A pioneer, they say, can be recognized by the arrows in his back. Here at Darkvale Studios, we are working to carve a brave new path through the internet jungle - where props, artwork, and storytelling can all find a common playground, and bold new daydreams can become a reality for those who reach out to us. From concept drawings to fully constructed environments, we are always happy to take on puzzling new challenges with uncertain outcomes. The greatest destinations are usually off the edges of any map, and we consider it an honor to become lost in any new project - no task is as alluring as a task that has never been done before. So take a few minutes to venture away from the well lit avenues of FaceBook and into the shadowy corridors of Darkvale Studios, where dreams, and occasionally nightmares, can cross over into reality all too easily. A quick journey through our website will put you in touch with all that we can do, and we find that we can do more with every project we take on. With a simple email or phone call, you can join us as we build the future that so many are afraid to. Darkvale Studios - proudly serving those who choose to leave the map behind.
As a rule, whenever I am called “Sir”, it is followed by “I’m going to have to ask you to leave”. Darkvale’s latest venture, the Steampunk Adventurers’ Club, has put me among courteous, honorable, and deeply talented artists of camera, stage, and screen; and frankly, I keep waiting for some security guard to show up and offer to tase me unless I move along. Personal hangups aside, this project is becoming a true adventure, and the growth of the SAC and that of Darkvale Studios are clearly intertwined. We have much ground to cover in a short period of time, but rest assured that Darkvale’s production department will fill the SAC clubhouse with wonderments and whimsy, and that steampunk storytellers from all corners of our world and worlds unknown will find a strangely comfortable home beneath its cluttered rafters. As always, share our posts and photos on FaceBook so that we can bring the Darkvale adventure to ever greater audiences. We look forward to announcing the opening of the Steampunk Adventurers’ Club doors, both in person at our Sanford clubhouse and online to the world, in the very near future, and we are quite proud to be an integral part of this project, at least until they figure out how shady we are. Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe I just heard the distinctive sound of a taser being unplugged from its wall charger. Adieu for now, friends.
In an age of smartphones and international space stations, ironically enough, human beings feel powerless. We long for the early childhood of industrial machinery, when it had nice big valve handles and boilers and belts, and one wrong move could tear your arms clean off. At Darkvale Studios, we understand these yearnings for that bygone mechanical age, and seek to build props and environments that reach out to that steam powered pioneer spirit, when Adventure was the result of poorly drawn maps combined with a liberal dose of absinthe and poor judgement. While the modern world is far better to live in, an occasional jaunt into the shadowy world of top hats, pocket watches, and thunderous flying machines is perfect for scratching that itch left by a universe of Angry Birds and angrier Youtube commenters. Darkvale Studios seeks to carve a new path for all those who yearn for a better, brassier planet, and we need your help and support to do so. Please share our blogs and posts, and help us spread the word about Darkvale Studios and our creative efforts to build bold new adventures for any souls brave enough to venture away from FaceBook and into the more poorly lit parts of the internet. Even a Web that is World Wide can provide you a personal escape, and you’re never more than a mouse click away from a humble homebuilt empire that wishes to make your daydreams a reality. Darkvale Studios - proudly building the bygone future others are afraid to.
After countless false starts, the Darkvale Studios design department (which is what we call the desk where we keep our fancy pens) has finally given birth to an acceptable logo for the impending Steampunk Adventurer’s Club. Like fools, we left it sitting on top of our time machine when we broke for lunch, and it appears to have undergone several decades of abuse during our 23 minute trip to Wawa, but we’ve salvaged enough of it to move forward with creating merchandise for club members and fans. T-shirts, mousepads, coffee mugs, souvenir flags, ball caps, badges, edible underwear, and more will all be made available as the SAC comes steaming into existence as both a website and a real life clubhouse in Sanford, Florida. Darkvale Studios has the distinctive honor of handling the scenic design of the club and much of the associated graphics and artwork, and we take this honor quite seriously, despite the controversial edible underwear suggestion from our merch department. Frankly, they haven’t had their head in the game ever since Lemmy died, so we’re cutting them a little slack. Tangents aside, we look forward to sharing the progress on this bold new gathering place for the Florida steampunk community as it comes to life, and as always we ask that you share our posts and projects with your friends, loved ones, and vaguely creepy coworkers to help us spread the word and grow our shadowy little enterprise. Darkvale’s future, along with that of Orlando’s steampunk family, looks to be a bright one, and we can’t wait to see where tomorrow takes us. Even without Lemmy.
Despite its awesome jungle themed name, Amazon doesn’t quite scratch the itch of the true adventurer. While you can buy alligator skulls and pirate daggers there, you’re also never more than a click away from a necktie covered in pictures of kittens (item # B000Y2VMII; I was so disgusted I only bought three of them.). But at Darkvale Studios, we serve customers with bolder spirits, and we do so by risking the life, limb, and sanity of our dedicated team of artists and explorers. Our insurance premiums are a howling nightmare, but our merchandise speaks for itself, at least it would if it wasn’t all dead. While a quick browse through our online Emporium may seem a bit macabre, it is refreshing to have a retail experience that puts one in touch with the great dark void we must all eventually face. Also, we have some lovely little tabletop doodads that are sure to spice up your next Tupperware party or primal scream therapy group. So while the internet offers many saner, calmer alternatives for your browsing delight, I encourage you to stop by the Emporium at Darkvalestudios.com and peruse the shadowy and unique delights that only Mr. Darkvale and his team can provide. And who knows? Perhaps we have just the right grim decor to accent that jaunty kitten necktie you’ve been itching to show off at your next stockholders meeting. I can’t believe I have to wait three days for shipping.
As I write this, a dusty backyard barn in Sanford, Florida is beginning to take on a strange new life. At present, the changes are humble ones - newly framed walls, new security doors and air conditioning - but soon, Jules Verne’s dream of boilers and balderdash will come alive as the Steampunk Adventurer’s Club is born. Intended for the bold few who venture beyond the cushiony confines of FaceBook and Instagram, The S.A.C will be a beacon to all those who yearn for an age that never quite came to be. In this strange timeless limbo, where handwritten letters are sealed with wax, absinthe fuels the imagination, and even the most crucial global affairs are put on hold in honor of tea time, steampunk storytellers from all corners of our humble planet will be welcomed into a cozy parlor of worldly artifacts and whimsy. For those lucky few who can make the pilgrimage to Sanford and schedule time with the Portrist himself, the club will be an immersive little Victorian adventurer’s Mecca, cluttered with props and special effects provided by Darkvale Studios. We are honored to be a part of this legacy project, and look forward to being a part of the S.A.C as it changes and grows in the years ahead. Stay tuned to the Darkvale FaceBook page and our own website blog to watch the Steampunk Adventurer’s Club come to life, and share our posts to help us grow our following. As every Steampunk knows, if history can’t write us a cool enough story, we’ll just have to write the damned thing ourselves.
Like a garbage bag of chili flung from a tenement roof, 2015 has come to a majestic, yet somewhat chaotic end. Darkvale Studios has entered into some wonderful new partnerships and new frontiers, and the year ahead promises to move us forward with all the speed of a chinchilla exiting a Rottweiler farm. For those among you who thirst for adventure, scroll through our recent year of blogs and relive some of the wonderments and whimsy of 2015. Among many other creative adventures, we brought our steampunk robot Tank to life for the film Chasing Photons (in progress), we built a lovely and massive mechanical monster for the finale of Phantasmagoria's stage show "The Darkness Returns", and we turned our Emporium (and ourselves) into an 1800's western medicine show for Spooky Empire 2015. And, like an angry chimpanzee with a handful of fresh feces, we plan to aim higher in the year ahead. I have also learned some valuable lessons this year, such as how to clean mustache wax off an iPhone, how to program a robot to bite one of the stars of Police Academy, and more recently, to never buy a book of metaphors from the bargain bin of a dollar store. And so, my friends, Happy New Year to you all, and try not to let the driveway fireworks blow off anything that can't grow back. We at Darkvale Studios wish you all a 2016 full of fortune and adventure, and wish to thank you for helping us to grow our strange little empire. Namaste, and so long for now.
Few things stir an adventurer’s blood like a good slideshow; only a powerpoint presentation can rile up a crowd more. To scratch that montage itch for you, we’ve compiled this lovely four minute film highlighting the 2 month journey through the design and construction of our Emporium tradeshow booth for the Spooky Empire haunt convention this past Halloween. We've severely abridged the build process, replaced all the swearing with music, and even thrown in a couple gratuitous shots of a cute baby who was in reach during the event and had no say in the matter. As an added bonus, you can see me in a silly hat at a couple of points. So turn up your speakers, tell your loved ones to shut up for the next couple of minutes, and enjoy our little cinematic opus, featuring music by Verne Langdon. Yes, the Verne Langdon.
When cursed artifacts are a large part of your stock in trade, you tend to deal with some shady characters. Recently, Mister Darkvale decided to put the shadiest one of them on our payroll, so we hired a questionable gentleman by the name of Silas to run our acquisitions department. Silas, who disappears for weeks at a time, gives our other employees the creeps, and cooks vile things in the break room microwave, has nevertheless proven to be one of Mister Darkvale's most trusted staff members, so it appears he is here to stay. In his defense, he has put his unique skill set to use acquiring some very unique pieces, and is clearly an expert at wheeling and dealing with the very sketchiest of gypsies, carnies, and even the Irish. Thus, we begrudgingly accept his presence, as it means we will soon be hosting even stranger artifacts in The Darkvale Emporium than we already do. I suppose the break room stench is a small price to pay.
One of the biggest projects looming on the Darkvale horizon these days is the design for the Steampunk Adventurer’s Club, headed up by the illustrious Barry D. Kirsch, known to many as “The Portrist”. This exclusive club promises to be an exotic little Floridian Mecca for storytellers and Victorian privateers from all walks of life, at least the ones lucky enough to pass the rigorous admission standards. Our design, based loosely on the bygone Adventurer’s Club at Downtown Disney, will incorporate everything from crashed airship machinery to beautifully preserved saber toothed trout to transport its guests to an age of majestic madness that never came to be. We are also designing the club flag and secret handshake, which is planned to accommodate those with hook hands or prosthetic arm cannons. Follow The Portrist or the Steampunk Adventurer’s Club on Facebook for updates as this project comes together, and look to our own FaceBook posts to see some of the exotic decor as it comes to life on our workbench.
In other Darkvale news, the beautiful documentary Wise the Wizard, a film about our very own Mister Darkvale, will be airing soon, so expect a great deal of noise to be made as its release date approaches. This incredible film, directed and produced by the deeply talented Daisy Blakelock, tells the story of Harry Wise, the Wizard of Central Florida, through the tales of his friends and their memories, and serves as a funny and heartfelt tribute to a vey unique human whose likes will not be seen again. Darkvale Studios was honored to be a part of this project, and we plan to be downright insufferable about this film once it becomes available to the public. You have been warned.
For those who have read this far, we love you all, and are grateful for your support. This is our 50th blog post, so if you wish to light a sad little candle and poke it through a paper plate for a bit, we appreciate your efforts, and promise to keep moving forward and growing this odd little business adventure to bring you all as much strangeness as we can in the days and years ahead. Now blow that thing out before you hurt yourself.
The number of grown human beings who look people in the eye and sincerely declare that they are bona fide wizards is mercifully small, but I have managed to stumble into the path of at least two of the more influential ones, and both times my life took a turn. Harry “Dark Veil” Wise, whose legacy remains at the core of our little enterprise here, was the second of the two, but the man who oversaw my introduction to this business was Charles Russell Brumfield, known to all as Russell. His company, The Wizard’s Workshop in Clearwater, Florida, as its name was changing to Wizard Studios, took a strange leap of faith on my utter lack of experience, and proceeded to put me through a few years of creative and technical boot camp in the mid to late 90’s, surrounded by patient and deeply talented experts who tolerated my wide eyed ignorance on virtually all topics. Together, we built custom designed special events for corporations or crazy rich citizens looking to turn a hotel ballroom or a mansion into anything from an undersea wonderland to a futuristic neon city to a jungle full of dinosaurs. A year in that company, if you said yes to everything you were asked, meant that you could install and run lasers and fog, build and paint a 50 foot long pirate galleon, drive a truck to Miami two or three times in a day, dress in a gorilla suit for a Gilligan’s Island party to fill in for a no show actor, have a run in with Norman Shwartzkopf’s personal security, hang pyrotechnics in the rafters of a sports arena, help load fake blunderbusses for a pirate raid on a beach island, and lead a lost mariachi band to their stage at a millionaire’s house in Marco Island while trying to explain to them that their horns were upsetting the live donkeys that were rented for that night. The most insane part of that last sentence was all the things I had to leave out. Russell was the creator and driving force behind that company, and was known to all as The Wizard. A giant, energetic Viking of a man, he went on from Wizard Studios to become a traveling motivational speaker, which surprised absolutely no one. Unfortunately, the world lost another mad wizard when Russell succumbed to disease in mid October, and Earth instantly became a little bit more boring, if perhaps slightly more financially stable. He put a lot of strange miles on me, but he will be missed. Due to the chaos that surrounds them, we should be glad there aren’t many true wizards out there, but we also need to mourn when we lose one, because Normal is the rust of existence. Namasté, Russell, and thanks for lighting my fuse.
Despite our reluctance to join the modern world, the time has come to enter the domain of online video marketing. We sought out the best media advertiser we could find and proudly announced what we were willing to spend. After they had finished laughing so hard that their monocles fell into their brandy snifters, we realized that we would need to carve out our own path, as per usual. We have now outfitted our computer with some of the latest software, and chained one of our lowest paid interns to the desk to knock out a lovely 2 minute video highlighting some of our recent works. Attached you will find the finest efforts that a $15 app from iTunes would allow. Click and enjoy, and as always, kindly share our endeavors with your friends and loved ones, and even just the ones you tolerate. We need all the help we can get, and as our social media empire grows, so will the scope of our projects. Maybe one day we'll be able to afford our own brandy snifters.
At a certain age, we all realize that nothing lives under our bed. Our closet harbors no slouching beast, the shadowy nook under the stairs is empty of all but rain boots, the basement haunts us with nothing but the threat of mildew. As we become older and smarter, the things we fear become well lit and sterile - late house payments, workplace upheavals, check engine lights - and we grow jaded and cold. But the darkness is not empty, and never will be. Ships and airplanes disappear, unmanned radio stations broadcast mysterious numbers to unknown audiences, and partially decayed monstrosities wash up on our beaches. At Darkvale Studios, we have made it our mission to venture into the deepest shadows of our humble planet and find dusty ancient terrors to sell to our discerning clientele. Even as I write this, strangely labelled crates are crossing the oceans and rumbling down the highways toward our warehouse, and in the days and weeks ahead, our Emporium will proudly host a new batch of oddities and artifacts worthy of the most adventurous shopper. So please spread the word about our gloomy little enterprise, and make sure to like and share our FaceBook posts so that our audience can grow as our adventure does. As proud purveyors of things that go bump in the night, Darkvale Studios looks forward to giving you back the nightmares you once left behind.
In a few short days, Darkvale Studios will once again emerge into the world as a physical presence, interacting with haunt convention attendees for three days and then disappearing before the inevitable torch bearing mob forms and scares off our key demographic. But for those lucky attendees of the Spooky Empire Haunt Convention and Powdered Soup Distributors Extravaganza (I may need to double check that name), we will be an extremely real and interactive attraction and retail experience. At the bottom of this blog, I will be attaching a link to the event, and all who can make the trek to central Florida and somehow dodge the allure of the mouse, boy wizard, or sea mammal themed entertainment empires are encouraged to attend our humble but ambitious dark carnival, hosted by the immensely talented and tolerant Rob Cametti. Our good friends at the Mucklebones Monster Museum and Phantasmagoria will also be flaunting their unique brands of dark madness, and we expect to raise quite a stir before the representatives of good taste and propriety arrive and shut us down. Many of our Emporium's signature pieces will be available for sale, as well as quite a few surprise additions that have not yet been featured on our site. So top off your wallet and your gas tank, and come shake our hands and see why we keep our presence in the real world to a minimum at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on International Drive this Halloween weekend. We look forward to meeting you all, even the odd smelling ones.
Click here for info and tickets...
(You may need to copy and paste that like an Amish person, since our computer is being glitchy. I probably shouldn't leave it in the yard so much.)
By the very nature of the artifacts we collect, certain human beings must put themselves in peril. Brave, adventurous, slightly unintelligent human beings. Of course, this means we have purged a few members over the years - lost at sea, devoured by South American cannibals, bludgeoned by angry Mongols in a Tibetan tavern, gored by startled moose in Newfoundland... one unlucky devil was even murdered in Reno by Johnny Cash for no apparent reason. But occupational drawbacks aside (OSHA hates when I call death an occupational drawback, but I hate OSHA, so I guess we're even), providing artifacts of intrigue for Darkvale's Emporium can be a very fulfilling way to make a few shekels, should one have the required backbone and stunted IQ to do so. Another much safer alternative is to become one of our artists, selling your creative endeavors in our ever growing online bazaar, which means you can create nearly anything you want within a certain handful of guidelines, and we will happily post and sell it at a slight markup. We seek unique pieces, free of any legal or safety liabilities, but possessing the quirky darkness that has put us on the map. Any interested parties should contact us, and we will be happy to send you the short list of rules and regulations that keep our hindquarters clear of the lawyers that swim these dark American waters. With our trade show only a couple of weeks away, there is much to be done, but even after it has passed, we will continue to grow and sell pieces online year round, so please don't be shy about contacting us at any time. The digital pirate ship that Darkvale Studios has become will always need more crew, and all those with a creative itch to scratch are only a few keystrokes away from destiny. Explore our Emporium, and see if there's room on its shelves for your own mad dreams.
As Halloween draws near, there is much to be built in the Darkvale production shop. Along with the usual stream of projects for our clientele, we are furiously at work on our own trade show booth for Spooky Empire 2015. Even as our builders choke the local skies with sawdust and paint fumes, more and more artifacts are arriving on our doorstep to be cataloged and added to our Emporium inventory, and while its online presence has been strangely silent, rest assured that many new items have been acquired - all to be revealed when we arrive at Master Robert Cametti's dark carnival on Halloween weekend.
On another front, we are happy to announce that Darkvale Studios has entered into a creative collaboration with Phantasmagoria Orlando, a steampunk theatrical storytelling troupe that tours the Southeastern United States, happily preying on the fears of jittery locals. We will be building a few props for their upcoming Halloween season performance, and as always we hope to contribute to a few sleepless nights among the innocent citizenry. For more information on Phantasmagoria and the beautiful havoc they wreak, click the attached link below.
The most important thing a merchant can have, according to several extremely boring books about selling things and not starving, is a good location. I would argue that the most important thing any merchant possesses is "stuff to sell", but then again nobody is paying me to rattle on for 12 chapters about demographics and mission statements, so perhaps I should be ignored on that point.
Even as I speak, (or type, I suppose), multiple artists and adventurers are working to fill the display crates we will be proudly presenting at this year's Spooky Empire convention, to be held Halloween weekend at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on International Drive. For a taste of the unique exotica we will be exhibiting, please peruse our online Emporium, featuring a sampling of our artifacts and their perilous journeys to our humble digital mercantile. Many of these items will be available in person to the discerning shopper (or the apathetic kind, we like their money, too), at our heavily themed trade show booth, and those who are neither faint of heart nor timid of wallet will find themselves in possession of some truly unique specimens of the darkest corners of our planet. As always, my friends, like and share our posts and website to help us grow and create ever larger adventures for all who follow us. We always work to make Adventure a tangible thing, and for those who can attend our booth this Halloween, Darkvale Studios, proud purveyors of things that go bump in the night, will happily scratch the itch for those with a streak of swashbuckler in their blood.
Ever since our Emporium opened its online doors in February, we have acquired all manner of art and artifacts, most of which are blunted and non-poisonous enough to make available to the public. New exotica are arriving all the time, and this Halloween we will be proudly peddling our wares at the Spooky Empire convention on International Drive in Orlando. All of the local inflatable bouncy castle rentals were already spoken for, so we invested in a customized medicine show wagon, for which the wainwright generously offered us a 50% discount. Clearly our name is beginning to carry some weight. If you expect to be in Central Florida this Halloween, block out some time for Spooky Empire and experience the kind of dark madness that could only be created by wild Floridians lucky enough not to be on parole. There is still much to be built and unveiled, and our online Emporium continues to grow for those of you who wish to shop without combing your hair or wearing pants, so please check back often and spread the word about our site to all those you care about. Thank you as always for reading these blogs and supporting our efforts, and rest assured that next year we will get our hands on the very best inflatable bouncy castle ever.
By our very nature, Darkvale Studios can only exist in the cruel light of day for a few hours each year, before the inevitable accumulation of angry villagers or public safety lawyers force us back into hiding, but we are pleased to announce that this coming Halloween our Emporium will be open to the public as a tradeshow booth at Spooky Empire's 2015 convention. Oddities and antiquities, salvaged and excavated from the darkest corners of our world and worlds unknown, will be made available to discerning clientele, neither faint of heart nor timid of pocketbook, and we will be happy to host adventurers who wish for a clever photo or a unique moment to experience our wondrous wares face to face. We will be masquerading as an 1800's medicine show, which both allows us to demonstrate our thematic showmanship and helps us to scratch our con man itch, so block out some time on your calendars this coming Halloween weekend, and enjoy a rare opportunity to breathe the mad and mysterious air of the Darkvale Studios Emporium. If you hurry, you can beat the angry villagers to the punch.
We've been told that sort of headline is "trending", even though it makes us itch and shudder, so our apologies. At any rate, the Darkvale Studios empire is growing, like some sort of strange fungus, and we are happy to announce that we are now in a creative partnership with Murder City Media. Along with having a wonderfully threatening name, they are a beautiful resource for high end video and photography, and we will be providing props and sets to meet their frequently strange needs. We are also currently working on concepts for a Darkvale Emporium tradeshow booth, which will provide guests the first opportunity to experience our merchandise in a physical environment this Halloween. As always, our stock inventory is growing and adapting, so please click our Emporium link and encourage your friends and colleagues to check us out. The strangeness we have built so far is only the beginning and we need your help to spread the word; share our website and help us dominate the internet so we can overwhelm the feeble human populace from a throne of blood and thunder. Or, you know, sell some cool merchandise and make a comfortable living. Whatever comes first.