"My main drive is the thrill of the hunt in finding an old machine and the challenge of bringing it back to life..."

April 9, 2016


Meet Joe Brewer of Brewer’s Arcade. He restores and collects vintage arcade games and is located in the Gateway Arts District. Learn what drives him and how he discovered his art form.


How did you discover the medium you currently work in?


I became interested in restoring classic arcade and pinball machines after picking up a dilapidated Ms. Pac Man off the side of the road. This machine made me realize that there is an important artistic history to classic coin-op machines ranging from the painting/design of the cabinets, design and art concept for a machine, and design/graphics for the actual game and physics. After researching the myriad of artists involved in the coin-op industry in the 1980's, I became interested in learning about the various styles that the artists used to create new machines.  


How do you define "artist"?


Any artist is anyone who creates in any medium available at hand. I have found that some of the best artists in the world don't even realize they are an artist.


How did you discover the Gateway Arts District?


Former Mount Rainier councilman Brent Bolin stated his interest in having me be an active member in the Gateway Arts District and opening my private arcade to the public to view and enjoy.


If you could give your younger self a piece of advice about being an artist, what would it be?


I would advise myself to learn and practice as many artistic mediums as possible. I would also have advised myself to always trust my own instincts and create what I enjoy first. Finally, I would let myself know to hoard as many original arcade parts as I possibly could since they are next to impossible to find now.


What drives you?



As both a musician and arcade/pinball preservationist, I enjoy knowing that there is always new music to write and always a machine in need of restoration/preservation. My main drive is the thrill of the hunt in finding an old machine and the challenge of bringing it back to life.           


What is your greatest challenge as an artist?


My challenges are unique because I am restoring pieces that were initially created by others. The biggest challenge is finding the proper parts and color matching the machines to restore them to their original factory finish. Time is always a challenge because you can never find enough of it.  


What are you working on right now?


Right now I am currently restoring a 1981 Nintendo Donkey Kong upright arcade machine. I will be painting the cabinet, rebuilding the original monitor, rebuilding the control panel which includes rebuilding the joystick, buttons, repairing the PCB (printed circuit board), and installing new artwork.


Come to #OST2016 on May, 14th to experience great artists like Joe Brewer. Checkout Joe’s Youtube page.



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