May 2019

Amos Hummell: The Man Behind the Mayfest Poster

Author: Lisa Carroll

Local artist Amos Hummell has colored outside the lines of convention for over four decades. His artwork is bright, busy and energetic, just like Amos. Hummell’s illustration for this year’s Mayfest highlights the uniqueness of the event, while encompassing all the charm and beauty of historic Bluffton.

When he was approached to create the Mayfest poster, Hummell saw it as a unique opportunity to try something new. “The idea was to make something busy, colorful and happy,” he said. “I tried to capture the main icons that purvey the show: tents, music, cooking—and, of course, the ugly dog.”

Hummell first drew the graphic freehand, then it was digitally mixed and enhanced for print. “Usually, most of my artwork has heavy black line work,” Hummell said. “That didn’t work with this one. It was too much to use the black lines in there; so, I left them out. It’s very unlike what I usually do, but I’m thrilled with how it turned out.”

To say that Hummell is an unconventional artist would be an understatement. “I don’t know any rules,” he admits. “I’m always trying different things, and I never work on any single platform.”

Recently, Hummell was commissioned to create a piece for the Bluffton Oyster Trail in front of The Corner Perk. “All the other artists were painting their oyster, but not me,” he said. “I was going to steam-punk my oyster.” His three-dimensional oyster now stands on display at four-feet tall outside of the coffee shop, right in the heart of Old Town Bluffton.

As a child, Hummell dreamed of becoming a cartoonist. He was raised on an animal sanctuary in Simpsonville, South Carolina—a place he still visits today. He spent one year in culinary school in Asheville before hitchhiking back home to South Carolina. “I rolled into Myrtle Beach and didn’t even put my backpack down,” he laughed. “I jumped into the back of a pickup on its way to the Lowcountry, and I’ve been here ever since.”

His journey to the Lowcountry led him to open a small studio adjacent to Eggs N Tricities in Old Town Bluffton. In 2005, Hummell transformed the exterior of his studio into an outdoor theater called Living Colors. For two years, the third Friday of the month was spent entertaining passersby with an interactive art display. “The paintings would talk and blow smoke, or release confetti,” he said. “I never took down the stage; I only kept adding to it.”

The eight-by-eight stage featured all recycled material and artwork. Locals and tourists alike would pull up for impromptu performances. “There were definitely no rehearsals,” he recalled. “It was lively, free and colorful; you couldn’t go wrong.”

After closing his studio in 2008, Hummell returned to food and beverage on Hilton Head Island. But with several decades of bartending behind him, he eventually decided it was time to focus on his artwork full-time. “I promised the universe that I will create art every day and never complain about it ever again,” he shared. “I want to take a more rock ’n’ roll approach to artwork.”

Today, Hummell has switched gears to prepare for the busy tourist season ahead. And he has taken strides to become a more accessible artist, including the use of a local printer, which allows him to create posters that offer more variety to his customers at a better price point. Hummell also utilizes social media to share sketches and gauge what his followers think. He currently lives on Hilton Head Island with his wife, Lynne.

The forty-first Mayfest takes place on Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This free event is open to the public and coordinated by The Rotary Club of Bluffton. Mayfest features more than 200 artists and food vendors.

The event will include a pie-eating contest, doughnut-eating contest and the twenty-sixth annual Ugly Dog Competition. For more information about the event, visit www.blufftonmayfest.com.

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