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Frequently Asked Questions

Virtual Interview with New Orleans artist MOUSIE

Got a question? E-mail mousie@mousie.com

Virtual Interview Person- How long have you been an artist?
MOUSIE- "Professionally, for thirty-something years, but in my dreams, since I was three."


V.I.P.- Did you have to go to school to learn how to do this?
M.- "I took courses from University of Texas Instructors at Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin, Texas, when I was a teenager, and attended the Dallas Art Institute for a short time as a young adult, but to be quite honest my education came from the School of Hard Knocks. I spent beaucoup years as a member of the Art Community on Jackson Square in New Orleans, also occasionally spending time as a courtroom illustrator for local t.v. stations across Louisiana and also for CNN... and I traveled the country in a covered wagon for a couple of years, making my way from town to town by drawing portraits and caricatures.  Also singing, but THAT, Best Beloved, is another story altogether."

V.I.P.- I have a caricature from Six Flags Over Texas that is signed MOUSIE. Is that you?
M.- "Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that Summer of 1974, drawing caricatures at "The Flags." That came right before The Dallas Art Institute."

V.I.P.- Where are you from?
M.- "I was born in Austin, Texas, but I grew up in Southwestern Louisiana, maintaining strong connections with Austin. I've lived in New Orleans since 1977, which makes me a newcomer here."

V.I.P.- Is that your real name?
M.- "Yes. My parents named me Mousie because my big sister's name is Kitty."

V.I.P.- What's your middle name?
M.- "Mousie. You see, they named me Mousie Mousie, but I don't use my middle name much."

V.I.P.- Are you the same Mousie that used to work on motorcycles in New Orleans in the sixties?
M.- "No."

V.I.P.- What do you call this kind of art?
M.- "Hmmm...I wonder why people always ask that? Well, I'm obviously influenced by the great Art Nouveau movement at the turn of the last century. (Mucha, considered the Father of Art Nouveau, refused to use the term. 'Art is eternal, it cannot be new' he protested.) I call my art the 'Art Nouveau for the New Millennium' , or 'Art Nounew.' "

V.I.P.- What other artists have influenced you, besides Mucha?
M.- "When I was a teenager, a friend named C. W. Wilson, 'Exwire', gave my family a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that was illustrated by Eugene Karlin. The lyricism and economy of line as it flowed from his pen struck my heart, and left a lifetime impression. Another of my favorites is Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) who produced a wealth of very magical illustrations."

V.I.P.- This work reminds me of the illustrations in the Oz Books.
M.- "Wow! Steve, I consider that quite a compliment! John R. Neill's Oz illustrations were another very strong influence in my life! When I was a child I spent many a happy Saturday morning pouring over every graceful line! Thank you for comparing my work to his!"

V.I.P.- Why does my 1999 Mardi Gras poster have '98 after your signature?
M.- "I do the artwork for my Mardi Gras poster long before the actual Mardi Gras that it commemorates. I usually finish the drawing in August or September of the fall before the Mardi Gras for which I'm doing the poster, and when I sign it I add the year that I finished it after my signature. Then it goes through pre-press for all the negatives to be made, is printed in October, and marketed to the retail shops in November. The process is too complicated and time consuming to be done after the New Year, and the demands of marketing are such that the poster has to be ready for distribution in the fall. This confuses a lot of people, though, and I am considering not dating my originals until after the negatives have been made for printing."

V.I.P.- Where do you get your inspiration?
M.- "It all comes down to people, really. From the time I was a toddler, there were certain pieces of art that filled me with the most incredible feeling. I don't know what to call it (it feels like being gently inflated like a floating toy balloon) but I've always known that my dream was to be able to produce art that would let other people feel that way. There's a beauty and a grace and magic to life that I hope people feel when they view my work. That's the goal that inspires me.

The Mardi Gras series is specifically inspired by the desire to show the world the exquisite beauty and meaning of the Mardi Gras- the Magic, the Mystery, the Pageantry. It is so much more than what a lot of people think it is.

I find, looking back over the years that I have been publishing, that I am inspired more and more by the people who buy my work. In the 1870's, Degas, on seeing a portrait by Mary Cassatt, supposedly said, 'It is true. There is someone who feels as I do.' This emotion has been a recurring theme in the mail I receive from my collectors, and it both inspires and humbles me. With each new design that I approach, I feel a responsibility to take special care with the 'feel' that I present, and to try to form that wonderful connection. I want the viewer to think, 'It is true. There is someone who feels as I do.' "

V.I.P.- Are you influenced by Gustave Klimt's work at all?
M.- "Cori, I am as amazed as you are by Klimt's spiritually emotional and visually giddy work, but I had not consciously thought of being influenced by him before you mentioned it. Of course it's true, though, that any artist whose work moves me deeply has had an influence on my own!"

V.I.P.- Do you have a special person in mind when you do your posters or are they just people you create as you work?- Zina and Marie
M.- "I usually look through fashion mags and tear out pictures of gorgeous models that are positioned approximately the way I am envisioning a drawing. Then I create a composite, using maybe the curve of a cheekbone here, and the position of a shoulder there, and I make up all the rest. I try to keep the features simple and understated enough for any guy to imagine that it looks kind of like his girlfriend, and for many a girl to imagine that it looks a bit like her, or at least like how she feels right now!" I would love to use live models, but it is not practical for the way I work, which is in little pieces at a time, over a very long period of time, which allows for a  lot of meditation so that I can understand what the next thing is that the piece wants me to do.
I don't pretend to be in complete control of my work, and have felt for some time that I am only a vehicle through which the work manifests itself. These images are expressions of the laughter of god, and though the images will someday be dust, still god's laughter was, and having been, is.

V.I.P.- Do you do anything else, or do you just do this?
M.- "I'm a frustrated schoolmarm. I really always wanted to be an English teacher, but my father freaked and told me that only the BEST English teachers can even make a LIVING. He said if I would first become an artist so that I would have something to fall back on, then he would be willing to send me to English teacher school. At least, I THINK it went something like that. It was a very long time ago, and it's hard to remember. Anyway, I have derived great pleasure from teaching phonics to my precious stepson, who was unable to get the hang of school before being handed those simple tools. I taught him with handmade index card flash cards, just the way my Great Aunt Em taught me so long ago. Bye-bye Ritalin!
   I'm also a long devoted amateur ballet dancer, an occasionally avid home gardener, and a singer/songwriter."

                              This page last updated 22 August, MMVII

Most of this FAQ was written before Hurricane Katrina. I try to keep my most frequently asked questions answered. If you have a question I've not covered here, e-mail me at mousie@mousie.com.

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