Artists ~ David M. Gaskill ~ North Kingstown

Artist’s name: David M. Gaskill, P.E.
Shop name: Pinventions

1. Tell us about your work-
I am an engineer by trade, but have always done freelance art and design through the years. for "Pinventions", I rescue old (60's and 70's era) pinball machines, restore them to working order, then strip them down to bare wood and add in my own designs- digital graphics as well as hand-painted features- to reinvent them with a totally new theme. To this I add in unique electrical or mechanical features of my own making- piggybacking on new technology but keeping and reusing the original technology as the starting point. This process is symbolic of my own evolution in thinking, art, and adaptation of technology. The "about" link to my site goes into this concept a bit more

2. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter/designer?
I never had any formal training, but was always interested in the arts- I had a portfolio of work and was originally enrolled to attend Ivy School of Arts in Pittsburgh, PA out of high school- but my grades were good enough to also get into engineering school. My dad always told me that I could be an engineer and still be an artist on the side- but the reverse of that statement is not true. He also told me that he had never heard of a "starving engineer".

Anyway, I went on to get degrees in engineering and math, and my professional designation and license in engineering. I am currently a Vice President and manager of a group of system and database engineers for a large RI Insurance and engineering company.

But all along the way, I continue to paint, draw, do some freelance and commission art work throughout college, learn computer graphics software, designed creative props for my kids, etc. etc. for my entire career. As I get closer to retirement, I wanted to explore a combination of my skill sets- and I have since gravitated to what I currently do with Pinventions.
3. Where do you draw your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from the most pleasant memories of my youth, and the nostalgic memories from those years- I loved playing the old style pinball machines and wasting time in arcades, but there are also visual (movies/pop culture) and sonic (music/concerts) memories from that era that tie to the other memories.

At the same time- I grew up, I matured, I became a successful professional, I adapted my thinking, my use of newer technologies, music, and culture- by I always appreciated and reference the old influences of my youth. My machines mirror my growth in all those areas- the designs are based on the original. The art is in the style of the era. The mechanical and electrical add-ins are a nod to my own growth- but they are grounded in the originals.

4. What’s your favorite item to create?
To date, my favorite creation is the Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out pinball machine. This was what I displayed and allowed people to play freely at the Makers Faire. The original machine design from about 1975 was garish and ugly- I was happy to strip it down and reinvent it around one of my musical idols- Bruce Springsteen- a master at adaptation and growth. The theme is circa 1975 when Bruce was putting together the key pieces of the E-Street Band- the changes at that time made all the difference in their eventual critical and commercial success. For those who don't know, the song Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out is essentially the story of the band coming together at that time.

The back glass graphic shows a solitary Bruce in the spotlight amongst throngs of adoring fans in silhouette. The quoted lyric in the design is "I'm all alone and I can't go home."

The play field uses images from top to bottom to tell the story and represent key phrases of the song lyrics- from "Teardrops on the city..." to the "little pretties raise their hands."

5. What’s your best seller?
They are all unique so there is only one of each- plus they each can take months to create!

6. How long have you been in Rhode Island?
My family (wife Linda, daughter Amanda-21, son Jonathan -19) have lived in Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Melbourne, Australia- moving for my job- until settling in RI in 1999.

7. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island?
We love the beaches and the access to the ocean. We love visiting Newport. We also like the relatively easy access to Boston and New York.

8. Please include anything else you’d like to add:
People ask how much a custom machine costs- it can range from under $1,000 to about $15,000. You can save money by having me use your own machine and adapting one of my existing designs. But it would be more fun to collaborate with a nostalgic client to make their memories/dreams come to life in anew unique, personal, playable work of art.

Thanks so much for letting me tell my story. I'd love for people to share their memories or ideas on my website and blog- like, comment, communicate. I know that everyone is not a "buyer"- that really doesn't t matter to me. I'd like to hear from people even if they'd like to just tell me what they think about my work or make suggestions for future projects.


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