Interview: The Most Charming Haunted Orphanage Around

An Interview with Vaughn Pinpin, Creator of The Orphanage

Next Tuesday (October 1) we’ll be releasing The Orphanage, a creepy 100 piece set — kicking off a month of #NeonMonsters. Prepare yourself for some ghoulishly frightening art!

We caught up with creator Vaughn Pinpin to discuss the set, his influences, and his work on Pokemon done in the style of Tim Burton!

NeonMob: Tell us about the process for creating each illustration. How did you come up with the idea for each character?

A lot of these characters are based on ghost stories and old, timey horror movies. The initial idea was to create a set of monsters inspired by classic monster movies, but it transformed into a set of creepy children. But before I could start making any characters, I always decide on a look. In this case, I drew inspiration from Tim Burton and Edward Gorey, and then I decided to allow my voice as an illustrator to be more prominent. This resulted in the style that is present in The Orphanage.

Conceptualizing 100 characters was a pretty difficult challenge for me actually, but eventually I found a groove. After I’ve made a list of names and concepts, it was easy to make a character happen. Once I understood what a character’s personality was, I would attempt to communicate that through the shape of the character and its pose and other features. I give quite a bit of attention to the character’s eyes and the way the character stands, as I think that’s one of the major signifiers of personality. The goal was to either make a child look creepy, eerie, mischievous, or even dangerous.

NeonMob: What is your background and how did you become an artist?

I am currently a Visual Communication student. I’m on my final year at the University of The Philippines. And I think I became an artist when I realized making art made me happy and that I’d rather just keep creating for as long as I can. I think I was 9 years old when I first started taking art seriously and ever since then I’ve just escalated my obsession with art over the years.

NeonMob: We have had the pleasure of working with several wonderful Filipino artists. What is it like being a professional artist in the Philippines?

Well, it’s always hot here. Haha! But I think it’s pretty difficult and exciting to be an artist in the Philippines. This country isn’t exactly developed enough to patronize the art industry to its full potential, but lately it seems that the creative industry has been growing quite rapidly.

NeonMob: Tell us about the Burton x PKMN project. How have Tim Burton and Pokemon inspired you in your life?

Well, I’ve always credited Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas as one of my earliest creative influences. It certainly opened me to the idea of experimenting with art and illustration at the very least. The Burton X PKMN Project is sort of a re-exploration of Tim Burton’s aesthetics.

As for Pokemon, Pokemon was just the best. I think it might be my favorite game. I love it. Both things though had a lot of crazy character designs, and they may have influenced me in mine. I’d like to think Tim Burton’s influence was also present in my NeonMob set.

I would like to say that the Burton X PKMN Project started out as a well-thought out tribute project, but I really only began it on a whim. I just wanted to do a project and I wanted to enjoy it and I wanted to experiment with a style. So I did. What I did discover about myself through the whole project, is that I really enjoy this style. And I might develop and incorporate it as I define my own style as an artist.

NeonMob: Where do you go for inspiration now?

It’s been impossible to predict where my inspiration comes from nowadays. I don’t often force it though. It seems my ideas and inspiration comes from recollecting images and concepts that I’ve gathered over the years and finding interesting combinations. These connections often happen when I’m just staring into space or some other banal activity. But it’s difficult to make these connections without having a huge pool of knowledge. So I’ve been trying to collect trivia and trying new experiences in the hopes for inspiration.

NeonMob: What’s your take on NeonMob?

I think it’s a great idea. I’ve always enjoyed collecting, but then I grew up in the 90’s in which trading cards was still a thing. I used to own Pokemon cards, and I always wanted to collect more. But what interests me about NeonMob, is that it has allowed me to collect good art and interesting stories. It’s just plain fun.