This is my first of hopefully many posts introducing artists. Today’s feature is an emerging artist, Anastassia Fulmer, who will be entering her senior year at UofM this fall. Earlier this year Brian and I went to the Ann Arbor Art Center’s 30×30 show. The premise of this show is to supply artists with materials to make 30 pieces in 30 days. Together, the artists and Art Center raise funds to send kids to art camp (Art for Kids Scholarship Fund).
There was a lot of great work at this show. Because my fascination with woodblock prints, it’s not surprising to hear I approached one of the artists selling her prints. I got to chatting with Anastasia, and asked if she was interested artist feature.
I sent her some Q&A but we also got together for an evening (and crash course for me) about woodblock printing. Due to its length, I’m breaking up this feature into two separate posts. So stay tuned for a look at her process! Here’s what Anastassia had to say (along with lots of examples of her work)…
Where are you from? How does your location/birthplace inform your work?
I was born in Albany, NY but moved when I was a year and a half old to Fiji. We lived there for 6 years where I became a participant in a culture that has strong values in the arts. The motifs in the work of Fijians will sometimes find its way into my current work but growing up in a setting such as Fiji helped to deepen my roots in the visual arts as well as open me up to a variety of cultures. I do also find a similar aesthetic will find its way in my work and I believe my love of woodcut is because it has a similar quality and look to how tapa cloth looks (like this piece below- click photo to enlarge);Since then my family and I have resided in Grand Blanc, Michigan but because of college I stay in Ann Arbor full-time nowadays. My family plays a strong role in me becoming an artist. My mother is a graphic designer as well as professor of graphic design and my father is a wood artist. I also have my grandmother who is a singer, jeweler, and painter as well as my grandfather who is a musician as well as did jewelry with my grandmother.
What is your educational and/or artistic background?
I’m heading into my senior year at University of Michigan Ann Arbor where I’m finishing a Bachelors of Fine Arts. I always knew I would be an artist. Whenever I had the chance I would take art classes. In high school art was my priority. because my high school had a limited program, I took classes at Mott Community College to gain college credit before starting college. I’ve taken classes from textiles to ceramics but found a niche in book arts, printmaking, and illustration.
Illustration has been a focus of mine for a long time. It became a driving force when I bought one of my first comics, Spawn. After trying to copy Todd McFarlane’s Spawn and showing interest in drawing comics I took the opportunity to do a short study program at Interlochen for narrative art. My parents always encouraged outside classes and advanced training to give me a head start.
I’m a big fan of ink and paper, especially handmade Japanese papers. In printmaking it’s all about that feel of rolling a brayer across a block you’ve been carving for days and the excitement of finding out what the image looks like. In illustration it’s that Higgins ink pulling an image out of the white paper. In general, for all my favorite mediums good paper is a backbone. Whether it is to build a simple journal or print a four-block woodcut, good paper makes all the difference.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies are my art and finding out new ways to expand on my craft. Currently I’m working on trying to screen-print on fabric, maybe make some cool scarves! I do however have a day job; besides being a student I work at the University of Michigan Museum of Art store where I’ve learned a lot about how to be an artist and what it takes to have a marketable product.
What inspires you to create?
The world around me really inspires me which sounds cliché but it’s true.
Sometimes I’ll take my camera with me on a nice day and take pictures of architecture or nature. I draw from my photos and reference them for my work. Springtime in Ann Arbor is my favorite time to photograph with all the flowers blooming. I like to draw inspiration from animals as well. I’ve always had pets and I almost feel as if I do living on North Campus. Deer, raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits are my neighbors. Sometimes I see the occasional duck couple or a ground hog here or there. These little critters inspire the characters I place in my work.Do you sell on-line or in brick and motor stores (if so where can we find you)? How did your business get its name?
and note cards… …but currently my site it is quite bare. I had great success at my first art show, so I plan sell at the Ann Arbor Art Center. It will take some time for me to build an inventory. Etsy gives me the flexibility not to have a full stock.
I will get my first taste of selling at an art fair this summer when I partner up with my dad, a woodworker, and sell my paper goods in his booth at the Grand Blanc Art Fair.
I use the name of A. Fulmer Artistry to keep it simple and to directly connect my name with my artwork and paper goods. I hope to build a good foundation this summer for selling my work so that it will be easy to continue through the school year.
Is there a funny/touching/sad story behind one/all of your items?
There are many stories but a recent piece (the Blue Bomber) comes to mind. I made this piece for the Ann Arbor Art Center’s 30×30 Project. It featured a small blue bird soaring through the sky wearing an aviator helmet and goggles while carrying a banner that said “The Blue Bomber.”
I started working on this character in the winter for a short one-page comic but it hasn’t fully come to fruition. It’s based on my boyfriend’s bird, Frankie, who is a small dilute blue parrotlet. We joke that he thinks he’s larger than life and his personality frames him as a curious and daring little bird. So then came in his nickname of “The Blue Bomber”. From there I couldn’t help but to start a story line for him. I hope someday it will be a great short story or comic strip.
Another recent story involves the movie “The Five Year Engagement” being filmed in Ann Arbor. When the crew came to town everyone was excited. When I received an email from Amy Farnum, the Ann Arbor Art Center gallery store manager, I was among those ecstatic fans. She informed me that the crew chose two of my prints to use in the filming.
My first taste at fame! It will probably be seconds, if any, of my pieces showing up in the background. I can’t wait to see trailers and clips. I feel like I’m living the dream and I already have a group of friends ready to see the movie as soon as it comes out. It helps that I love Jason Segel and the other actors in the movie.
What makes you different from the other people that make what you make?
I can only speak for myself but I strive to make myself a better artist everyday. I work to make sure I’m doing something different than the artwork I encounter. I make all my own imagery in my books, including photos. I combine imagery in a way that shows traditional technique but unique styling. My style changes often because my surroundings and knowledge change. The best way I can describe my technique and work is ‘adaptable’. This means I learn from my mistakes but also that I try new techniques and try to adapt techniques to fit my style.
What is your process like? How long does it take? What is the most difficult step in the procedure?
I am a bit of a perfectionist and I challenge myself everyday. I work fast but it takes me a while to accept if something is finished or needs more work. The prepping for printmaking as well as bookmaking is long and tedious. …and all unfolded…When you’ve been working on a project for so long it’s hard to figure out when it is finished. With certain pieces, I feel like I don’t ever finish. When I reach points like that it’s best to just set that piece aside for a while and take a look at it with fresh eyes later.
What else should we know about you and/or your art?
My art is where I let out some of my strangest and weirdest ideas. My work at times reflects my personality directly, but usually it’s a reflection of fleeting oddball ideas that most forget about and don’t take time to reflect upon.
If I don’t let them out they begin to fester. So the best outlet for me is usually some wacky image. Because art is something I do on a daily basis it gives me a chance to learn how to harness those ideas and make something that is relatable.
I have a long list of artists that I adore but a couple of my favorite artists include Ben Templesmith and Ralph Steadman. Templesmith is a current comic book artist who is well known for his comic “30 Days of Night” and for some reason I find his work very appealing. A lot of it is very dark but his style of layering is something I’ve always wanted to explore and maybe someday evoke in my work. Ralph Steadman is a hoot! He is most well known for his partnership with journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson and for his crazy illustration of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” His interpretations of stories are wild and are quite twisted but there’s something a little funny about them. His work really inspires me to take conventional ways of problem solving and throwing them on their heads. Plus his style of drawing blows my mind!