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"I Am an Andy Mueller"

by Steve Brydges / Lens Jennifer Pitt

At an out-of-place hair's reach of 6'1", Andy Mueller, a blonde and broad-shouldered twenty-nine year-old photographer and graphic design whiz from Ann Arbor, Michigan, has thrived on opportunities he created for himself not by looks (as handsome as though he may be), natural ability (no one is born with knowledge of how to operate a MAC, no matter how easy it is to use), etc., but by his sweeping vision, determinedness, and toil. It also helps he has amazing eyes that see things through a camera's lens like few others do. His uncanny ability to view objects on a page or on a screen and arrange them in unique and powerful ways doesn't hurt, either. He is an artist with a mouse. These innate abilities were honed by his continuous desire to improve his skill with a camera and with a computer. For Mueller, ability alone is nothing without capability, and the latter required him to study and work hard.

After spending the first eleven years of his life in Michigan, Mueller moved with his family to Illinois, where he eventually studied at University of Illinois. From 1994 through 1999, he lived and worked in Chicago as a freelance graphic designer, photographer and film producer. How an after-school hobby of silk-screening T-shirts of his favorite bands with logos found in magazines or on record covers (he thinks he sold one for five dollars once), an absorbing and time-consuming operation he did in his parents' laundry room, turned into a twelve-hour-per-day entrepreneurial endeavor known as OhioGirl, Inc., is a classic example of snowballing.

A handful of no-budget Stone Roses and Sonic Youth T-shirts beget one of his photographs being placed on a record cover for Steakdaddy Six (Nick Macri of C-Clamp's unfortunately-named first band), beget a job silk-screening some T-shirts for Honcho Overload, which turned into a job doing their photography and packaging for their CD. Although he didn't do the actual design, the Honcho Overload CD marked Mueller's first experience as art-director of a project. Also, it was here the name OhioGirl first appeared, mostly as a joke. Having a design firm's name on the project gave it an appearance of being larger than it was. He made OhioGirl T-shirts while he taught himself how to use the Macintosh. Before he knew it, by 1995, OhioGirl was no longer an in-joke. It was a full-time job. That distant rumbling Mueller heard in his ears was the avalanche he had created for himself.

A tireless Mueller worked long, seemingly endless hours on a variety of challenging and intriguing projects (and some less-than-intriguing jobs) to pay the bills. OhioGirl's demand grew. Team OhioGirl, as Mueller likes to refer to himself, John Fuller, Craig Champion, et al, soon found themselves working on band videos that would appear on MTV (Hum's "Stars" was played multiple times-a-day for almost three weeks back in 1995; it was later mocked by Beavis & Butthead), creating graphics for a line of snowboards for Burton, doing film, directing, and numerous choice assignments doing photography and graphic design for rock bands.

Mueller had become a successful businessman, an artist thriving outside the archetypal mold while using the tried-and-true methods of tireless effort and marketable ability.

As if this wasn't enough, Mueller partnered with Macri to form OhioGold, a label that has proceeded to drop album after stunning album on the unsuspecting and the eagerly awaiting. Dianogah's As Seen From Above, C-Clamp's Meander and Return and Longer Waves, and Pinebender's Things Are About to Get Weird are highly-regarded albums around the Copper Press compound.

Mueller and Champion also began a clothing company called TheQuietLife, whose designs trickled their way onto a few heavyweight hooded-sweatshirts and T-shirts Currently, TheQuietLife is simmering on the back burner in Mueller's mind.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with small-business owners, Mueller scarcely had time to enjoy his success. Work was a constant, and no matter how much he enjoyed - no, thrived on it, his situation in Chicago was starting to wear on him.

Therefore, after much deliberation, in late-1999, Mueller and his girlfriend packed up the cats, the rolls of posters, and the MACs and moved to Los Angeles, where Mueller took a position at Girl Skateboards as the art director for Lakai, the company's new line of skateboarding shoes. He's even harder to get a hold of now (you'd be amazed at how many meetings these snow/skate companies have), but, as the following interview reveals, Mueller believes he now has more time than ever to concentrate on OhioGirl.

We should count ourselves among the lucky ones.

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