NEW ALBANY – Since releasing his first children’s book in 2020, New Albany author Tahj Jacobi Mullins has sold hundreds of his colorful books following the adventures of a blue moose named Azul.
Mullins, 29, is the author and illustrator of “There’s A Moose On The Loose” and “Azul Sees a Ghoul”. He is new to this career path and he was inspired by the community’s response as he connects with local residents and readers.
He self-published “There’s a Moose on the Loose” in 2020, and with no marketing behind it, he was able to sell over 600 copies, he said. “Azul Sees a Ghoul” is a Halloween-themed book that was released this year, and he’s gearing up to release a Christmas-themed book, “How Not To Be A Wicked Moose,” in time for the holiday season.
“It’s a lesson in humility – it makes me realize that the best thing in life is the ability to create and connect with other people,” he said. “It’s something I want to enjoy but don’t want to take for granted. People’s response helps me create more as a writer. “
Mullins works full time as an author, illustrator and graphic designer, and he now works with a local marketing company called Quilted Media.
Mullins, a graduate of New Albany High School, has enjoyed drawing since he was 8 and even earlier, and he pursued a variety of creative pursuits. In the past, Mullins worked as a singer-songwriter, but eventually began to focus more on his craft. He created album covers and logos for other artists.
Mullins, nicknamed “The Magician of Art,” said he always wanted to make his own book and first drew the character of Azul in 2019. He drew inspiration from such works. as the books of Dr Seuss and animation of Tim Burton.
“My favorite books are like weird animal books like ‘The Cat in the Hat’ and stuff like that, so I was like, what an animal is a little weird, and I thought of a moose,” he said. he declared. “I have always loved children’s books. I have always loved fantasy and cartoons. I guess I got to a point where it’s like, I can do it, because I’m not working on the music.
He is a digital artist who creates the illustrations using an application on his iPad. His writing is a “style of rhythmic poetry” that comes from his experience as a musician, he said.
For Mullins, fostering connections with the local community is integral to his work as an author, and he has partnered with companies such as the New Albany Sugar Shoppe to spread the word, sign books and sell copies.
He recently attended a fair for local authors at the Floyd County Library and is a member of the On-Ramp Professional Development Program for Creative Entrepreneurs, which was presented this year at the Carnegie Center for Art and History.
“I feel like the whole Azul campaign or movement – whatever name you want to give it – doesn’t take itself too seriously,” he said. “We come in where we are and we love people who love us. I grew up in New Albany, so of course I love the library and small businesses and stuff like that. Instead of contacting via email, I try to come in and support all of these places. “
Mullins said he sees Azul as an extension of himself.
“He’s a bit messy, forgetful – he doesn’t try to be rude, but he’s so on the move all the time, that he forgets to stop and think, and that’s kind of how I am, ”he said. “I have a lot of energy and Azul is kind of a manifestation of my energy as a person.”
He draws the illustrations and writes as it goes instead of plotting a story ahead of time, Mullins said. All of the books present different lessons that Azul learns through his experiences.
The books are meant to inspire people “to just have fun and be themselves,” Mullins said.
“There isn’t necessarily a message I’m trying to get to anyone or anyone’s ears – it’s just having fun, being yourself, and as long as you can help. other people and being a good person, it’s okay, ”he said. “I just want to entertain people and put something in the world that makes it a little better.”
He appreciates the feedback he has received from the community, including children who have enjoyed his books.
“My favorite is my neighbor’s child, who calls me the moose man,” Mullins said. ” That’s what I like. She’s like, ‘hey, moose man.’ It’s a cool thing.
Mullins plans to continue writing on Azul, including a future book focusing on the character’s background.
“I think next year I’m going to lean more on the world of Azul,” he said. “It will be like a new start to find out where he’s from and who his friends are instead of going wild.”
He also plans to produce a video series called “Azul’s Dance Party” with music and readings for children.
Since the release of his first two books, he has received “nothing but good answers,” Mullins said.
“It’s still weird to me, because it’s like I’ve written something that people like?” ” he said. “It’s surprising, but it was kind of the goal. Every time someone says hello to me, I read your book to my niece, nephew or son, and they really liked it – it’s something that motivates me as a creator. It was a very, very good response.
“I’ve made more connections – personal and professional – than I even just have as a singer-songwriter or anything else I’ve tried to do,” he said. “So I say to myself, this must be my calling, I’m going to stick to it.”
The relationships he formed helped him to “take him to the next level” as an artist and person and to become a “more complete businessman”.
“I guess the best tool you can have as a business person is to connect with people, and that’s what that has helped me do,” Mullins said.
Mullins’ books can be found at local businesses such as the New Albany Sugar Shoppe, and they can sometimes be found at the Mickey Bookstore and the New Albany Farmer’s Market. They are also available on his online store, which can be found on the “There’s A Moose On The Loose” Facebook page.