The following interview with Megan Frauenhoffer was conducted by S. A. Noecker, editor at Cowcatcher Press, in the early months of 2014.
SN: What are you working on now?
MF: I’m currently a per-course instructor for the local community colleges and state university in Springfield, Missouri. I teach mostly studio foundation courses, but I also instruct in lecture courses on art history and art appreciation.
SN: You hold a degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. How has your work changed since graduation?
MF: My work in graduate school focused more on self portraiture and personal narratives, more out of convenience than personal interest. Now that I don’t have to justify every work I make to a class or committee, the work has changed toward illustrating different narrative ideas that don’t always rely on personal stories but also stories that I might pull from the news or concoct from my own imagination.
SN: Your work has a very fluid, ethereal quality that calls to mind dreamscapes. Do you ever base work on actual dreams or memories?
MF: My work is more inspired by dreams and hazy quality that comes with trying to recollect a dream. I enjoy the fact that oftentimes dreams are visceral and are not coherent. You can pull multiple interpretations and still never quite conclude what the dream might have meant. I’m not that big of a believer on real dreams having deep symbolism and secrets to your inner psyche, but I do enjoy the notions.
SN: You’re primarily a printmaker. Why printmaking?
MF: Printmaking is very democratic form of art and accessible to the general public. I think it appeals to my middle class upbringing that I could be an art collector without going broke. I also enjoy the indirect process that comes with those various techniques and the ability to experiment with the image with almost alchemic results.
SN: Describe your process from plan to paper.
MF: There is usually a lot of sketches and thumbnails and revisions to those thumbnails before I create a pre-drawing for either a painting or a print. Since I am usually doing my studio work between teaching, there is often long periods of inactivity with the pieces, but I review the work and think about their progress and make small changes during those time periods. Then, if I’m luck and work calms down enough for me to have a weekend, I work on the art during that time.
SN: What dead artists do you take inspiration from?
MF: Hokusai, Kollwitz, Munch. I love all their printed work for different reasons, but mostly in how they inspire my content and thinking of the print mark.
SN: What living artists are you always excited to see new work from?
MF: I always love Yoshitaka Amano’s work since I was little. Growing up, I found new love in the works of James Jean, Joao Ruas, Jillian Tamaki, and Sam Weber. They set the bar very high.
SN: You’re a teacher. How has teaching informed your work?
MF: Teaching was surprisingly informative in my approach to drawing. I developed a lot of bad habits in the last few years in my drawing and sketching and it was only when I revisited the drawing materials for teaching that I corrected myself and started making huge jumps in my drawing and composition planning. I’m also inspired to work harder because I feel obligated to improve and not be a lazy example of an artist for my students.
SN: Your works often contain an impassive woman. Is this a character? Does she have a history? To what extent is your work autobiographical?
MF: Most of the female characters play off of fairy tales archetypes that were often impassive, drawing any sort of growth or strength from within (a good example of Sleeping Beauty’s slumber and waking up as her passage into womanhood). I try to spin it more positively in the artwork, but the characters are still in a state of some sort of decision being made in response to the situation. The current work I am making, the characters are much more responsive against antagonistic forces.
SN: And, finally, what are you reading now?
MF: Currently, A Sword of Storms so I can get caught up for the next season of Game of Thrones.
Megan Frauenhoffer drew the cover art for Solomon the Peacemaker. Her address is meganfrau.com.