While children of the 21st century are trashing their parents’ record collections in favor of iPods and Beatport purchases, Gainesville artist Tony Feria is giving these forgotten vinyls a new breath of life. The 23 year-old Miami native is the founder of Zombie Vinyls, a visual arts company which repurposes old vinyls into one-of-a-kind wall decor. Armed with hand-cut stencils and cans of spray paint, Feria delicately yet deliberately designs musical imagery ranging from classics like The Beatles and Billy Joel to today’s electro-rock stars like Avicii and Tiesto. “The name Zombie Vinyls is what the business all about–bringing an old medium back to life,” Tony stated. “I’m blending forgotten music with the sounds of our generation.”
It all started in 2009 when he and his roommate at the time, David Aaronson, began experimenting with spray paint on vinyls, stacking layers of color in formulaic orders which yielded a 3D-esque obstacle illusion. Pleased with the preliminary results, Feria moved forward with the project. After a lot of dumpster-diving and thrift-store huntings, Feria collected canvases for trial and error practices until he finally mastered the art of determining which colors in which order would resonate best on the ribbed vinyl backdrop. This was no easy task for Feria, as spray paint was an entirely new medium to conquer, marking quite a departure from his high school hobby of doodling t-shirt designs in class. “It’s one thing to have an idea in your head or to draw a sketch on a piece of paper, but it’s another to actually turn that idea into a tangible, physical object,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to see your ideas as a finished product.”
The first finished Zombie Vinyls product was a two-toned, green and black depiction of John Lennon’s face. An incredibly simple rough draft, Feria keeps the vinyl hanging prominently on his wall as a motivating force toward progress. And if that vinyl sits as a reminder of the past and encouragement for the future, it’s doing its job quite well. The company’s clientele spans the country, partly in thanks to Zombie Vinyls joining Identity Festival on tour last summer. Feria also concentrates on selling to the locals, setting up booths at art walks and expos around the Gainesville, Florida area. He estimates he’s sold more than 5000 vinyls, and the customers keep coming back for more.
But it’s not only buyers who are noticing the company’s success. Zombie Vinyls teamed up with Datsik earlier this year in a profit-sharing agreement after the dubstep producer complimented Feria on his work. Other producers are giving positive feedback as well, like progressive house master Kaskade who sought out a company employee before a show in Tallahassee saying “We’ve been looking for who makes these vinyls! We love them and want to work with you in the future.”
Feria took Kaskade’s advice and is in preliminary talks with Live Nation and Bravado about signing licensing agreements and entering into more profit-sharing deals. The future is bright for the young Warhol, but even as the company grows, Feria is adamant about retaining Zombie Vinyls’ custom feel. Every vinyl is still hand-crafted, distinctly unique from the next, a repurposed relic with a brand new life.
“I hope Zombie Vinyls can manifest into something bigger than a subordinate job because it’s something I really enjoy doing,” he said. “I loved watching the company evolve over the last few years and I’m excited to see where it can grow to next.”