Advised it would need “blood, sweat and tears" to make it in the music industry, an aspiring rockstar has taken the advice literally – strumming up funds and notoriety by painting portraits using his own blood.
As the front man of West Midlands band The Adjusted, artist Adam Juste, 31, of Walsall, hopes his grizzly gallery of work will catch the eye of music heavyweights if he manages to sell his paintings online.
Adam, who admits this is a massive departure from his usual work, which involves painting portraits in oil paint and selling them on for around £200, said: “The Adjusted is still a relatively unknown band, as we've only recorded one song – Idiocracy – so far. We've got lots of new songs to record, though, so we need to finance that."
He added: “I wanted to do something unusual that'll get the band noticed. I think painting in my own blood shows how physically important this band is to me. I'm literally bleeding for my art."
For his first blood portrait, Adam – the lead singer and songwriter for the five-piece band that includes, guitarist, bass player, keyboard player and drummer – painted David Bowie.
“I chose to paint Bowie because he was brilliant and I wanted to do a portrait of someone instantly recognisable, iconic and great. I'm hoping to get around £1,000 for it," he said.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE Adam Juste's blood portrait of David Bowie (Collect/PA Real Life)
“I reckon people who think about life differently, and are a bit alternative, would be interested in buying the portrait," Adam added.
Describing himself as a lazy vegetarian because he recently relapsed and ate meat, he is unfazed by the idea of using his own blood to paint, but has made sure he does it safely.
Adam – who takes musical inspiration from rockers Led Zeppelin and The Black Keys – explained: “I've got a friend who's an ex-nurse, and she's got the attitude that if I'm going to paint portraits in my own blood then I might as well do it safely."
I reckon people who think about life differently, and are a bit alternative, would be interested in buying the portrait
He continued: “She came to my house and used a syringe to take about 300ml of blood from my left arm. So far, I've not experienced any negative side effects!"
Adam, a self-taught artist, then painted his portrait using blood and water.
Working in the conservatory of his home in Wythall, which he has converted into an art studio, predictably, Adam listens to rock music while he paints.
Adam Juste (Collect/PA Real Life)
He said: “I use an easel, paint brushes and an artist's palette and I mix the blood with water to create different shades of red.
“When I was painting Bowie, I spoke out loud in his accent, to really get into the mind-frame of painting him."
While his first 'blood portrait' took just three hours to complete, Adam – who aspires to be as successful commanding an audience as Mick Jagger – always makes sure his artwork is perfect.
When I was painting Bowie, I spoke out loud in his accent, to really get into the mind-frame of painting him
“Art is something I've always had a talent for. I've always been obsessed with drawing," he said. “I draw anything and everything. I started off drawing pictures from comic books when I was just a toddler."
Now Adam – who formed The Adjusted a year ago after a schoolmate, now the band's keyboardist, introduced him to the other three musicians – hopes he can continue to create his blood-spattered pieces of art.
“If the demand is there, I'd like to do two portraits every week. I'd want people to send in pictures of themselves so I can paint personalised blood portraits. I suppose I'm limited by how much spare blood I have, but I'll keep going until I run out," he said.
Adam Juste painting (Collect/PA Real Life)
“Maybe one day I could paint in blood in front of an audience and make it part of the performance."
Despite his enthusiasm for creating a grizzly art gallery, he says other members of The Adjusted are less keen on the idea.
“My bandmates think I'm crackers," he said. “One told me I was daft, one rolled his eyes, and another was just like, 'What is he up to now'.
We've not performed a live gig yet, but if we do, I think they'd perform with masks on
“But while they are brilliant musicians and they help with writing the songs and recording the music, they want to remain anonymous for now.
Still, Adam insists his fellow musicians' stage fright will not hold them back, as they have already racked up almost 10,000 YouTube views for their debut song, Idiocracy.
“The Idiocracy lyrics are all about how the lunatics have taken over. We want to play social commentary songs about what's happening in the world around us," he said.
Adam Juste painting (Collect/PA Real Life)
“None of the band were featured in the music video. The video was just me running around Walsall in a Donald Trump mask," he added.
“That was a bit dangerous because Trump is such a divisive person. There were some people scowling at me and other people stopped me and asked for a picture."
In stark contrast, he plans his second music video to be about a love story.
When I write songs, I just pick up the guitar and let it guide me
“I've not decided all the lyrics yet, but it'll be a dark love story," he said. “When I write songs, I just pick up the guitar and let it guide me. "
Adam, who is currently single, is now determined that, with the help of his blood portraits, his band will hit the big time.
“In five years I hope we're still creating new stuff and getting paid for it," he said.
I'd love it if we could perform on an American chat show
“Hopefully, by then, we will have been approached by someone important in the music industry," Adam concluded.
“I'd love it if we could perform on an American chat show like The Late Late Show. And obviously it would be a dream to perform at Glastonbury.
“But, of course, I will have to persuade my band members to identify themselves first!"