Jason Brockert is traditionally a landscape painter, but one day he noticed a Star Wars Stormtrooper figurine sitting on his shelf, and decided to try painting it. "The first one came out terrible," he says. "A week later, I was like I'll try again. The second one, I was like oh, that's kind of cool. And it was a lot of fun, too. I had more fun doing that then I'd had in six months."
He finished the Stormtrooper painting a little while after that, and then decided to do more figures, and then old game consoles and cartridges, collecting them on eBay and then painting them in his elaborate, almost idealistic way. "Those were the two things I loved as a kid," says Brockert, "and the things I wanted to recollect, that my mother had thrown away I don't know how long ago."
Brockert's work is currently on display in a show called "American Icons" at the iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles' Echo Park. All of his works and prints are available for purchase, and the Exhibition (most of which you can see below) runs through December 18.
Brockert's pieces look painstakingly recreated, and they are; "I measure them," he says. "They're all to scale." But at the same time, there's a little bit of abstraction in there when you look closely -- the fonts look more handwritten than printed, and there are no power chords or indirect light to specify exactly where these old toys and consoles are. They're the same toys you once had lying on your floor, but they also could have been the ones at your friend's house, or even those you pined after in commercials.
"That's what I hope," says Brockert, "is that they're presented in a way that you can look at it and be like, 'Oh my God, yeah.' My experience is different than yours but we all have this shared knowledge, that's pretty cool." Brockert says his goal in the original painting was to "make it look like plastic, basically, feel like an actual toy this size, as opposed to just a generic Stormtrooper. I want it to feel like the toy on the canvas, as opposed to a fan art painting of a Stormtrooper."
Brockert's favorite game from back in the day? Adventure. And he hasn't played much lately due to parental responsibility, but he really enjoyed going through Portal 2 earlier this year. All of the works in his show portray classic consoles like the NES, Atari, and Colecovision, but does he feel any affection for more recent entries like the Dreamcast? "Yeah, of course," he confirms right away. "They're sitting in the closet, I just haven't had time."