Steelberg: The King of VHS Art
Nostalgia is a great thing but it can often be misleading. I’m sure we’ve all raved about films or cartoons that we used to love but on closer inspection haven’t stood the test of time.
We have seen the revival of vinyl in the last few years as people that want a physical copy of their favourite music have decided that vinyl is the route they want to re-explore. Between great sound quality and exciting limited editions, we are also starting to appreciate the artwork that records can showcase far better than CD’s ever could.
The revival of VHS is unlikely, the convenience of streaming and the clarity of Blu-Ray means that it would be a big step back but one man is championing the art of VHS tapes that a great many of us would have grown up with.
Depending on your age it is likely you will have fond memories of visiting the video shop. In fact, I remember when we had a Betamax toploader during the Betamax vs VHS wars, we would visit the video shop and you could see which videos were available in each format by a coloured tag underneath. Even then you could see that the Betamax’s days were numbered and we eventually joined the 80’s and got a VHS player.
Videos like Teenwolf, Three Amigos, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Golden Child all spring to mind when I think back to those glory days. Then, just as I was about to assign the wonderful world of VHS to the ‘gone but not forgotten’ section of my mind I stumbled across Steelberg.
With a name worthy of a superhero or at least a WWE star, Steelberg has thrown the door open to people that miss filtering through all the videos, judging everything by its cover (how else would you judge something?).
Creating VHS style tributes to modern film and TV that would never see the front of a video case it sends us straight back to the days of hoping for one particular worker in the video shop that would happily let a 10-year-old boy walk out the door clutching Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
With over 40,000 followers to the @iamsteelberg Instagram account, it is clear that he has hit on something that resonates with a lot of people. We had the opportunity to fire him over a couple of questions (don’t expect Paxman) to find out a little bit more about what he does.
How did you get into doing this, do you have a background as an artist?
From an early age, I had always been drawing and making things. Taking apart things and putting them back together.
What made you want to create VHS art in a traditional style like this?
I saw some other dudes online make a few of these for modern stuff and then they stopped. I figured I’d give it a shot and people seemed to dig them so I kept going. As long as movies keep coming out, I’ll have new material to draw from.
Do you sell your work or do custom, to order pieces?
None of the work on my IG is for sale. However, I do take commissions if you are a filmmaker trying to get your name out there and want a custom tape. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m sure we can work something out.
Do you have a favourite cover that you have made and is there a film or TV series you can’t wait to get your teeth into?
Hmmm, I try to make them as believable as possible so sometimes even I am like, wait a sec, that looks like a real tape! The ones that get me most are “Cabin in the Woods” and “Stranger Things” I would say.
Were you surprised at how well received they have become?
Shit yeah! Unreal! Basically, after I made the first 5 or so tapes my wife said I should put them up on Instagram because people might be into them. I didn’t have an account at the time and thought that IG was just for 12 yr old girls. How wrong I was… That shit is like wildfire! The #hashtags alone and how they are all connected still blows my mind. Long story short, I took my wife’s advice, which all you fellers should do, and the rest is history.
Are there any other artists dealing with Pop Culture that you think we should check out?
I mean, I can’t even keep up. So many amazing artists that are into this whole nostalgia/throwback whatever you want to call it a scene. Not only doing visual art but the outrun/synthwave music people are doing is sooooo good I can’t even handle it.
Will you please do one for the new IT film…and The Warriors…and This is England…and everything else I like?
Haha, yeah IT is on the list for sure as we get a bit closer to the release. I try and do stuff that I’ve seen and I can stand by. The Warriors? From ’79? Well, that was already on VHS so it doesn’t count, unfortunately. Unless there is some reboot I don’t know about coming up. Wouldn’t even surprise me… Anything released after 2006 is the rule, that’s when the last VHS was put out, “A History of Violence”. Bit of trivia for your pub night there!
Do you get loads of annoying requests like the one I just did?
Ha, nah you’re cool man! Mostly, its just people that want to buy the “Stranger Things” tapes. Sorry dudes.
Finally, we have a question we like to ask everyone. On a good day, what is the most impressive animal you think you could beat in a one on one fight?
Awww man, are we talking life and death here?
With a whole host of great films and series’ on the horizon we can’t wait to see what creations he comes up with next. In an age when Pop Culture is king, it is great to see independent artists doing something they love and getting the recognition for it so if you want to see more of what he is doing head over to his profiles on Instagram and Facebook.
Since posting this Steelberg has been true to his word and made an IT box which is everything we could have hoped for.