His Twitter bio lets us know that he likes trees and buildings from the 70s. We also know that Friedl Kreuser creates characterful illustrations, and that he’s passionate about movies. So much so, in fact, that he’s moving to New York next year to study filmmaking – something we’re really excited to see pan out.
In the meantime, read on to find out more about him.
Tell us more about yourself and your background…
Born and raised in the giant suburb of Pretoria, studied Law at Tuks, didn’t last long as an attorney. I come from a creative, but also conventional, family. My mom’s a writer and my dad’s a detailed admin guy who worked in government and mining, so I guess that combination explains my personality. These days, I am very happily married to a creative, feisty sexywoman (that’s not a typo, that’s my word).
When did you start making illustrations?
As kids, we were always drawing. Both my sisters are amazing artists. In high school I took extra-mural art classes and our teacher – Verona Higgs – was a huge influence. She taught us to draw daily, never to erase and that there were no mistakes. Looking at my illustrations today, I clearly took the last two lessons to heart. Sadly I don’t draw anywhere near daily anymore. Nothing teaches you more than simply drawing as much as possible, all the time.
You describe yourself as a “private-time creative,” which brings us to the question of what you spend the rest of your time doing?
I work at a Financial Wellbeing company in Midrand. I like what we do. I believe it adds value to society, which is nice. And I have a great boss. Dealing with over-indebted consumers has sufficiently scared me into managing my own money better, which is also helpful. I’m also part-German, so being organised is fun for me. Having a boring day job isn’t all bad, but it does mean I’m always trying to do creative stuff at night. Which means I don’t sleep enough, which is not good.
What are some of the things that influence and inspire you?
My wife. Also, I like drawing people. People are fascinating and confusing. I like drawing from pictures rather than real life – which is a little bit like cheating. I am fascinated by the idea of capturing the essence of a picture, a person or a moment. The best art, to me, captures the essence of something in a loose and inexact way. Marlene Dumas and Francesco Clemente are legends. I tend to draw the same thing over and over until I find a version that speaks to me. Sometimes it takes a while to get loose enough. Sometimes it never happens.
Does the time you spend creating feed into other areas of your life?
Well, yes. It keeps me sane. I feel like you discover yourself by creating.
You also run a movie blog, Sum Up Film. Where did your love for movies originate?
My parents were amazing. I remember watching lots of French movies as a kid. When I was 10, Le Chateau de ma Mere made a big impression on me, and I’m still in love. In High School I was obsessed with movie list-making, 50s black and white movies, 70s cult classics, Die Hard, The Fifth Element and Tank Girl. That may explain why I didn’t have many friends. Luckily my wife has very good taste in movies and a high tolerance for watching lots of them.
On that note, what are your all-time favourite films?
I don’t feel like I’ve seen enough movies yet to comment definitively, but I will say:
- My favourite filmmakers are: Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, Spike Jonze & the Coen Brothers
- The first movie I ever remember seeing is The Fox and the Hound and I still love it.
- The best movies in the world are Wall-E, Rear Window and Raging Bull.
- My favourite movies from each of the last five years are Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Blue Valentine (2010) District 9 (2009) and WALL•E (2008).
How would you describe your illustrations to someone who’s never seen them?
Others have called them quirky and sombre. I’d probably call them random and lucky.
Looking forward, are there any other creative endeavours you’d like to (or are planning to) pursue?
I’ll be studying filmmaking at New York Film Academy in 2014 / 2015, which is suuuper exciting, and currently lots of admin (not the fun kind). I feel very blessed to have a wife who’ll leave everything behind to go on a New York adventure with me.