When people think of art the first thing that comes to mind might be stained glass windows in a cathedral, sparkles and glitter, or murals of flowery meadows. To Baton Rouge artist, Joseph Santa, art comes in the form of skulls, black spiders and teeth.
Santa is the owner of Joseph Bones Co., which is his line of sculptures and molds. His artwork includes pieces like the Redback Spider Skull, melting candle skull, heels with teeth and more. Although his artwork isn’t traditional in doctrine, it is an intriguing combination of cameo art with gothic elements.
Growing up, Santa was always an artistic child sketching and doodling. He had always been a master at two-dimensional art. It wasn’t until he moved to Baton Rouge seven years ago that he began woodworking and molding. Some of his early works were molds of skulls he made using clay and resin. Satisfied with the way his creations were turning out, he began to pursue his strange art pieces further, like fusing his skulls with animals and anatomical molds.
“If you found a human skull remains and you wanted to use it as an ornament, how would you make it work?” Santa said in regards to his artwork.
Although his style is far from ordinary. Santa’s style is inspired by his favorite artist, Tim Burton. Burton is widely recognized for many of his films such as “Alice in Wonderland,” “Beetlejuice,” “Corpse Bride” and more. Burton’s artwork can be described as a gothic suburbia style. His “hideous” animations and characters inspire many artists all over the world.
One of Santa’s most popular art pieces, the set of teeth and a tongue inside of a woman’s heel, was inspired by “Beetlejuice” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Most of his skull work is inspired by his favorite movie, “Mad Max.”
To turn his sketches into tangible three-dimensional work, he must first start with a clay mold. From there, he casts the mold in silicone and then recreates the base skull using resin. Lastly, he uses clay on the hardened resin then bakes it for the final product. Once the skull is complete he adds other elements and tops everything off with a coat of paint. His sculptures take from a weekend to two weeks depending on complexity.
Santa hosts a showcase for local art called “Yard Art” that gives upcoming artists an opportunity to gain exposure and sell their art. Unlike most art shows, Yard Art is free for the artists and the public. It is held every month at Brickyard South in downtown Baton Rouge from 4-7 p.m. The next showcase will be Sept. 29. All of Santa’s work and contact information can be found on his Facebook or Instagram page @Joseph_bones_co and Joseph Bones Co.
It takes a true artist to turn something disgusting and creepy into art and an even better person to raise awareness for local art in the community. Santa is a master at both of these crafts.
“I do it because I love it,” Santa said. “It is a passion of mine, and I love the reaction it gets from people.”