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Mr. Mueller hails from Aachen, Germany. He was tapped by Chris Johnson to do the artwork for the 2008-2010 Deep Blues Festivals. Mr. Mueller is responsible for the striking album art for Willem Maker's newest album and his work has graced the covers of albums by Chip Hanna, Peter Murphy, and others. He has also done artwork for Muddy Roots Festival and for Rambler Magazine, Daddy Mojo Cigar Box Guitars, and Wayne "The Train" Hancock.
I am curious about your artistic influences. R. Crumb and Joe Coleman I can see. Who else inspires you?
Another major influence was Chris Ware, I was drawn to his work for the first time when I was about 14, especially by his stunning lettering style. After reading Jimmy Corrigan I was amazed how a "comic" is able to move you emotionally.
I have always been fascinated by how drawing could be used to make visible all those invisible things we deal with every day, things that are pretty much the very nature of the human experience. That's also what impressed my about R. Crumb's and Joe Coleman's work. Especially seeing Crumb's sketchbooks when I was in my early teens opened a whole world of possibilities to me, it showed me how drawing could help you cope with life better. It's a very good tool to reflect on things, once you put them on paper you are not in the middle of them anymore, you have a chance to observe them from the outside. This process has been very important to me again and again, I think it helped me somewhat understand the chaos around me.
I met Crumb in 2003 briefly, he took a look at my sketchbook from that period and encouraged me to keep at it, "keep on drawing!" he told me. That was a very important moment, a very encouraging one. I think my sails where set by that point, but getting that support from my big hero was the wind that kept me going. After that Joe Coleman encouraged me to look and dig deeper inside myself, find out more about myself. Another important day when I met him at home in Brooklyn. Not sure why I elaborate on this, I think it was very important to me to actually meet the people that had been such a great influence on me. Being acknowleged and supported by them was and still is the fuel that keeps me going on the draftman's path.
There are many obstacles and uncertainties, many people that don't really understand what you do and why, getting approval by your mentors lets you know you are on the right track.
When I write about music I always listen to whoever it is i'm writing about or I enjoy the silence. I wonder what you listen to when you work on a piece?
Music is very important. It used to be the key to get in touch with myself whenever I sat down to make a personal drawing. I liked to get carried away by songs that fit my mood, doing very little thinking, a lot of feeling and just let things happen on the paper. For some reason I have stepped a bit away from that approach recently, could be due to my analytical period I am in at the moment. But it still happens. I still don't consider myself to be the best thinker there ever was. I feel like being too much a slave to my own feelings at times. Something prevents me from thinking every now and again. Probably a good thing for my drawings, not sure yet.
Another thing about the kind of music that appeals to me is that there seems to be a somber tone to it. Wether it's the blues, country, irish folk music or Mahler, I am somehow drawn to that melancholy tone. Probably because it is anchored very deeply inside myself. It feel like home to me. And wether you channel your sorrows into sounds or lines -- it isn't that much of a difference I think.
Your font choices and often the style or layout you use in your work looks like it comes from turn of the century (or earlier, actually) American newpapers. Do you agree? If so, what can you tell me about the origin of those style choices for you?
Visually I am very much influenced by the lettering of the late 18th century. I am just blown away by the craftsmanship of those people, overall there seemed to have been much more appreciation for a craft well executed. I can spend hours just looking at old stock certificates, maps, paper money, and books from that period. I can also really relate to the spirit of the Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris or Louis Sullivan for instance, to whom's work Chris Ware introduced me a year ago. I have spend a lot of time studying ornament recently. Seems like I have turned a bit more analytical and less impulsive. I didn't really think a lot about what I was drawing in the past, that however has changed these days and I am pretty sure it shows in my work.
“I came to the solution in the last years of studying that you can try any style or whatever . . . the thing that makes your artwork interesting is when you find out what’s inside of you. Who you are. What gets you going. All that kind of stuff. That’s where it becomes real art. Or at least something that I think is worthy of doing.”
“Yeah, and the process of doing that Christoph, is painful.”
“But that’s the prize. It should be painful. Most things that are worth while in life are painful. And life, even though you might try to avoid it, which is understandable, anyone would try to avoid the fucked-up things in life, but that’s what life is about. Life is about pain. Everybody’s going to suffer, so why don’t you face the suffering that’s important to you. You’re going to suffer all the other things too. Everybody . . . No-one gets out of this world alive.”
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