Artist Proof: Erik Abel is heavily influenced by and involved in the surf/skate/snow sports industry and working as a freelance graphic designer and art director for over 10 years, Abel‘s method of bold, graphical imagery fused with his loose brush and pen work seems to find a growing niche of it’s own in the fast rising “Urban Contemporary” art movement.
Originally from Ventura County, CA, Abel has drifted back and forth to Portland, Oregon professionally pursuing his passion for art. He currently shows in galleries throughout the U.S. and plans to travel the world surfing and making art in 2009.
Artsprojekt: What inspires your art?
Erik Abel: Inspiration is a funny thing to pin down, it’s always changing. Of course, and I think everybody that makes art can agree, there is always a constant flow of inspiration from other artists, dead or alive. And it’s not just their artwork but also the way they are marketing themselves and the vibe they are creating around their work. It’s inspiring to see others striving to do well and actually pulling it off, that’s the business side of things. My inspiration for actually making work comes from a slightly different place. It comes from a compilation of my life’s interests… the ocean and surfing, ancient cultures/art, science, biology, visual balance etc… and the need to fine tune the images and ideas I see in my head. That’s why I like to make art… it’s a rewarding challenge to work through the fog and hazy visions and arrive at a final product. The act of creating stuff is inspiring in itself.
AP: What is the relationship between technique and content in your work?
Erik: My technique is mostly just a means to an end. Once I work out the content in my head or in a rough sketch, I need to see it materialize pretty quickly or I lose interest and move on to some other idea, so the technique is adjusted to suit that timeframe. I can’t work on a piece for more that a day or two… I’ll lose the initial spark and I think it shows in my work through the the energetic sketchyness, the simple overall compositions and the separated colors, it’s just how I work, I don’t get caught up in detail. So I guess “content” wears the pants in the relationship. Even though I work fairly quickly, I still enjoy the process, it’s challenging to explore new techniques that can fit the way that I work.
AP: Describe your first experience of making art and how it affected your life’s journey.
Erik: My first art experience of making art was documented but the photo has gone missing, I blame my parents for that (Mom, Dad you better find that picture!) I can remember the photo, I was about 1.5 years old, in diapers with a shirt on, curly blond fro, I was looking at the camera with a giant smile and showcasing a life size blue balloon I drew with chalk on my little wooden table in my room, it even had the little knot on the bottom of it with a long white string. I’m sure that moment had something to do with where I am today.
AP: Describe your most recent experience of making art.
Erik: I’m currently traveling for a while and haven’t been painting all that much. My form of art making has shifted from the gallery work to working on more commercial and illustration-based projects. I’ve been focusing on work I can do on the road from my laptop. Just take a look at most of my products on ARTSPROJEKT, all done with a pen, a camera and a computer from New Zealand. So I guess it’s been a pretty cool experience of being able to make art for sale while half way around the world. I’ve also been enjoying just sketching and drawing without the pressure of an upcoming show or event. Just being able to slow down and enjoy the process without having a purpose or a plan has been a breath of fresh air. It’s good to take a few steps back once in a while and ask yourself some questions about why you do what you do.
AP: Take us on a guided tour through a day in your life as an artist.
Erik: A few months ago I would have woken up in my Portland Oregon home/ studio(or been driving to the beach if there was swell, or the mountain if it was deep, which would pretty much ruin any chance of being productive on the work front), made a giant pot of coffee, cooked a mean breakfast scramble with a side of bacon(crisped to absolute perfection in my cast iron pan, it’s one of my specialties) and check emails while the coffee kicked in. Then I’d either be working on design work or art for an upcoming show all day. Beer or wine usually made an appearance around 4 or 5pm, although earlier in most cases and then it was all the more easy for friends to get me out of the house and be bad influences on me… the fun kind of bad influences though. But I’ve always pretty good at holding my ground when there is some serious work to be done and I need to go into dungeon mode and just slam out work day and night. Sometimes I gotta be Mr. Boring to my friends and fam, ignore phone calls and parties and have some discipline or I end up getting frustrated that nothing is being created, I’m not where I want to be and the bank account is on empty.
But then the travel bug gave me a good sting in the ass and I decided to go into dungeon mode for months straight, save up all my pennies and go surf the world for a few years. I realized life’s waaaaay too short to not be doing exactly what I want to do or at least be actively working towards it. So now my days are filled with surfing, exploring, drawing, naps, planning world domination and lining up design/illustration work that I can do on the road so I can pay the bills and continue on. As long as I have some form of creative outlet… life is all good! And the more I look, the more I find different outlets to be creative and that offer another stream of income… add ARTSPROJEKT to that list. Technology is amazing! Cheers!
Check out Erik Abel’s Artsprojekt Store here