It was while working in a Perth-based design and fashion boutique called Pigeonhole that Andrew Frazer realised his artistic talents could be worth sharing. With some gentle encouragement, credited to his parents, Frazer pushed forward into his chosen creative fields of illustration, hand lettering and design.
Frazer grew up in Bunbury, Western Australia but spent most of his adult life in Perth and, after travelling, eventually chose to settle in Canada with his wife who he says is his “biggest inspiration”. After studying art both during and after High School Frazer chose to enrol in the school of life and base his creations on experience stating, “I have found that working with other artists has been my best source of education… I can easily recognise the benefit of studying in a formal context, but it is not the only way.”
A large part of Frazer’s designs, and business overall, is typography – a combination of language and aesthetic he thoroughly enjoys, “We have the ability to communicate and share ideas through the written word and this truth has captivated my creativity in a way that I am still unpacking. I am continually amazed how just the subtle movement of type details can communicate so many emotions and images within our imagination whether we realise this reality on a conscious [or] sub-conscious level – it is amazing.”
Of the inspiration behind his pieces and the messages they convey Frazer says, “I love story – telling and welcoming the viewer to participate rather than simply being a spectator. It is this participation that inspires the next piece and the next and the next.”
When it comes to influence, the sister of inspiration, Frazer emphasises keeping the spectrum broad, “If your funnel of influence is wide then you will inevitably give unique expression. The danger of repetition and reproduction comes through a very narrow funnel.”
Frazer looks throughout the worlds of both design and the physical world for ideas, finding strokes of inspiration everywhere including in the historical architecture of his Ontario neighbourhood as well as countries such as the Middle East and South East Asia; the stories he has heard have humbled him greatly.
“I had the privilege of traveling to Thailand a number of years back working with a small team of photographers documenting the destructive reality of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual slavery and sharing the stories of those who are committed to erasing this demonic act from our planet. I sat with girls as young as 5 who have been rescued and who were slowly walking through a path of restoration and I asked the leader of the safe home what makes the biggest difference in these girls’ lives when they come to this home, and she simply said ‘grace’. At the end of the day I want my art to be vessels of grace.”
Frazer gives an imaginative childhood a large part of the credit when it comes to the whimsical characters depicted in his art, “For me the thought of conversing animals holds a special place in my heart from childhood, and in many ways it is these memories that continually cause me to draw another fox or owl or narwhal. Perhaps it was all those play times with my older brother with our battle beasts that sparked my imagination. Perhaps it was all the story books that Mum use to read to me that involved animals speaking, but whatever it was it has stuck with me and I love the imagination that is required to bring them to life. Every piece has a story, otherwise I wouldn’t have created it in the first place but what my intention was may not be how you interpret the piece and that’s the way I like my work to read. Welcome to the conversation.”
When it comes to the technical process of creating Frazer begins with messy sketches, getting the bones of the idea onto paper before perfecting it, of his process he says: ‘It challenges my perfectionist mentality in a good way because it is usually just a mess of thoughts scribbled over paper, but the process is beautiful….This is all in the context of translating the hand drawn to a digital format, but if the project is creating a custom original then quite often I like to leave the process subtly showing in the final to show & share the story.’
Along with Frazer’s regular illustrations he has designed several tattoos, ‘it’s a very surreal and humbling thought that someone would want my art inked on their skin for the rest of their life, but in the same breath – I love it.’ Although he does warn, ‘a good design is only as good as the tattoo artist you find to ink it on to your skin.’
Andrew Frazer currently lives in Ontario Canada with his wife Drea where they experience temperatures below -15 degrees Celsius, and despite loving the Canadian lifestyle, plans to move back to Western Australia later this year. Fans of Frazer’s work can look forward to viewing his upcoming work which includes commissioned hand-lettered wedding invitations and future collaborations with other creative-types, or find him online at his official website below.