Sunday, March 1, 2009

Artist Feature :: Erika Schulz

Real Name: Erika Schulz
Online Alias: Tempest Studios
Location: Red Deer, AB, Canada

Online Store:
Online Art Gallery:

To start off, please tell us a little bit about yourself and where you are from.

I was born in Burnaby B.C., and moved to Red Deer when I was 4. Right now I co-own and manage a Fine Art Gallery in Red Deer called Gallery IS. I am a professional artist in that I work on my art every day and sell it to the public. I also like movies, fantasy books, history, anime, moonlit nights, scarves, the changing seasons, poutine, nachos, and playing card games.

What inspired you to be an artist? And are you schooled in any way?

My inspirations have always been the same. I am pretty consistent when it comes to the things I like. I was, is, always will be inspired by history and mythology. I read Fantasy exclusively and I was always really interested in ancient things. I also find the study of different cultures to be really inspirational, especially Japan and Egypt, although now my interest encompasses pretty much every culture. Being an artist is just who I am. Its just at the core of my being.

I always took art in school. In high school I even managed to take two art classes at the same time. Those semesters were pretty swell. After I graduated I took the fine art program at Red Deer College. I did this 2 year program part time, over 4 years, working and paying for it myself. It was the best thing for me to do because it afforded me the extra time I like to take when learning new things. Learning a new technique and actually having the time to experiment with it was important to me. During those years I majored in Printmaking and Drawing.

Are you a working artist or a hobbyist? How long?

My family would say I have been an artist for my whole life, but as a kid it was always a hobby and something I enjoyed doing. I was pretty proud of being able to colour in the lines when all my friends could not. My aspirations were always more towards the sciences. Growing up is always an eye opener, and when I discovered the amount of work it would take to pursue a career in science I guess you could say I took the easy way out and focused more on my art. I say it was easy because for me it wasn't a stretch to imagine doing this for the rest of my life since I had already been doing it my whole life.

I have been a professional artist for the last 9 years. I have been creating a body of work every year and selling it to the public. I really became serious in 2004 when I quit my part time job and devoted all of my energy towards earning a living through my artwork. The Gallery became a part of my life in 2006. I can honestly say that I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for my family. They are extremely supportive.

What types of media do you most regularly work with to create your art?

I work in many two dimensional media, but most frequently acrylics, ink, and mixed media.

You have a unique and special style with your paintings that makes them stand out as being pieces done by you. When and How did you discover this artistic niche?

I stared doing the technique in 2004, after a major mental block forced me to throw caution to the wind and try new and experimental things. I developed my drawings with paint after studying the work of a favorite artist who did something similar at the turn of the 19th century with string and gesso. It became a niche totally by accident, which is how I think it happens 99 percent of the time. If you are doing something unique it happens naturally, and it just so happens that not only do you like doing it, but people also like looking at it.

Can you remember the first time you publicly displayed a piece of art? Tell us about the experience.

I cant remember exactly. I have been showing my art to the public for a long time. I was always in art classes in school and my teachers were great at getting their students exposed to this next part of being artistic. The Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery also has a great relationship with the school board and hosts a couple of shows specifically to showcase art by jr high and high school students. I'm pretty sure the first time I exhibited was in jr high at the museum. I was pretty proud at that moment seeing my work in a professional environment, framed. It really gave me incentive to try hard to get those kind of credits.

Where do you get the majority of your inspiration for your art?

My inspiration is pretty varied. I am inspired by nature, other artists, things I read, dreams, and history. I would have to say the biggest is History and Mythology. I love stories, especially fantastical ones. I am a big big fan of sci-fi and fantasy, and I have always been. Colour and textures are also a big influences. I could be sent off with just a look at a piece of Japanese patterned paper.

What type of studio space do you work in? Do you just paint wherever you are, or do you have an artist studio space somewhere that you work in?

I cant work out doors. I need a controlled environment with all my stuff readily at hand. If my space is chaotic so are my thoughts and when that happens I don't get much work done. My studio is at home, which works the best because I am also a night owl. I just work until my eyes close and then fall into bed.

Tell us about one of your pieces that you especially love and why?

That's a hard question to answer. I am about the process of making the art and not so much about the finished product. I rarely will finish a piece and stand back and go "im a genius!", but it does happen and those are the pieces I like the most. I also work a lot in series, and I find I am more proud of a series of work than an individual piece. I think the works I am still the most proud of have to be my Red Lantern drawings. I look back on those and cant believe I did them. Its hard to remember all the struggles now, and all the time I spent. Mainly that's what I remember about a piece of artwork, but with those drawings I don't dwell on the stuff I hate, or the stuff that was hard, I just appreciate the accomplishment.

Aside from creating art, what do you do?

If you mean hobbies, I am a dvd addict. I love movies. I also make jewellery and knit, although I don't get to do that as often as I would like, since if I have the time to knit that usually means I have the time to paint or draw, and those things come first. I also own an Art Gallery, called Gallery IS. Its my base of operations.

What influences have helped you get to this point in your artistic career?

My mom is a small business owner and she has had a huge influence on the way I look at my art as a career. Its not all fun with finger paints you know, there is a lot of hard work to make it a day job. I am a big study of fellow artists, past and present, too. I try to glean what I can from the lives of artists I admire to see what I can learn from them and apply to my own life.

What are your goals as an artist, long term and short term?

Really, my only goals are to keep moving forward and to keep getting better and more successful. There is always room for improvement, but at the same time I would be very happy just selling enough art to pay all my bills. I always have lots of plans and projects so the future for me is just getting those things done.

Do you have any advice for artists who are trying to turn their desire to create into something that 'brings home the bacon' ?

-Learn as much as you can from as many people as you can.
-Don't get too attached to your art. Once the creating is done you have to let it go out into the world. Related to that is not taking things to personally. Many artists feel like they are attached at the hip to their art. If you cant take some criticism and compliments you wont last very long.
-Remember that art is also a business. If you want to achieve financial success, you need to learn about all that stuff too. Agents are a thing of the past. Now a days artists have to do all the work themselves.
-Don't be afraid to think out of the box. Most of the time you have to come at success sideways.
-Trial and error are your new favorite words.

Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?

Don't stop. Momentum is really important. Always create, and you have to keep at it. If its a passion for you, don't let people tell you its not important, or that it doesn't matter compared to farming, or plumbing, or doctoring, or politics. Art is just as important as those things. Its what defines humans as humans, our ability to imagine and create. Opposable thumbs aside, its the reason we are at the top of the food chain.

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