Meet the Artist: April Bleakney, APE MADE

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Drawing inspiration from an array of sources, APE MADE reflects both the personal and the political.

By Kelli Comer

Local artist April Bleakney isn’t content to simply stand by. She brings her voice to life visually through her artwork, implementing a bold, gritty textural aesthetic loaded with meaning and layering.

“Like any good pop artist, I pull inspiration from all around me: Current events, my city/neighborhood, family, pop culture, nature, music, books, philosophy, travel, science and personal history,” April says. “Thematically, my work often reflects the personal and the political. I have developed an artistic practice rooted in social consciousness and community engagement, always with an eye to the past and a hopeful wish for the future.”

April’s foundation in history is often utilized in her artworks, whether through research or inclusion of historic imagery and stories. Her love of photography is also paramount—she employs photographic elements within her artworks as figurative components, textures or abstracted layers.

April graduated from Kent State University in 2008 with dual degrees—a BFA with a focus on printmaking/serigraphy and a BA in history.

“In the height of the Great Recession in 2008, it was rough out there for a recent graduate,” April explains. “It was so hard to make ends meet at that time. I worked multiple jobs at once that left me stressed out, broke and unhappy. All of this set the stage for me to take the plunge to starting my own creative business, APE MADE, in 2011.”

APE MADE began with both art and apparel before organically morphing into a clothing line due to commercial success. “About five years in, I made the conscious decision to intentionally shift my energies back into the fine art realm, focusing on public art, murals, commissions, residencies and more personal work,” April notes.

Over the past 15 years, April has operated primarily as a one-woman creative business with screen-printing at the core, but with a breadth of experience and dabbling in other printmaking methods, photography and mixed media work. She utilizes only eco-friendly hand printing techniques in her studio while championing handmade and traditional processes.

April Bleakney

“I believe in purpose-driven printmaking, and I share the love of this art form through teaching, public- and community-based art projects, commissions and artist residencies,” April says. “I am intentional in leveraging my business and my art in support of local social justice charitable organizations and fundraising efforts.”

To reach April, email For more information, visit To shop on Etsy, visit APE MADE is carried locally at Salty Not Sweet in Lakewood, CLE Clothing Co. and Zygote Press in Cleveland, Heights Arts in Cleveland Heights, Bay Arts in Bay Village, Canton Museum of Art in Canton and Handmade Toledo in Toledo.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment