Utah video artist VHS Vic (Victor Blandon) shows his audience how to find magic in the mundane, the goofy in the serious, and the artistry in making a pizza.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT—Video artist VHS Vic (aka Victor Blandon) answers his door wearing a red “house robe” over a homemade t-shirt and slacks. As we settle in for our interview in his living room, a muted VHS copy of American Psycho plays in the background on one of his many bulky television sets. Steely Dan blares out of the TV speakers—Vic replaced the movie’s audio with sounds from the yacht-rock heroes—as Vic extends his best hosting efforts with a red Otter Pop.
Shelves of stuffed animals, puppets, and muppets line the perimeter of his living room, and Vic straddles the stool of his drum set to get comfortable. Under the studio light of his claymation stage, we talk about his work on The Choe Show, his processes, and what it’s like to live in the VHS Vic universe.
Talking with Vic is never a straight shot—you will always be pleasantly surprised by the direction a simple topic can take. You can be asking about his cat, and he’ll answer with his theories on déjà vu (he thinks they are glitches in the videotape of life). And in his work, whether through The Choe Show or a music video, it’s a treat to then be able to see VHS Vic’s direction in everyday things—he makes tedious human experiences just a tiny bit goofier.
Vic has lived in his basement studio in Salt Lake City for about twelve years, weathering the housing and development changes plaguing downtown Salt Lake and pushing out long-term residents. In this space, Vic exists in a reality where Pee Wee Herman is president, and it’s illegal not to be silly.
“It is fun to exist in the world from a cartoonist point of view because there are so many things that are funny in life,” he says. “These could be current events or funny nuances that people say and do. As a cartoonist, you can pick out more than others because you are more in tune to everyone’s behavior.” Vic illustrates this by describing the inspiration he can find in someone’s gait at the grocery store and the magic he finds in mundane things.
“A video artist is someone who makes art and uses video as their weapon,” Vic adds. “And making that art is like making a pizza; you start with a base (dough), then build it layer by layer until it is ready for toppings.”
Calling Vic a “video artist,” however, is an understatement. If you are observing and experiencing Vic from any point of view, you can fracture him into a wizard of many things: music production, sculpting, claymation, animation, narrative design, and so much more. Vic is more like five to six creative little gremlins under a large coat posing as a thirty-four-year-old man.
Working in this role full-time, Vic describes spending his days as a little mouse tinkering around different areas of his lair. On one end of his space, he has his piano where he writes background music; on another end, there’s his iMac, his staging area, and a couch for rest.
Vic works as a video artist for FX’s The Choe Show. The program, available on Hulu, features artist David Choe interviewing guests such as actors and musicians in his childhood home, which allows Choe to come from a place of “radical empathy.” The show juxtaposes guests’ stories with interpretations through many different art media, including Vic’s claymation. You can clearly point out Vic’s part in The Choe Show trailer, where he created a clay replica of Choe to be featured in different clips.
“Do you know how I won the contest?” Vic asks, leading into how he got the opportunity to contribute to the show. “I was working at Big Daddy’s Pizza [in Salt Lake City] in 2015 with my friend [and fellow artist] Andrew Sato. He told me about the David Choe contest,” he says about Choe’s call for artists on Instagram to submit a piece of art to win a free trip to Hawaii. “We agreed that we would both enter, and if one of us wins, we’d share the prize.”
Vic submitted a claymation video of Mangchi Hammer, Choe’s band, playing on the beach. The video, only a few seconds long, matched the fast-paced tempo of a punk song, with dozens of hidden gems in each frame, including a pterodactyl, a small penguin trying to operate his little beach-side store, and backup dancing stormtroopers. Juried by Mangchi Hammer, Vic’s video won the contest, and he and Choe have had a working relationship ever since.
When he’s not working on The Choe Show, Vic stays busy producing music videos for bands such as Emerald Isle and Fonteyn. “I like to make the video, then casually throw the songs on top. I love to see how things will sync up.” Vic also uses his video production skills to promote and create visuals for his own music in bands Cool Banana and ’90s TV. “It’s fun to express myself through making the music or making the video to the music.”
Vic finds it important to hold space to appreciate the freedom he has had to create. “I’ve been free my whole life, I’ve been able to do what I want since I was fifteen,” he explains. “Though, I’ve had the drive and ambition to create since I was little. Today, I can use my personality and personal experiences to form the narrative, character creation, music production, and sound effects of my life.”
Currently, Vic is working on a movie shot on 16mm film “about a musician that experiences a turning point in one night and tries to get out of it by sunrise.” While Vic’s ideas and love for the moving picture grows, right now he hopes to just be a good friend and neighbor.
“I don’t have a desire for a lasting legacy. I just like making stuff,” Vic says. “I like that a lot of people who aren’t alive anymore still exist in thoughts and inspirations. Time is our illusion, no one is ever really gone.”