There’s a purity to A’Muveau’s illustrations that reminds you to appreciate femininity from almost every perspective. Whether it’s sketched on a napkin or displayed in a gallery – let’s find out from A’Muveau how art can be made to speak.
The A’Muveau Interview
Hi A’Muveau! Please tell us about yourself, including where are you from and an interesting fact.
That’s always an interesting question to me. I feel like it’s easy to either say too much or not enough. So here you go…
I’m originally from Jersey. After a short stint in Kansas City, Missouri, we moved to Oberlin, OH. Then after middle school, we moved to Lorain, OH.
An interesting fact: A’Muveau (Ā-Moo-voh) is a pen name of my name and other pen name A.M.Frasier. I choose to work through a pen name because I want my artwork to be viewed and experienced without bias of who I am.
Did you know from childhood that being an artist was meant for you?
Ever since I was very young I loved to draw, create characters, and tell stories. I’ve always found great joy in the storytelling process. However, growing up, I wasn’t encouraged to follow art as a profession. Growing up in a small blue-collar town, illustration or “drawing” was considered kids stuff. The irony is I knew it was adults making my favorite cartoons and books and not “kids!”
What encouraged you to follow your passion to make art into a career?
A critical turning point for me was near the end of my senior year at The Ohio State University. I had not drawn anything my entire time in college. One of my best friends and artist named James Bowman told me that he made the decision to go to grad school in New York for animation. I remember being amazed about this.
Before that, I hadn’t heard of anyone going to school – let alone grad school! – for animation. I only knew James as a painter, so hearing about him going to study animation raised a lot of questions for me. At that time, OSU didn’t have an animation program. At least, not like one you would find at CalArt.
I remember going out and buying a sketchbook. I told myself it was time to get back to doing what I loved. I decided if I could fill the sketchbook, I would pursue illustrating further. I filled the sketchbook in less than a week.
What first attracted you to illustration?
I may have been 6 or 7 when I found a folder of my mom’s old sketches. She used to doodle occasionally. I immediately wanted to do the same.
Illustrating was very accessible; no prepping, no mess. Growing up (and still today), all I need is a pencil and some paper and I can be entertained for hours.
I’m also pretty sure a healthy dose of cartoons, anime, and comic strips in the newspaper also contributed to the allure of illustrating as well.
What materials do you find yourself using most often?
Pencil, Copic Multiliner Brush Pen, Pilot Fineliner, and my trusty Wacom Companion 2.
“My art represents a universal story speaking to the human condition.” – A’Muveau
How did you come up with the title of “TedeHaiku”? Please tell us more about the history of the concept.
Several years ago (2010), I had a comic strip called “The MeltedPOT” that was being published in one of the local papers and via web. It followed the adventures of a teddy bear named TEDeBEAR and 5 very interesting children. As work began to pick up, it led my art in a different direction. BUT, I didn’t want the spirit of the MeltedPOT to completely diminish. So, I started writing haiku from the perspective of the main character TEDe.
TEDe essentially is the “teddy bear” everyone (or someone you know) has grown up with. The haiku are his observations of people, places, and things from his many travels…thus TEDeHAIKU was born. It’s the marriage between two of my favorite art forms; haiku and illustration.
How do you mentally prepare yourself to create?
That’s a really good question. There’s a couple of things I do regularly.
1) I ALWAYS have ideas running in my head. Research stimulates creativity for me. I enjoy reading topics from various disciplines (e.g. history, the sciences, etc.)
2) Sometimes I like to simply open my sketchbook and just jump right in. I start drawing the first thing off the top of my head or something in my immediate view.
3) Rest! I enjoy getting up incredibly early (i.e. waking at 4 or 5 am) or staying up late (i.e. going to bed at 2 am).Either way, I have to know when to put the pencil down and go to sleep to have a fresh start.
4) Lastly, doing other activities, such as spending time with friends, family, and exercise. That helps me to get out of the vacuum (my own head) and get into the world around me. A good balance of those things keeps my creative juices flowing.
The women you depict are so strong and uniquely beautiful. Are their features inspired by women you see in passing, your imagination, or women that you know personally?
Often, they are a hybrid of all three! 😊 But it really depends on what it is I’m trying to say. Do I want to represent a certain ethnicity? Do I want it to be ethnically ambiguous? And more importantly, how does the character best represent what I’m saying for the picture or story? These are but a few questions I’m initially asking myself. As an artist, I’m always trying to be clear about what I’m conveying and I don’t want anything to be distracting. I also don’t want to be so “on the nose.”
Since my work consists of both illustration and text, I want them both to serve an individual purpose. The viewer gets a part of the story from the illustration, another part from the words; together they’ll get the full story. I don’t want to represent characters stereotypically (women scantily clothed, etc). That’s not the root of my characters strength or beauty. My attempt is to illustrate a moment in time. Hopefully, through that moment you get a little window into what the character is about.
You say they are “uniquely beautiful.” I really like that!
What words of advice would you give to the up and coming artists reading this right now?
Enjoy what you are creating and enjoy the process. That will be the renewable energy to get you from point A to point B and through all the difficult times. It will motivate you to keep creating. Through constantly creating, you will get better and you will find the voice that is uniquely yours. Surround yourself with people that encourage your creativity.
I’ve noticed some artists like to work on the go while others are inspired by their own personal space (such as a home office). What type of environment is most inspiring for you? Could you describe your ideal workspace for us?
I’m pretty flexible with where I like to work. I enjoy being home but I also enjoy going to the café. The hustle and bustle of people make for good references. Can you get good references from being at home on the internet? Yes…but there’s a lot of inspiration being in and working from real life.
Which artists have most influenced your style and work ethic?
There are so many artists that have influenced me up to this point. It’s difficult to pinpoint just one. I thoroughly enjoy the illustrative works of the graphic novel and animation artists from Europe and Asia. But, if I were to choose one artist I would choose Hayao Miyazaki. His work ethic is incredible! He’s produced such a large quantity of quality work over several decades. That in itself is an amazing achievement. His stories aren’t only aesthetically appealing but the depth of the storytelling is masterful.
Closer to home, I have two artist friends that influence me every day. James Bowman (painter, animator) and Todd Harris (illustrator, storyboard and story artist), both influence my work ethic. They encourage me to push further.
Treat yourself to much more of A’Muveau’s art at amfrasier.com and on Instagram @amuveau.