Pedro Mule

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Pedro Mule is an illustrator whose poster and logo designs are reminiscent of 1960’s Grateful Dead posters: graphic, a little trippy, and always cool.

Pedro Mule is the creative alias of Peter Mueller. He chose this alternative name because a lot of his friends call him Pedro and other folks tend to mispronounce his last name as Mule -er rather than Mueller. Pedro decided to embrace the mispronunciation by taking the name as a sort of totem representing the dedicated work ethic he felt he shared with that pack animal – the mule.

I knew Pedro when he was just a kid catching a ride to high school with my son. So, it was great fun for me to reconnect with him and hear how art became so important in his life.

Pedro Mule:
“Well, I started making art as a kid, uh, as long as I can remember, honestly. And I was very fortunate to have parents that recognized that, especially my Mom. And they were very supportive of that, which turned into going to art classes in the summer. If I didn’t even want to go I was kind of dragged to it. Now, looking back, I am very thankful for that. I took every class that I could.”

“And it reached the point in my senior year that I had maybe two or three periods, that was all that I did. And, I loved it. You know, there were times that we were jokin’ around with the other kids that gathered in those classes, but it also gave you that free range to express yourself. And, that is where my head and my heart was in high school. I wasn’t into sports much, besides biking or skating. That felt like home to me, versus, going to the football games and soccer games. It just wasn’t for me.”

“But with art, I just always felt you found a place. And, no matter how wild and crazy you were, it was always accepted. And, that’s what I loved, you know, no matter what.”

The graphic lines in Pedro’s illustrations are in the tradition of both Toulouse Lautrec and the psychedelic 60’s. His posters and logos are definitely on the surreal side.

Pedro Mule:
“It’s different. I’d like to say it’s original. You know, I’m sure it’s kind of a mash up of all sorts of artists throughout the years. I’ve been told it kind of looks like Filmore posters: Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin, those kind of artists. And even locally, there was an artist years ago whose name was Ron Wharton. And, you’d come into Ocean City and these murals are just dripping off walls. And it’s like, you know, when I was a kid I was like. “These are really wild.” And, it actually made you feel comfortable with being different. It made you realize that no matter how crazy or wild may be, that it is accepted in this world.”

“My style now, I found that doing digital work. And, I’ve been doing digital artwork for about four years now. And honestly, I really enjoy it. It’s a challenge. I’m actually using a tablet to draw. So, it’s still hand drawn. I’m not waving a wand in the air, and presto. But the beauty about it is that the world is yours on there. I mean really: any color you want, any style of brush. I mean, really, you can take anywhere you want to.”

“You know, for me, I am just drawing art, and I love it. And, it’s fun to see when other people get that same satisfaction just by looking at it.”

“I still love pen and marker. Because it’s permanent, you have to think about it. Me, I like nice clean lines, stuff that really pops. You know when I create something, I want it to kind of jump out at you. I want you to be able to just not walk by and brush it off. I want you to stop for a moment and really take a look at it.”

Pedro’s day job is as a carpenter. But his time off from that is fairly consumed with creative pursuits.

Pedro Mule:
“You know, that helps me stay stable and balance. But I also find a balance with having a fulltime job and then coming home and being able to come home and zone out or really dive into my artwork. And, to me, I need that. I need that balance, just like with anything else. It certainly helps me to be more enthusiastic about artwork rather than pencil pushing all day long, and making it more of a job than an enjoyment.”

“And then, come my weekends, that’s all I really do. I might have some errands to run but, come home, I’m always drawing or doing something creative: woodworking, painting. You know, whatever I can get my hands on really.”

“When I am drawing, 99% of the time I have my headphones on. And music, I think, it certainly opens up those flood gates for me at times, where you can just focus on what you are doing. You can escape from the real world for a while. And. I listen to anything from the Beatles, to Slayer, to Patsy Cline. I mean, there’s either good or bad music but, not to get off subject, it certainly helps kind of maintain my focus on whatever is the task at hand. But, as far as the process is concerned, music is certainly involved. Um, I kind of cozy up with a cup of coffee and kind of shut out the world for a while, and kind of hone in on what’s in front of me.”

Art is not only a pleasant pastime for Pedro. He says that supportive friends encouraged him to pursue it more professionally.

Pedro Mule:
“About for years ago, I was doing a lot of this for myself and a buddy of mine, his name is Bill Todd, and he actually called me and said, “Hey, I’m working at this brewery, and I’d love to get your art on the walls here. Are you interested in doing a poster?” And, I said: “Sure.”

“Out of a longtime friend, it developed a string of more artwork. And lately it’s really just someone giving me a call or a shout on the web, saying, “Hey, we love your work. Are you interested in doing this, this, or this?” I’ve had people come to me for album covers. I’ve had people come to me for books recently.”

“I never say no depending on the situation. Because, you never know what experience you are going to gain out of that. For me, I love doing what I do. And no matter reaction I get, as long as I am happy with my piece, that’s all that matters anymore.”

“Like I said, it’s an escape from life, really. And, I hold that very dearly. And I don’t take it for granted anymore. I’m really uh, motivated to keep my craft strong, and learn each and every day. Because, honestly, it’s been a learning experience each and every day. Every time I draw, I’ve kept his notion in my head to keep practicing every day, no matter how long or short the time is. Always keep a pen in your hand, a piece of paper in front of you, just to keep it sharp.”

“You know, it’s tough. There are times I will go a week long and I’m like, “My gosh, I feel like I’m out of place.” But, once I get back into it, I’m like, “Ah. This is where I call home.”

“I guess my message to any other artist is to just be yourself. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.”

“I think we just get to a point where we are just comfortable. And, as much as we like that comfort, at the same time we become stagnant. It becomes a rut in my opinion. And, I love shaking that up. I love breaking out of the norm. You know, try something different, whatever it may be.”

“The thing is you’ll never know what you are good at; or you may have a talent that you may never have known, until you try it. And, life is too short to hold back and have the media or whoever telling you otherwise. If you feel it in your heart and your mind, go for it.”

Pedro will be participating in a show called Monstrous at the Globe in Berlin in January 2017. Visit Pedro Mule Art on Facebook to find out more about his work: