Catalyst Butcher is a one-of-a-kind creative individual from Lynwood who is fascinated by death, any kind of death. In his private studio, which has rarely been photographed, he fabricates macabre art pieces using real human and animal anatomy. Yes, I am referring to human and animal body parts; from skulls, brains, organs, limbs, and even a special formula made from his own blood which he brushes on wood items for a varnished red tint. Butcher lived in Los Angeles for a few years as a kid, then moved to Lynwood and has stayed there ever since. He used to be a piercer and managed a tattoo shop years ago, until transitioning on his current artistic manifestation.
One of my first questions was why he was so interested to work with the dead and he explained, “It just speaks to me. Like the way fools fix cars and are into fixing their hot rods. All my friends are fucking tattoo artists and they feel what they do, you know? This is the only thing that comes close to that. I used to pierce and that shit didn’t come close. I used to play music, and I used to play shows all over Hollywood back in the day; in metal bands, punk bands, and all that was fun. But this is the closest thing to, like… Fucking nirvana.”
The very first time I stepped foot into Catalyst’s studio, I knew I was going to be in for a surprise. I was already aware of what he was into and what he did but I had not seen the full experience in person. When looking at his studio from the outside, the appearance seems to be low key and easily blends in with the local businesses and homes among the neighborhood. But once you open the two front doors, one after the other, you will enter into a spacious layout. It has a dark feel to it, both biblical and satanic, yet it’s full of glorious art assemblies in every nook and cranny. There’s energetic vibes with the combination of mingling good and evil. But somehow, it is still devine. Well, that’s if the dead won’t alarm you and you’re not “vasovagal.” Which is the medical term to describe someone who pretty much freaks out by blood and passes out.
And then, there was Catalyst Butcher himself, who greeted me at the door upon walking in. A tall guy with a super short buzz cut, tattoos on his arms, stretched out earlobes holding his large plugs, he was wearing a brown leather apron that kept making me think of Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. Speaking of horror movies, there was music playing on a record player the whole time I was there. The kind of music that possibly played in a classic black and white suspense movie, or from an old ballroom in the 1920s or 30s. Whatever it was, it set the mood perfectly for the environment. Another room had horror movies on VHS playing on an old television. After getting a tour of the studio and checking out human skulls, wooden coffins from the early 1900s, and all kinds of deadly items, I began to pick at Catalyst Butcher’s brain…
WR: What would you name your craft or how would you title your profession?
CB: I do… Organic human assemblage. I do assemblage with human skulls and organs.
WR: How did you come across the curiosity to even do all of this?
CB: My uncle got me into this shit to be honest with you. He gave me the Day Of The Dead movie when I was nine years old. I would always see stuff as a kid and wanted it. I would see cemeteries on TV or go to funerals and be like, “Damn. These things are cool. I wish I can have one (tombstones and coffins) at home.” But it was forbidden to have a tombstone at your house. It is not a fucking toy!
WR: Actually, that would be sick. Like, you could have a tombstone as a bed frame! But I feel you…
CB: Yeah! But it isn’t a toy, a plaything. I always thought they were cool. Then, when I was older, I was able to obtain them. Or I would start traveling and I would see them. Fuck… Now, I can actually get them! And also things I’d see in magazines. Like, in old French magazines, or old medical journals.
WR: Is there anyone that has inspired you or has given you knowledge to expand your creativity?
CB: Charles Beauchêne. He was the dude to make the first exploding skull. He was the first person that thought, “This skull has twenty-two individual parts. They’re all connected. What if I took them apart and separate them and put them on pins so you can see it exploded and you can look inside?” And he was the first person to do it. So now, they are called, Beauchêne skulls.
WR: What was the first project you recall doing and with what anatomy?
CB: I did a bunch of them but I always sold them. But I do remember the first exploding skull that I did. That shit was fun. I know exactly who I sold it to and I always want to buy it back. It was my first Beauchêne skull I ever did and I always wanted one but they were so expensive as a kid. I bought a skull and I took it apart myself. It took me a long time to take it apart, and around that time, I had started going to school to be a mortician. So I would learn all this shit at school and just started taking shit apart.
Catalyst Butcher can custom create something to suit your ideas. Or you can simply consider choosing out of his own already made art collection of artifacts. But the real question is: How does he manage to get his hands on all these dead humans and animals? We will keep that to a mystery…
Catalyst Butcher may be contacted at: Thebutcherfineart@gmail.com