Armenian American cartoonist produces “Shades of Armenian” art series

Basturma is red. Lake Sevan is blue. What do these colors evoke in you?

The Armenian way of life is undoubtedly vibrant and resonates with many Diasporans in a variety of ways. Storyteller and cartoonist Anoush Froundjian, for her part, is drawn to these colors on a deeper and often comical level.

Shades of Armenian purple (Photo: Anoush Talks)

Her recent work, titled “Shades of Armenian,” features palettes of a rainbow of shades, each representing a common aspect of Armenian culture. In her “Shades of Armenian purples,” for instance, a bright magenta represents the eyeshadow of an Armenian aunt, while a deep plum is reminiscent of church coffee. In the yellow palette, a gold speckled box is labeled “jewelry worn all at once.” A tan box next to it is a “dumbek cover.”  

“You got it!” says one commenter. “Perfect!” says another.

Froundjian says the idea for the art series came from an honest place and that she didn’t expect so many people in the community to connect with them.

“You want people to feel a connection, so if I’ve done that, I’ve done it,” she said during a recent interview with the Armenian Weekly. 

Froundjian grew up in New York where she attended Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School. She later studied screenwriting at Purchase College, SUNY. Her father immigrated to the US from Lebanon, while her mother was born in New York. 

Anoush Froundjian

Although Froundjian’s artwork and storytelling doesn’t solely target an Armenian audience, her experiences growing up in the community inform most of her work. 

Her webcomic titled “Anoush Talks To Stuff” stars a cartoon version of herself speaking to either the audience or to inanimate objects, namely a teddy bear and kitchenware. The inanimate objects usually never respond to Anoush’s comments, but instead give her a blank yet reassuring look.

“Sometimes you don’t get a response from life. You just got to go ahead and do the work yourself sometimes,” Froundjian says. 

Since starting her webcomic 10 years ago, Froundjian says her art style has become looser and less stick figure-like. Her cartoon self has grown to smile more instead of relying on sarcastic remarks. Froundjian also believes her screenwriting background has helped with the revision process in both her writings and drawings.

“I’ve enjoyed putting all my ideas together, but I’ve also enjoyed knowing what does not need to be there,” she says. “You don’t have to talk about everything.”

She plans to continue the art series and create variations of it with different objects. 

“Anything to create a sense of home,” she says.

Froundjian is also an award-winning storyteller and has performed live at The Moth. Many of her stories are about growing up as an Armenian American and navigating early adulthood.

“You grow up as an Armenian American and you feel like ‘Oh my God no one’s ever going to understand me,’” she exclaims. “Someone’s going to get it. A whole community got it.”

Julietta Bisharyan

Julietta Bisharyan

Julietta Bisharyan is an intern at the Armenian Weekly. She is pursuing a master’s degree in Journalism at UC Berkeley after earning her bachelor’s in English at UC Davis. She is from South San Francisco.

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