ONCE IN A GREAT WHILE, AN ARTIST COMES ALONG AND CHANGES THE WAY YOU LOOK AT LIFE. THEIR WORK FILLS YOU WITH SUCH GENTLE BEAUTY AND SPIRITUALITY, THAT YOU EMBRACE FRIENDS AND ENEMIES AS IF THEY WERE FAMILY. JAY MUELLER JUST MAKES GREAT FUCKING ART WITH CAMERAS, BLOOD, AND ANIMAL SKULLS. DARBY O'GILL MIKE-WALLACED JAY TO FIND OUT WHAT MAKES THIS ART HEARTTHROB TICK.
Darby: Well, Jay, what's been going on?
Jay: I just got back from my ten year high school reunion.
D: How did that go?
J: Good. One of my friends is a fireman now, and is dating a model. Just a lot of crazy shit.
D: Any big plans for this Halloween?
J: I actually have a show on Halloween night.
J: It's a fetish show that will also showcase artwork. The show is called Trauma, and it’s sponsored by Evolved Tattoo. It's going to be at the Red Zone in Columbus at 87 West Main Street. I also have a show in Chicago, and that opens the 19th of October and runs through November 16th.
D: Where in Chicago?
J: The Feitico Gallery at 1821 West North Avenue, in Chicago. They're open Thursday thru Saturday. I forgot what the hours are, but you can call for an appointment.
D: Man, you just get right to it, don't you? Not even two minutes in and you're plugging away. Any other plugs?
J: (laughing) I think that's it.
D: Then let's move on. You didn't always do photography. What were you doing at first?
J: Well, before I did photography, I wanted to work for the Muppets doing three-dimensional illustration. I had a job with a band called The Insane War Tomatoes, where I learned how to work with fiberglass, latex, and stuff like that. When I went to art school, I couldn't quite keep up with the techniques. I had a very different work ethic when I worked for the War Tomatoes; it was a little bit slower. At art school, I was required to take a photo class for my illustration degree, and I wasn't really digging the illustration class as much as I thought I would. I ended up falling in love with my photo class, and just went from there.
D: Weren't you at one point going to go to clown school?
J: Yes. I really didn't know what to do after college, and my parents kind of wanted me to get a Masters in something, so I thought going to clown school as a graduate school would be fun. The only real purpose of that was to join the circus, but I don't think I could dedicate that much time to the circus.
D: Be honest. Weren't you going to go to clown school just so you could beat up mimes?
J: Well, you do as much as possible to make sure you can beat up mimes. That kind of goes without saying. I'm quite sure that they had some sort of mime combat class.
D: Your whole style has changed many times over the years. At first you started by doing portraits. But as it progressed you started doing more, well, “fucked up” photos is the only way I can describe it. Shortly after, you started using multiple prints of an image to make collage pieces. What was it that got you into doing the collage work?
J: Well, I didn't like just taking photographs. Before I got into photography, I was doing a lot of painting and illustration work. Because of all that, I don't think just making a photograph alone was doing it for me. That, and I think it also helps compensate for my poor photo skills. But that's not the main reason I did it. I just like to make it more interesting for myself. It also, in a way, makes it pretty enough for my parents to accept, due to the subject matter. I also like the dichotomy of making pretty looking pieces, with really strange subject matters, just with the nudes in general. I like adding more to the piece.
D: Also, most photography doesn't have an original piece, aside from the negative. Whereas with the way you produce your work, every piece is a one-of-a-kind original.
J: That sounds so much better than what I just said.
D: I was just saying they're collectable in that way.
J: You’re right! That's also another reason why I do it.
D: In addition to all of your photography, you also do a lot of body artwork that you create yourself.
J: My tattoos?
D: Yeah. And not only do you design all your own tattoos, but each one has its own special meaning, doesn't it?
J: Yeah. I didn’t want tattoos so much when I was younger, but once I started getting older I wanted them. My first one was my “Mom” tattoo, to kind of ease the road for my parents a little bit. I got tattoos about my family first. I did a “Mom” one, then I did one that represented me and my sisters, and one for my father. Then I just went from there. I also have one for the Ramones, which I consider the first great punk band. They really influenced every other band from that point on. I have E=MC2 on my knuckles, which is for Einstein. I'm not a mathematician by any means; I just thought he was an awesome man. And E=MC2 is always true.
D: Well, it's always relative.
J: That's true. Also, for the influences that Mad magazine has imposed upon me, I have "What, Me Worry?" across my back. And in the middle of my back I have a bar code, for, ah,...
D: For scanning purposes?
D: For when the day comes, because we all know it's coming. You’re just one step ahead of everyone else.
J: I just wanted to be the first.
D: It's probably safe to assume that Halloween is one of your favorite holidays?
J: Yes, it is.
D: Do you have a favorite Halloween costume from the past?
J: Well, last year I was Hitler as a Bunny. So I had two costumes last year. I was basically Hitler in his Halloween costume. People wouldn't talk to me, but I still had a really good time.
D: In the past you've done photo series, which have involved a theme or story, where you would illustrate the story through your work. You did a piece about Adam and Eve titled "The Expulsion". Are you still doing pieces like that, or have you withdrawn from it?
J: I've pretty much strayed from it, but I thought about going back to it. I want to do an Alice in Wonderland series.
D: That would be very cool to see done in your style.
J: Yeah. I would like to do it. But, I keep having problems with what model to use, and exactly what aspects of it to do. I keep thinking about it.
D: You would have a lot of use of your puppet skills with that project.
J: That's something I want to make sure I have tons of time to do; to create everything I would need for it, and to make sure I did it right.
D: In this issue we talked with Charles Manson. Do you have any serial killers you’re particularly fond of?
J: Well, you can't really condone the killing, but one of my favorites is probably one of the first and foremost to come into American lore: Ed Gein. The fact that he's inspired all the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies. And there’s a movie about him titled Ed Gein, that's really good. He was just immensely disturbed; all the flesh suits and stuff. He also decorated his house with skulls and bones.
D: Didn't he make a chair with the bones, or was it just part of the folklore?
J: I don't know. That might just be folklore. But, he did make the suit out of human skin. As far as the sickest thing someone has ever done, he, by far, takes the cake. David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam guy talking to the dogs is pretty funny. And I'd say the Zodiac Killer, for the simple fact that he's never been caught.
D: Do dogs have lips?
J: Well, I know they definitely have tongues. I would say yes, dogs do have lips.
D: Speaking of skulls and dogs, are you still working on your animal skull art?
J: Yeah. I'm still working on sculptures of animal skulls. It's going slower than my photo stuff, but I still do them. I use animal skulls that my friends and family help me get. One of the completed ones is called "Have You Ever Wondered What Happens To You When You Die?" It's a dog skull that has its mouth disjointed, so it's wide open, and it has a foot-long forked tongue coming out of it. It's also got a clown nose, doll eyes, and a halo and wings. Painted on the skull is also a fortune cookie that reads, "Smile. It brightens everyone's day." I'm working on making a lamp version of it. I want to make it so when you pull on the tongue, the whole skull lights up. I just have to work on all the electrical stuff to make it work.
D: Are you still playing bass?
J: Yes. Right now I'm in a band called 1,000 Watt Trauma. And we're playing--
D: Uh oh. I feel a plug coming on.
J: We're playing a metalfest in Columbus. It's November 1st and 2nd from 4pm to 2am both days.
D: Go ahead. Tell us where.
J: (laughs) It's at Illusions Neighborhood Pub on Dublin-Granville Road. We're still working on stuff. It's going to be our first show. Right now we only have four songs.
D: So you have some work ahead of you.
J: We've got a lot of work ahead of us. But it's always a lot of fun.
CONTACT JAY AT MONKEYBOY663@HOTMAIL.COM TO SEE MORE ARTWORK.