Andy Firth is former Queensland boat builder who is now making a killing out of hand painted replica human skulls.
Firth, 31, sells his skulls to a worldwide market – including US celebrities – who are snapping them up at a rate of about 200 a month, at prices ranging from $US350 ($440) to more than $US1000 ($1260).
Made from the same materials Hollywood uses to craft props. Firth’s skulls are anatomically correct and, until painted, difficult to tell from the real thing – one of which sits on a nearby shelf.
That real human skull, said to be about 200 years old, was a gift from a grateful customer in the United States.
“A customer in the US bought some of my work and then told me he had sent me something in return,” Firth said. “I couldn’t believe it when I opened the parcel and it was a real human skull.”
Firth sees himself as an artist with skulls as his canvas.
He started his business, Jack of the Dust, in 2013 when he made the tough decision to quit his job building boats at Riviera on the Gold Coast, to chase his dream.
The move paid off almost immediately. Most of his sales outside Australia come from the US, England, Canada and Mexico.
He has built up a huge following of 436,000 on Instagram (@jackofthedust) and 120,000 on Facebook – including Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Slash, singer Chris Brown and comedian Joe Rogan, one of the world’s most popular podcasters.
Firth admits the business attracts the occasional strange customer but insists most are mainstream people who appreciate his product.
“Mainly they are blokes who have a man cave, or a pool room, or cigar room,” he said.
“But I even have office girls buy my skulls.”
He sees his creations as being particularly popular among people who admire tattoos.
“It’s like whoever is interested in tattoos would be interested in this,” he said. “But you don’t put it on your skin. It’s a skull for your house.”