Film : Jeremy Mayhew blends his Vineyard roots and his imagination
Photo by Michele Mayhew
Jeremy Mayhew, 35, is a multimedia artist specializing in film and animation.
Born, raised, and currently residing in Chilmark, Mr. Mayhew is an artist with many talents. Fortunately for himself, he has fine-tuned his crafts to garner attention from the Island community and non-Islanders alike.
When he was growing up, Mr. Mayhew found he had a natural proclivity towards art. He could only see himself as an illustrator, comic book artist, or a prosthetic makeup artist for gory horror movies. Today, he has yet to break into the horror-effects business, but he has crafted his art into finely tuned pieces of animated poetry, exploratory filmmaking, and graphic design.
Mr. Mayhew's Island lineage stretches back through many, many generations. He remembers what a "big" transition it was going from attending classes of five children at the Chilmark School to the grandiose classes of 30 at West Tisbury School.
He has worked many of the Island trades growing up — carpentry, landscaping, commercial fishing, and even film projectionist. The seeds of filmmaking were planted in Jeremy's mind, by chance, while learning the family trade.
Mr. Mayhew's father is a commercial fisherman. At age 11, his father bought the first family video camera and entrusted young Jeremy to be the "documenter" for swordfishing trips. On these voyages, a young Mr. Mayhew first discovered his passion for film and video. He realized he could manipulate the "perspective" of the moment. If the moment was landing a massive swordfish, he found it more interesting to experiment with how his hand looked in the shot for scale. Whatever editing trickery he could muster had more interest to his 11-year-old imagination than the catch of the day.
Mr. Mayhew attended The University of The Arts in Philadelphia, where he primarily focused on traditional filmmaking and animation techniques, history, and theory. There, he learned the not-so-common skill of linear film editing. He still has love for Philadelphia, but the Vineyard is home.
Traditional film editing requires the images to be arranged and ordered in a predetermined sequence. This calls for long hours of intensive cutting and pasting. Though this practice has almost entirely been replaced by digital editing systems, Mr. Mayhew believes that his training in traditional editing gave him a strong sense of cinematic language to use in his work today.
Mr. Mayhew has done work for Island organizations such as the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival, which has utilized his talents in video animation and graphic design. Currently, he is creating motion design work for Redken, a sub-division of L'Oreal hair care products.
When asked about being hired as a freelance artist by a company such as Redken, Mr. Mayhew explained how creating art for someone else can have its benefits. "It keeps you exercising your work while you're adapting to someone's else's creative vision," he said. "Okay, somebody wants you to get a message across, how do they want you to handle it? You try to put your creative stuff into it, but you realize it's not the same thing as when you're just purely going to do some creative exercise for yourself that can elevate your own spirit a little bit."
Aside from his freelance work, Mr. Mayhew makes time to create film pieces for himself. "That's the passion project; those are my poems," he said.
Mr. Mayhew has what I call a "passion portfolio" available for anyone to see online at Vimeo.com. His site boasts about 16 videos that he has made, and they are great examples of his talents. His series "Looking Up" exhibits wonderful time-lapse photography of varying geographic locations. Both the "Cinema Circus" introduction reel and "Man Man Banana Ghost-Redux" showcase Jeremy's skill in animation and give a sense of his illustration style.
"I guess there isn't one way to sum it up," Mr. Mayhew said when asked about his artistic style and which genre would best describe his work. "But it's more about exploring in some sense. It's almost a different kind of invention. I can't say I'm into one particular genre, because I still see the arts on a fundamental level sharing the same root."
Mr. Mayhew's films are unique compilations of different types of art: music, photography, animation — it's all there. Like all great artists, he has taken his life experiences, interests, and passions to create an art unique to himself, and unique to the Vineyard.
Watch Jeremy Mayhew's films on vimeo.com. Search Jeremy Mayhew.
Ben Stiller, of Vineyard Haven, is a 2006 graduate of M.V. Regional High School and a 2010 graduate of Clark University in Worcester.