For years artists have pushed the boundaries of provocative imagery and what was once considered offensive or pornographic is now considered mainstream. But Australian painter, Mitch Gobel and his girlfriend, artist/model/photojournalist, Sally Mustang, have been breaking even today’s evocative boundaries and “breaking the internet” with an erotic photo series they’ve been posting on Instagram. Of course in today’s image obsessed society, it’s easy to understand how a picture perfect couple embraced in the beautiful backdrops of their beach bohemian lifestyle would draw an immediate fan base. But it’s their shared view of art as a form of sexual expression and their more explicit posts encouraging others to do the same, that has elevated the couple into the spotlight of social media controversy.
Examiner had the exclusive opportunity to meet the provocative power couple and found out more about the artists behind the photos, and their plans to write a completely uncensored book about their real life relationship.
Jana Ritter: Before becoming a social media celebrity couple, you both established successful artistic careers of your own. Can you each tell us about your work?
Mitch Gobel: I’m a painter that has become known largely for working with resin, which initially is like a liquid glass. It starts out transparent and I mix different color pigments and materials into it to create the designs you see. I also hand pick the timber and build each frame and basically put all of my work together from scratch. But the physical appearance aside, I also use my art as a voice to talk about my life, including environmental issues and conservation efforts that I’m very passionate about. Thanks to the support of my audiences and the success of my art, I’ve been able to donate just over $43,000 to a variety of different conservation efforts and I’m very happy that my work allows me to do those kinds of things for the greater good.
Sally Mustang: I’m also an artist but I’m more known for my work as a model and photo journalist/blogger. Both are really authentic to who I am and I believe that is why so many people connect with my photos. In the past, I was often turned down for modeling jobs with traditional companies and brands, and now I’ve learned how to consider it a compliment that I have my own branding and look, which appeal to a lot of independent labels in clothing, swimwear, surf wear and jewelry. I’m extremely grateful for the success I’ve achieved by doing what I love and my ultimate goal as a social media influencer, is to teach others happiness by finding themselves and embracing the simple pleasures in life. Thanks to the extent of my audience on social media, mainly Instagram, I have the ability to reach more people with my messages.
JR: How did art initially bring you two together?
SM: I first contacted Mitch after seeing his work and being completely fascinated by it. I had some acrylic pieces that were similar styles to his resins, and I felt the instant connection. So I reached out and ask him to meet up while I was in Victoria on a hiking trip. He actually invited me over to his house to view his new work and I became even more fascinated by the man standing in front of me. He was creative, beautiful, caring, honest and had this wonderful mentality where anything was possible. The electricity between us was so apparent and mutual that we got together again a few weeks later. Then, we pretty much turned our entire worlds upside down to be together on a permanent basis.
JR: Describe your relationship and what makes you different from “regular couples.”
MG: Our relationship is…accepting. There’s no judgment or criticism and if there’s ever any sort of dispute, we both consider it as an education that only makes us stronger. We’re both very open-minded and that’s one of the reasons why we work so well together. I think what makes us different is that we both share the mentality that says anything is possible – inside our relationship. We’ve been granted this power and I believe its our good intentions and honest passion for a greater good that is providing it.
JR: What inspired you to start sharing your sexual experiences on Instagram?
SM: Our social media platforms have always been an authentic and very real representation of ourselves and our relationship. Sex has always played a huge part in who we both are, but it wasn’t until New Year’s Eve that we made a resolution together to be more open about it. So, we started journaling about a particular sexual experience we had together and that got the ball rolling. Not only did we start learning how the other felt physically and emotionally during sex, we also realized how we could inspire others to share and be more open about their own sex lives and desires. Sex is something we put a lot of value on as a couple and we strongly believe it should play a significant role in any healthy relationship.
JR: Mitch, how has the Instagram sex series influenced your art? Or was it your art that influenced those images?
MG: My art comes from the same place as those images and sex is a huge part of who I am. It’s actually been a far more significant part of my life than my art has been. I believe that every aspect of any artist’s life contributes to what they create and how they create it. Subconsciously, there is a reason behind why I create what I do, the way I do and I believe it’s all of those life experiences combined into one. I want people to see more than just some pretty colors when they look at my work. I want them to see a real story and I believe that being open about sex has helped to create that real connection for a lot of people.
JR: What is it like to become Instagram celebrities, especially as subjects of controversy?
MG: There’s a lot of deception on social media and we’re proud to be open and authentic with the people who appreciate our work and our story. We’ve had 90 percent positive feedback and a small percentage of angry backlash, which was enough to get Instagram to delete a recent graphic photo and a detailed description of the memorable experience we had just shared. We knew it definitely wasn’t PG rated, but we were quite shocked to find out it was actually deleted. Our creativity has never had limits or guidelines and it disappointed us that we were robbed of that, and it has further impacted how we write every post. Now we’re forced to censor ourselves, leaving certain descriptions and words out.
SM: It’s been a positive experience for the most part though. Occasionally we’ll be walking down the street and someone will stop us for a photo or even just to say that they appreciate our posts. Recently, we’ve been getting approached by a lot of women who have told us that they masturbate to our stories. Of course, we take it as a compliment!
JR: Now you’re going even further and writing a completely uncensored book together. Tell us about that.
MG: It’s a non-fiction, real life love story about us as two individuals and the life we’ve created together. We’ll be including very detailed, un-reserved sex scenes and we’ll have a lot more freedom than we do on social media – so its bound to shock even our fans. But we’re also going to be focusing on everything else that encompasses love such as emotionally and mentally connecting, arguing and growing together in a committed relationship.
JR: What do you hope people will learn from your book?
SM: Because the story is going to be really raw and expose every aspect of our true selves, people will immediately connect with our honesty and all the hopes, desires, conflicts, problems, etc., that we share as human beings. But we also want to encourage people to explore sex and just be more comfortable with it. Sex isn’t dirty or a secret, it’s something we all do. We hope that by us being so open about our own sex life, we’ll inspire others to be more open and creative, and explore their sexual desires and expressions.
There is also another element of the book that I hope people will learn from. Meeting Mitch has made me truly believe in “soul mates” and has given meaning to the phrase, “better together.” Together, we have become better individuals and I want to share our story to help other people find and experience the same.
Follow Sally Mustang and Mitch Gobel on Instagram to stay posted on their daily adventures and the release of their upcoming “tell all” book.
To find out more about Mitch Gobel and his artwork, go directly to his website: www.mitchgobelresinart.com
To find out more about Sally Mustang and her portfolio of art, modeling and popular journal blog, go to her official website: www.sallymustang.com