Marsco's record clocks are designed with the true music
aficionados in mind. See what all of the fuss is about
at A Cup of Joe.
tefan Marsco doesn’t make a living out
of defacing vinyl—he simply alters it in his free time. However,
the modifications inflicted upon old records are done so out of
Marsco is a clockmaker. His kitschy creations are currently on display
at Cup of Joe as part of the downtown coffeehouse’s Artist
of the Month series. Responses to the exhibit have been overwhelmingly
positive. In fact, one customer offered to purchase a particular
piece before the collection had been hung in its entirety. Though
flattered, Marsco is somewhat surprised by the sudden praise. “I
still have a hard time considering what I do as art,” he says.
“More than anything, it’s just been a lot of fun.”
Marsco isn’t concerned with the reasons people appreciate
his work, as long as they are satisfied with the finished product.
His vision originally developed after a trip to New Orleans where
Marsco discovered the perfect “gag gift” for his girlfriend—a
12-inch Rod Stewart picture vinyl of “Blondes Have More Fun.”
The present was a success, but Marsco was fearful of losing the
gem to the deep cavities of a dresser drawer. He decided to increase
the record’s appeal further by transforming it into a decorative,
yet functional fixture.
A man named Roger Williams may or may not have been the original
creator of the record clock. However, devoid of any copyright, the
concept is open for anyone to recapture. Marsco’s first encounter
with the unusual timepiece occurred at the Greater Avenues Street
Fair where he picked one up for a song. Unfortunately, the record
clock was rather plain—not something easily confused with
“It didn’t connect with me,” Marsco says, adding
that he was certain he could do better. Transforming his girlfriend’s
clock thus became a quest to improve upon average. The first attempt
was such a hit, Marsco was inspired to continue. Eventually, friends
and family were clamoring for their own custom-made originals. Marsco,
realizing that he had stumbled upon something special, turned the
hobby into a business—Record Time Clocks. The increasingly
successful venture is reflective of an entrepreneurial spirit laced
with artistic sensibilities.
“The reason I (originally) got into marketing was to use my
imagination,” Marsco says. However, the aspiring advertiser
soon learned that most campaigns are simply vehicles for manipulation.
Disillusioned, Marsco turned to his primary love—music. He
took on positions as manager for local bands My Density and Hello
Amsterdam. Although he and the groups have since parted ways, Marsco
maintains a positive outlook on the experience.
Now he’s located another method of marrying music and business.
Marsco reaps great pleasure out of salvaging lost—but not
completely forgotten—records and turning them over to people
who appreciate the effort. His target audience is mainly music aficionados
willing to pay the price for guilty pleasures.
He prefers to sell his clocks to thrift stores and art galleries;
however, he has plans for opening a Web site to make the product
accessible to a broader audience.
Although concerned with reaching the average consumer, Marsco makes
it a priority to address specialized tastes. “I pride myself
on special orders. If there is an artist you want, I’ll find
it,” he says.
Marsco purchases most of his products from the Internet, occasionally
enhancing the collection with relics from Las Vegas.
Notable finds include red vinyl Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin’s
“Swan Song” picture vinyl, and a 12-inch Kraftwerk album
that’s glow-in-the-dark. The most requested items are Prince’s
seven-inch picture vinyl and a rare cut-out record of David Bowie’s
“Survive.” In order to ensure that each one emerges
distinctly different, Marsco employs local artist Andy Benson to
further modify the pieces with various painted accents. Thematically
appropriate additions include Grateful Dead “Jerr-Bears”
and tiny hemp plants for Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Doggystyle.”
Marsco often finishes by affixing guitar picks to the clock’s
12, 3, 6, and 9.
“I think that 99 percent of people who buy picture or colored
vinyl don’t buy it with the intention of playing it—they
buy it to collect it,” he says, adding that the valuable items
don’t need to remain hidden. “These things are way too
cool to stuff in a box.”
Marsco’s clocks will be on display through the month of September
at Cup of Joe, 353 W. 200 South. For more information, contact email@example.com.