Jeremy Schott is likely one of the youngest renaissance men you could ever meet. He’s produced major motion pictures alongside Charlie Sheen. He’s directed professional wrestling from Hollywood. He’s the bass player in several very popular Orange County bands. And he also happens to be proprietor of The Dark Art Emporium in Long Beach, California.
With all those accolades and accomplishments already under his belt, what made opening The Dark Art Emporium such a curious, yet logical next step for Jeremy?
“I was touring with heavy metal bands,” his story begins.
“I was the videographer, documentarian, light, music, video director – all that stuff. And when we were on tour, we would stop some places where there was a museum, a weird oddities shop or something bizarre that you could go see whether you were in Russia or even in Alabama.”
“One day we were sitting on the bus and the lead singer [of Suicide Silence] Eddie turns to me and he’s like, ‘You know Jeremy, you really like art. Whether it’s music or painting or you video. You know you just really just enjoy art.’ We were on tour with Korn when he said that. And it was during that trip I kind of realized that I wasn’t inspired anymore. I didn’t care. When I was holding that camera I didn’t really it anymore.”
“It was just the same thing over and over again. So I got back home and I had a corporate gig I was working a laundry conference. I didn’t even know there were laundry conferences. And what goes on in a laundry conference, I don’t’ know. They pay me stupid money to put a camera on a tripod and hit record. That’s pretty much what happens.”
Jeremy doesn’t stop there. “I’m sitting there with my ten thousand dollar camera rig in a suit and was just like – I’m done. And started looking into what it what it entailed to open an art gallery and give artists a space to show their stuff. And within probably six months from that corporate gig, I had an art gallery.”
Sounds easy, right? But Jeremy did ask for, and receive, plenty of good advice early on. “I talked to Bill [Schafer] who owns Hyaena Gallery in Burbank we became buddies. I just kind of mentioned to them, ‘Hey, I want to do what you’re doing.’ And he said, ‘don’t’. It’s a lot of hard work for no pay. ButI was going to do it anyway. So he’s been a mentor to me.”
But with a history and resume rife with film and video credit, why a gallery? Jeremy was at no loss for words when it came to why.
“When I did do movies and television and that sort of thing, the people you encounter working in that industry are scummy. Everybody’s got their hands out and nobody’s really doing anything. Everybody is trying to justify their job even though they’re really not important. Agents and all those people are on the fringe.”
“Like with She Wants Me, a movie I made. We had two producers that the only reason they were producers was because they managed one of the actors that we wanted to get.”
Jeremy continues, “They never produced a movie before and they didn’t know what the hell they were doing. It worked out. We got the actor and everything. But we ended up spending way more money just paying them just to pacify a situation. To make a situation happen.”
“If I ever do movies again, which I plan to, or television or something like that eventually – I’m gonna work with my friends. Just because you have credits I’m not going to hire you. Because you don’t care.”
“In the art world, I’m finding artists that care about their craft and they know it’s not about the dollar bill really. I mean the dollar bill helps. But the real reason they do it is because they have to. They have a story they need to tell.”
“And I’d like to help them tell it. And that has been a big part of The Dark Art Emporium – being able to work with friends. These are people you know an artist you appreciate. And these are your friends.
But what was it like getting started?
“I was never in the art world per se,” Jeremy admits. “I went to art shows occasionally but didn’t talk to anybody. Nobody knew who I was. But I began reaching out to some of my favorite artists. And they become best friends. Because especially in the dark art world, where work is often lowbrow, there’s not a lot of galleries that show their kind of work.”
But what exactly is “dark art”?
Jeremy explains, “We specialize in dark art. Lowbrow art and that sort of thing. You’re not going to come in here and see a landscape of a beach. We don’t sell Thomas Kincaide. It’s a variety of things. A lot of dark art comes from the tattoo culture. A lot of skulls and demons and that sort of thing.
So what does that make a typical exhibit at The Dark Art Emporium in Long Beach, California look like then?
“Last November we did a show called Requiem: The Art of Mourning. And we transformed the gallery into a funeral parlor. All the artists painted really cool, really personal art pieces because it was all about mourning. And that was a really powerful. We had a coffin, candles, flowers – all dead flowers because we had to make it a little dark. But that show was really powerful too because we had a food truck out front. And the day before our show, the lady who operated it legitimately passed away. So we were actually mourning during our morning show. It was pretty powerful.”
A real community has sprung up around Jeremy’s gallery.
“We’re probably 75 percent art gallery and about 25 percent store. We’re the one place in Long Beach where you can buy a real human skull.” Let that sink in.
“We sell occult books and taxidermy. So one of my taxidermists started giving classes here where you can learn how to taxidermy your own animal. For a fee you come in, you show up and there’s a dead animal in front of you. And you learn from start to finish how to taxidermy your own animal.”
“We offer figure drawing classes for artists that usually have a little twist. A normal figure drawing class would just be a nude model posing in different positions for you for an hour or two and everybody draws them. But we try to have fun with it. We’ve done bondage or painted the model up as a monster. That sort of thing.”
Look through The Dark Art Emporium’s online inventory and you’ll find some incredible things available for purchase. Like a frog skeleton.
But according to Jeremy, the website only scratches the surface. “We have a lot of things that aren’t even on the website. Just because I don’t want to deal with shipping specimens and stuff like that.”
“I mean there are certain laws you run into with certain states that I can’t ship human remains to,” Jeremy says with a tinge of regret.
“Because there’s demand for human remains. Oddly I can’t ship a human skull to New York City. There’s four or five different states that don’t allow the importing of human remains. But a framed horseshoe bat?. Oh yeah that’s not a problem at all. I’ll ship that to you today.”
What’s the strangest item Jeremy’s ever either pursued or that somebody has tried to sell him?.
“We had a a road kill raccoon in about a thousand dollars worth of resin that was pretty disgusting. Right now I have a Dayak skull which is a trophy from Borneo. It’s a real human skull that’s been painted and carved and then binded around the mouth. The Dayak tribe in Borneo would head hunt and use these like a trophies.
But how does one advertise a “dark art gallery”?
“I advertise in the local local papers. Send out press releases. Hope for articles about what we are what we’re doing here. I also advertise in two major international art magazines, High Fructose and then Beautiful Bizarre -which is actually located in Australia. I’m one of the few dark art galleries that advertises in the fine art magazines. It gets the word out. I’ve gotten a lot of customers from different states and overseas even because of those ads. As far as locally, like for the road side shows out on the street or at a local bar, you just try to get the word out as much as possible. Do fundraisers at the cemetery. So I’ll take my booth there and get the word out.”
We’ve mentioned a real dark art community that has built up around Jeremy’s gallery. But what do his neighbors think?
“The neighborhood loves me!” Jeremy boasts a bit. “Because we’re always doing something fun and different.”
“Being in Long Beach, I’m fighting uphill battle. Even though I’m in Los Angeles, I’m still in Long Beach. And people in L.A. treat this place like as a third world when actually it’s a 30 minute drive. So my goal like locally is to get the people from Los Angeles to come see what we’re doing here. Because what we’re doing here is completely different than any place else locally.”
“I started the place because I knew there were other like minded people like me in the area that didn’t want to make that hour and a half drive to to Burbank or Santa Monica in order to see this kind of art. It’s Sunday and you need a human skull – but you don’t want to drive all the way to Burbank to get one.
“It’s a rough business,” admits Jeremy. “But it’s a lot of fun. I mean, you don’t open up a dark art gallery in order to be a millionaire. You do it because you love it and that’s really where I’m coming from.”
“And we’ve grown so much in just the last two years. Within six months, I was in a new space that was twice as big. And next year l’’ve got some artists coming in that are just next level people that could go to any gallery they want. but they come in here and I’m lucky for that. I think part of it is because I’m an art gallery that’s honest. I pay the artists when they sell their work. I treat them with respect because without the artist I’m just four blank walls.”
Jeremy adhere’s to one main principal: “Art’s for everybody.”
“I would see stuff like that comes from the fine art, highbrow world of art. It drives me crazy as a collector. Or I go to a website where I’m really curious about the artist and I would love a piece by them, but I have no clue where the prices are. I want to be transparent.”
“I do have five thousand six thousand dollar pieces her. But you can also walk into the store right now and buy an original piece of art for 60 dollars. I’m looking at it right now. It comes from Russia. It probably cost them 60 bucks to ship it here. The art world tries to be so pretentious and highbrow. Sometimes there’s a place for that. But it’s not here.”
“Art for everybody,” Jeremy repeats. ‘I have grandmothers come in here that love this place. Children love this place because you’re always going to see something new and different that nobody else in Orange County or Long Beach is showing.”
But for Jeremy, it’s also all about embrace the Long Beach area’s rich art culture and history.
“Four blocks from here was The Pike. Which used to be like a New Jersey boardwalk with carney games and freak shows. Back in the 20s and 30s like this was the place where Hollywood vacation. This was a really cool spot.”
He goes on to say, “Now it’s a mall. Back in the day it was like a Coney Island almost. Freak shows and strong men. Long Beach has the oldest tattoo parlor on the West Coast. because all the sailors would come in from here.
It has such a history with the carny barker. That’s kind of why I went with it as our logo. I want art to be fun. Give me a dime and I’ll show you the world. Come on in.”
Visit darkartemporium.com to see what kind of events Jeremy and company has coming up. Or treat yourself to a true piece of one of a kind dark art.