Jacob Butler is a North Fremantle artist who has made a name for himself through his unique,
self-taught painting style. Dubbed ‘Shakey Jakey’ due to a tremor he has had since birth, despite this
Jacob can paint with amazing life-like detail. He has been commissioned to create a Fremantle-inspired mural on the iconic North Fremantle liquor store, Old Bridge Cellars. Kira had a chat with Shakey about painting, community engagement and Bon Scott.
One of the oldest independent liquor stores in the state, Old Bridge Cellars is well known for its eclectic range of fine wine, craft beer and its Western Australian sea creature murals. The painting kicks off on 22 October and the mural will come to life quickly after that.
Hi Jacob, how did you get into painting, and what inspires you to make art?
My first painting was in 2013, I was working on the wharf in Kwinana, bored out of my brain but earning a good wage. I finally had heaps of spare time but had no direction in life or purpose. I thought, without financial pressures I finally I had a chance to practise what I had kept dormant all my life – artwork. I began by drawing on my workmates hard-hats. Black and white turned into colour as I learnt how to use paint markers, then turned to acrylics, pastels, oils and aerosols – pretty soon the canvases got bigger. I am self-taught and my art studio was the wharf.
What inspires me to make art is the urge to want to share experiences and stories with everyone and the best way I know how to do that is through artwork.
Who came up with the moniker ‘Shakey Jakey’?
My whole life I’ve had a thing called ‘benign essential tremor’ which means my hands are constantly shaking, even as a baby. Sometimes you can’t even notice it but other times its quite noticeable and I tend to spill my drink a lot. One day on the wharf during roll call, one of the team leaders yelled out “Shakey!” instead of Jakey, I lost it laughing and the name stuck ever since.
You’ve collaborated with some big names in tourism, media, health and other sectors – how did this commission with Old Bridge Cellars and Gage Roads Brewing Co come about?
I used to live in the old church hall behind Mojo’s in North Fremantle. My favourite walk was down the road with my dog Banjo to visit Old Bridge Cellars. I loved picking up my favourite drop, chatting to staff and enjoying the cheerful and welcoming environment. I was stoked when I heard Gage Roads was onboard, Ive always been a big fan of their beers. I also used to work at their brewery casually during my uni days so I’ve had my fair share of tastings!
Another thing I loved about Old Bridge Cellars was their iconic murals on the storefront. I always had my eye on the crab mural and wished for the chance of leaving my mark there one day as well. Earlier this year, I walked in one day to buy a carton and had a chat with Toby. Unbelievably, an opportunity to paint a mural came up. I couldn’t be more stoked!
Fremantle is iconic in different ways to different people… how did you choose which elements of the local lifestyle to include in the Old Bridge Cellars mural?
Living in North Fremantle, one of my favourite memories was to head to the beach with my now-wife Ange with our dogs, local food and a few coldies. I just wanted to capture that feeling, with all the key Fremantle elements, beach, wharf, dingo flour mill etc. To pull off the design and make sure it was authentic, Ange and I collaborated with the legends at Old Bridge Cellars to nut out the key elements to include in the mural. When the locals pass by the mural, I want them to share that same uplifting feeling.
A lot of your paintings include icons that are special to those of us who love Perth and WA. We hear you are a Bon Scott fan! What and who are your favourite subjects to paint?
I am a huge Bon Scott fan! I get inspired by people who stay true to themselves and dedicate themselves to honing their craft and chasing their dreams. My favourite subjects to paint, are the characters that you meet in life who have really pushed life experiences to the limit- good or bad. Those who have faces that could tell a million stories, they could be the underdog, loved, hated or both.
You’ve led many workshops within different sectors of the community. What is important to you about this kind of work, and what is a ‘Banjo side painting’?
When I decided I wanted to pursue art full-time, I was offered a role to conduct workshops for people with disabilities with Life Without Barriers. Art workshops are hugely fulfilling for me and the day I decided to become an artist my whole life changed. I want to inspire and hopefully give others that positive opportunity as much as possible. I think the disadvantaged, through either physical disabilities or mental health issues, are the people who can benefit the most through creating art.
When I started the workshops, untrained and self-taught, it was quite daunting, so I used to bring Banjo to the classes to help me out; he would bring so much joy to students whilst I was teaching. So to thank him for having my back, I try and incorporate him into as many paintings as I can.
What else have you been working on lately, and where can we see more of your work?
Every day I am finishing up a painting or working on a new project. During the weekdays I am working on mural designs with Ange or painting at Level Up Studios – my new studio in Fremantle.
I’m also working on exciting new painting projects with The Bell Tower Times. On weekends I am painting at weddings or live-paintings at events. You can check out recent murals at North Cottesloe Surf Club in North Cott, The Josh Kennedy mural at the 21st Amendment Bar in Leederville and the Sealink Quokka mural at Blue HQ in Fremantle. The easiest place to view my recent work is on Instagram, Facebook or my website.
As a North Freo native, where are your favourite haunts in the area?
From 22 October 2018, the fourth and final wall at North Fremantle liquor store, Old Bridge Cellars
will be claimed by local artist Shakey Jakey with a Freo inspired mural. The Old Bridge Cellars team are well known for their artistic store walls and have been working closely with Shakey Jakey and major sponsors, Gage Roads Brewing Co, to plan the mural for the southern wall of the liquor store. Shakey’s beachscape mural will feature the iconic Fremantle cranes, the Dingo Flour Mill and locals with their dogs enjoying a typical Fremantle summer’s day.
In 2013 Old Bridge Cellars commissioned Indigenous artist Herbie Marshall to paint the first larger
than life WA sea creature on the side of the store, the Dhufish. Herbie’s art was such a success they
subsequently flew him down in the years to come to paint a Blue Swimmer Crab and a West Australian Rock Lobster.