interview with Erika Pearce | graphic design & digital art 27/06/2013

Q: Your style is really remarkable and feminine, it reminds me of a tattoo sketchbook. Really cool. How would you describe your style?
A: My style has a really strong linear feel, even in my softer pieces. I have always been interested in creating really dynamic line work, this is where tattoo art has a definite influence on my style. Tone and smooth gradations are also really important to me.

Q: How has your style developed over the years of experience, do you have any influences?
A: I have always been fascinated by tattoo art, since I was a tiny little kid. I really like images that tell a story or hold a lot of significance and meaning. I think art is really important for that reason. I have a lot of influences, everything from the ocean to plants and flowers, animals and birds. I like to create beautiful things. I am certainly influenced by surf, skate and street art too. I used to paint a lot of New Zealand scenery and surf artwork. I spent some time in LA (Santa Monica & Venice Beach), which really inspired me to create what I do now.

Q: To be creative person, must be a blast. You work on many mediums, such as skate decks, canvas, some digital art, what else? However, your creativity inspires lots of people around. Do you have any favorite medium?
A: It is pretty awesome! I was always that arty kid at school, so it's nice to know that all that time doodling during math class has paid off. I really like to mix it up with my artwork, I don't want to limit myself to a certain medium or style. I really enjoy painting on wood, there is something so nice about painting on interesting materials. I also do a lot of graphic design work (that is what I originally trained in at University). I really try to bring across a unique style with my design work too. I always try and start with drawing, for any kind of project. I think this is the fundamental thing that makes my work unique from anyone else's. All in all, I think painting (acrylics) is my favorite medium. I like to challenge myself and I feel like I am always improving, it's a really good feeling.

Q: How does an average working day go for you? Do you have any special inspiring techniques? Com'on, share some tricks with us!
A: Well I work from home and have a really nice studio space. I have been out on my own since August 2012 and I have never looked back. It is really nice not having to get up early and sit in traffic to get to work, although, my work really does consume most of my life. Every day is different for me and I really like that. I try to mix up the time I spend on the computer with painting as much as possible, that way I stay inspired and and have energy for the multiple projects I am always working on at any one time. I follow a lot of artists and creative people on Facebook, they are not only hugely inspiring, but also a huge motivator for me and where I want to be.

Q: It's almost impossible to not like your skate decks, even if someone is not into skateboarding, honestly they look awesome! Are you into skateboarding, do you skate or it's just a great inspiration?
A: Aw thank you! I am into surfing more, but it is winter now so I haven't been out for a while. Skate art has always caught my eye and I felt that the decks were the perfect thing to paint and develop my style with. I love pin up girls of the 40s and 50s, tattoo art and a whole mix of a million other things. They just seemed to come together really well. I also really like the idea of using old found materials and turning them into art. All the skate decks I paint on are pre loved and often broken and unrideable. I like taking something that would otherwise get thrown out and turning it into something with value.

Q: Old School tattoo designs, lots of them... Do you remember when the impression for this kind of work first began?
A: To be honest I'm not really sure. I have always been drawn to ink, I'm pretty sure I would have stared at people with tattoos as a kid, for no other reason but to take in and remember the designs. I can remember liking the old school designs but thinking that they could sometimes be so crudely drawn and wanting to put my own spin on them.

Q: Do you have any special reason why you choose the old school designs as your main creative line?
A: I like the fact that a lot of them carry symbolism. The swallow is my favorite for it's nautical, freedom and loyalty meanings. I come from a nautical family too. I also like the traditional style and have developed a few of my favorite NZ birds in a similar way.

Q: Do you get caught up in the meaning of your artworks, or you keep that separate?
A: Always get caught up! In saying that, I do like my work to be easily relatable to the viewer. I like people to make their own opinions on what it is about as well as to be able to share the story with them.

Q: Most of your works are hand made. Awesome! Would you say that this type of work gives you a special, personal note and actually sets you apart from many artists around?
A: Yeah for sure. I like doing digital stuff, but my heart lies with creating things by hand. I like to be able to pick up, touch, smudge my work. It feel more rewarding. It is good to have a range of skills though, especially for commercial projects.

Q: Could you please share some of the funniest/best experiences with the customers?
A: I have had quite a range of people commission artwork, it is the best feeling to create something unique and tailored. The commission I am currently working on right now would probably be the coolest to date: I am painting a 7 skate deck piece (Mexican Day of the Dead themed) which is off to Los Angeles when it is finished. The guy found me on google images!

- Have you ever had any "weird" requests?
Not that I am aware off, but then I am always up to give things a go!

Q: What is the biggest mistake, when it comes art progress? How do you cheer up yourself, when things get tough in the studio?
A: Ooh that's a tricky one... I wouldn't really call anything a mistake, because I always try to find a way to solve any problems or challenges that arise. I think that it is very important as a creative person, to keep an eye on your mood as it is not always easy, especially when you put so much heart and soul into what you are doing. The highs are so high and you feel on top of the world, but then on the other side, it can feel very confusing and you can really doubt yourself. I think the best thing is to be aware of this and when you have a shitty day, find something totally different to do that brings your spirits up or get inspired by looking at artists you really admire. As long as you can accept that there will be times that are hard, but you think the rewards are worth it, then you will know that things will be awesome again.

Q: "Sweet Little Nothings" is your most recent project. Cool, let say a few words about the exhibition. What's the basic idea? Any special expectations?
A: I held the exhibition at a place called Sitka, a really rad little surf shop in Auckland. It was my 3rd time exhibiting there, but my first solo show. The title "Sweet Little Nothings" was inspired by the artwork, a random and eclectic collection of small paintings featuring cupcakes, birds, sugar skulls and of course my interpretation of Bambi and Thumper and Grumpy Cat. I didn't really have any expectations, I just wanted to share my creations.

- Would you say that an art exhibition is a good way to present yourself and your personality as well as your art to the audience?
Yeah I think so. It can be quite stressful getting everything ready, but seeing it all up on the wall on opening night is very rewarding!

Q: What is the next challenge?
A: I have just been invited to do a range of t-shirts with a big New Zealand company called Mr Vintage ( ). This is a huge opportunity for me and I am honored to be asked! They have a huge following in NZ and my tees will be available online for anyone anywhere in the world to buy. I am also working on developing an online store which I am super excited about launching. I am really keen to get into doing more aerosol painting and doing bigger stuff.

Q: What's your best motivational lesson for the new artists?
A: JUST KEEP DRAWING! Never let it go. If you have talent, then peruse it, you never know where it could take you.

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Kind Regards, Erika Pearce