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Creeper of MKE | 2015 | 36” x 20” | Mixed media on charred wood panel
Creeper of MKE | 2015 | 36” x 20” | Mixed media on charred wood panel

Artist Interview: Jake Keeler

The most badass fly fishing art this side of a monster GT eat!

Combine fantastical imagery with heavy metal album covers & you start to get insight into how Jake Keeler views his artistic world. Stir into the mix a healthy love of fly fishing, nature & things once living, and you have possibly the most badass fly fishing art this side of a monster GT eat! Telling fly fishing stories from the crypt you are about to be introduced to Jake Keeler.

Jake Keelers’ art is a mix of aggressive lines within a delicate collage of colours & shading. It is almost a perfect representation of how we consider fly fishing as a form of physical poetry, but combined with the aggressive nature of the fish we chase (think about it). We at Vagabond Fly love the texture to his art, we are equally pumped at the way Jake’s art offers a fresh new visual stimulant to our fly fishing lifestyle. You can now add necromancer to your list of symbiotic fly fishing relationships … but enough about what we think, here is a brief catch up we had with the man himself.

You can follow Jake Keeler on:


Apex Midwest | 2015 | 72” x 16” | Mixed media on wood panel

What inspires you to produce art?

I’ve always had a drive to create. I can’t remember a life without drawing, without making things. I think somewhere along my life I realised that my purpose was to bring things into existince; to create images and share those images, objects and ideas with other people. Art is the core of who I am, and the core of how I want shape, change and influence the world in a positive and constructive manner.

What is your favourite subject?

Nature in it’s many forms. Fish have been front and centre presently, but for a much longer time it has been bones, skulls and the remains of things once living. I love combining those two lines, which is in essence how the Necromancer works.

Jayrock The Beast of Bitchin’ | 2015 | 36” x 20” | Mixed media on wood panel

What is the most daunting subject that you ever painted/drawn?

Portraits for sure. I’ve done a fair share, although not for some time now. Capturing someone accurately is hard enough, but making it “look” like them is the real challenge.

Which is more important to you, the subject of your artwork or the way that it is portrayed?

I think the way it’s portrayed

Describe your process in layman’s terms (try to keep it concise)

Typically I have an image in my head, or I see something that inspires me. I make sketch perhaps, but many times I will go straight to making a preliminary pencil drawing on a wood panel, paper, etc. Once I’ve worked out the lines and proportions a bit, I then switch to drawing pens to create the image. Then I work in inks or watercolours if warranted, and then the long process of line work and detail begins.

Some of these steps can go quickly in succession, others take days/weeks/months to mull over until I feel I can make the next step.

What is your favourite material to work on/with?

Pen and ink/watercolour on wood panel or quality watercolour paper.

What is your favourite artist tool?


Why Skulls, Skeletons and demons and not pink ponies and unicorns?

D & D had a strong influence on my upbringing…although the unicorns in Legend where pretty rad.

Gonterakus The Conjurer | 2014 | 24” x 24” | Pen and acrylic on wood

What food, drinks and music keeps you going best whilst in the zone producing art?

Coffee and water. I like to stay focused and energised.

Which artist/s do you draw inspiration from?

Too many to list, but lately Eric Skinner has been a source of inspiration – that dude just rips, creates and exudes good vibes.

What are your top five tips to becoming a better artist?

  1. Practice – or, make a point to draw/create/sing or whatever on a regular basis
  2. Spend equal to more time observing vs. making marks
  3. Make what you know (what you do, who you are)
  4. Don’t be afraid to make bad work, corny work, silly work, and/or any kind of work you think may not be received seriously
  5. Don’t focus too much on what other people are doing – focus on making your own work the best it can be

Is there a specific piece that you are most proud of and why?

I did a drawing of a smallmouth bass for a joint project with Fulton Brewing and Friends of the Mississippi River. A special beer was made, along with a t-shirt using my drawing, all to raise money for the work being done by the Friends of the Mississippi River to protect and preserve that waterway.

When my work can be used to do good, there is no better feeling.

How do you know when a piece is finished?

Great question – it’s never the same…but I have learned to listen to the works; they will tell you when to stop.

Are you an artist turned fly fisher or fly fisher turned artist?

Artist turned fly fisher.

River Dragon | 2015 | 16” x 20” | Pen and ink on wood

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