Andy Firth is a self-taught Australian artist of the social generation, known for his signature canvas: the human skull. Capturing the gentle intricacies of lives once lived, Firth’s work has captivated an engaged audience of over 2.5 million people Worldwide! His clientele includes Joe Rogan, Slash, Jason Momoa, Chris Brown and Nikkie Tutorials.
For the past decade, Firth has remained widely anonymous under the title ‘Jack Of The Dust’. Established in a home garage in 2013, his operation’s alluring namesake is an 1800s Royal Navy term that represents Firth’s revival of characters, cultures and the stories that surround them. Firth has now grown ‘Jack of The Dust’ to a full-time crew of 15, and operates from two Burleigh Heads warehouses spanning 7500 square feet on Australia’s Gold Coast. ‘Jack of The Dust’ exists to crack through the limits of imagination on adventure, where the human experience is never truly dead! And with that being said, here’s Part 1 of our bone-chilling interview with Andy Firth.
Why the skull?
It’s pretty funny, actually, the first skull I ever worked on kind of just fell in my lap by chance. It was a cheeky housewarming gift from my new roommates. It was so tacky that, with the help of YouTube videos, I got to work making it look a bit cooler … and the rest is history.
Over the years, skulls have remained a constant for my art, but not in some gruesome death-obsessed way. Instead, I see using skulls as my canvas, a way to breathe life back into the characters, cultures, and people that have made up humankind throughout history. Usually, a skull in a grave means the end of a chapter. I like to rebuild these relics to let those stories live a little longer.
After that first skull, I was hooked. The ideas just started flowing and I couldn’t wait to experiment with other concepts on new skulls! Today, the skulls I work with are a modified version of what you’d find in a movie studio. Every piece is crafted from scratch. While I didn’t create this medium, I’ve adapted it to suit the type of creations I wish to bring to life. Like all mediums, there are certain limitations to what I can do, but I am always trying to push these boundaries further and further, which gives me more creative freedom.
With my artwork, everything I do is self-taught, which I see as a huge advantage, since if you’re learning from someone else, you’re limited to repeating what’s already been done. Walking into the unknown is always more challenging, but it can also be far more rewarding to follow your own path.
What is the most expensive skull you ever sold?
I would have to say – The Octoskull – which was sold for $3,199 US. Usually, I’m always trying to keep my artwork within the realm of being affordable, but this was the one piece where I said “fuck it”. To make one ‘Octoskull’ it takes 9 separate molds and each tentacle has to be grafted into the body individually along with its suckers and a seamless finish. Paired with the electric colorway of the Australian Blue ringed octopus, this piece to me is very special. It exudes danger, death and beauty all in one piece.
Which skull is your favorite?
My favorite does tend to change from time to time, but my current flavor of the month is the “Crystal skull”. It’s a solid cast skull made from k9 crystal and molded from my anatomically correct tarnished human skull with the addition of a few modifications to add extra reflectivity and clarity. It has the look and feel of solid glass, and when it’s on display it reflects all the colours of its surrounding area, which makes it totally unique compared to every other skull I have created.
It weighs in at 11 lbs, which is quite heavy for its size. Just to add some contrast the weight of a real human skull averages around 5.5lbs without the mandible. It’s a very simple yet effective piece and I don’t believe there has been a skull made to this standard before, so I’m very excited about its release in the coming months.
Is there an original skull matrix from which all others are made, and if so, is it a real human skull?
There are a few different skulls that I base my new creations on. Some I completely hand sculpted and others are resculpted versions of human anatomy skulls. Many people have speculated that I use real human skulls in my process, but don’t worry, it’s not true!
Your skulls are unquestionably unique. Did you realize this when you started creating them or were you doing something that you love, and the world just woke up to your art?
For as long as I can remember I have always had an explosive imagination and when I shifted that energy into creating artwork, I felt like the possibilities were endless! At the start, my ideas were quite mild. But as my skill set grew, I found myself being able to create and express more imaginative ideas. My growth as an artist has always been slow and steady. Each new creation I bring to life seems to attract more and more attention.
What materials do you use to create your skulls and how long does it take for you to create one on average?
Each piece uses a urethane resin that you would typically find in a special FX studio. This material is so versatile and perfect for my pieces since it replicates the look of steel, stone and bone. To bring a new creation to life, the process takes four months from start to finish. This includes sculpting, mold making, casting and painting. Generally, we only like to work on 20-40 skulls of each piece at one time, since the process is so lengthy.
Are each of your skulls one-of-a-kind? Do you make copies?
Through my process, my master sculptures get destroyed, an ironic ode to the second life of my subjects. After I finish sculpting, I create a master matrix mold, which signifies the death of my artwork. But the life of its legacy lives on through that mold.
Interview organized by Maximus Communications. The World Art News (WAN) is not liable for the content of this publication. All statements and views expressed herein are only an opinion. Act at your own risk. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission. © The World Art News