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Creative Voices

Zombies, Yetis & Pinball

By Dan Cowles and Kristi Highum

Jeremy Packer—aka Zombie Yeti—lives in the “middle of nowhere, Indiana.” But he also makes world-class art for Harley Davidson, 20th Century Fox, and Wu-Tang Clan. 

It began when he was a smart, bored kid in the back of the classroom, drawing on his jeans and in notebooks while paying just enough attention to get through. After high school, Jeremy spent time in the city, going to art school and working in web and design jobs. With the help of his childhood-rival-now-close-friend Hydro74 (Joshua Smith), Jeremy eventually parlayed classroom doodling into a career as a sought-after artist. 

Unlike many creatives intent on shedding their past, he ended up back home in northern Indiana, where the living is simple and low-key, and the babysitting—in the form of grandparents—is free. “My kids are going to the same school that I went to. Fortunately for them, there’s a new crop of teachers, and they don’t know who I am.” 

While Jeremy is well-known in the illustration world, it’s a different story in his hometown. “Nobody gives a sh*t about what I do,” he laughs. “Even the people I explain it to just say, ‘That’s great—oh, did you see that Farmer Joe is taking the cornfields down today?’”

Note: This video contains language that is not suitable for children.

PLAY IT FORWARD

For the last few years, in addition to the usual band posters, movie art, branding pieces, and stickers, Jeremy has created art for pinball machines, collaborating with legendary pinball designer John Popadiuk, Jr., under his Zidware Pinball USA label.

In our video game world, pinball—and pinball art—are pieces of Americana in danger of dying out. John and Jeremy are keeping the medium alive and pushing the art form forward. In a space where art has traditionally been mass-produced and derivative, with low-paid artists churning out mediocre work, John is building handmade and custom games, and Jeremy is creating stunning, intricate designs. Both he and John are committed to creating the most innovative and beautiful pinball machines in the world. “It really is a great collaboration,” says Jeremy. “The end goal is to push it to another level.”

In this video, legendary pinball designer John Popadiuk, Jr., discusses his collaboration with Jeremy Packer.