Hello there! My name is Erika and I’m the person behind the art of Miss E! Let me share with you the story of how I became obsessed with art and why it brings me so much joy.
Each artwork I create is a delicate process - first I pour out my soul on the palette, add a dash of my innermost feelings, pepper in my darkest fears - and mix well. Once combined, I slather it lovingly all over a piece of timber until a see my vision staring back at me! This process is everything to me, it makes my heart explode in the best way possible.
But I never wanted to be an artist.
No, I was too pragmatic for that. Growing up, I was keenly aware of the ‘struggling artist’ depicted everywhere in popular culture and history. Artists were lonely, tormented souls who worked tirelessly on their craft only to barely make ends meet. As a child, Mum described me as organised, ambitious and bossy. Hardly the traits of an artist!
But - I loved making art! Ever since the first time I scribbled all over the hallway walls, there was no stopping me. I would cut up cardboard boxes to make mazes for my pet mice. I would spend hours drawing up the perfect birthday card for my cousin. I went through a phase where all I was drawing was friendly monsters because they made me feel less afraid. As I got older, I started drawing house plans and fashionable girls. Always a hobby, a way to impress friends and family - never my lifelong devotion. Not yet.
Despite my love of creation - it never occurred to me that I could BE an artist.
A real artist.
So, leaving high-school with my creative flair, leadership skills and an interest in communications - I took the only obvious pathway. I went to University and studied ADVERTISING. There were plenty of jobs promised to us at the end of our course, and look - we could make money being creative! Unfortunately, this turned out to be a promise the industry could not deliver on. After 3 years of study and 2 years working in the industry full time, I decided advertising wasn’t for me. I enrolled in a painting short course and went along to classes after work. Until finally...
Making such a big life change was terrifying - but there was a spark inside me that wanted to paint. I wanted to paint all day every day. And that’s what I was gonna try and do. After clawing my way up the food chain since the day I started school, suddenly I found myself feeling like I was at the bottom. Unemployed, terrified, uncertain... and the happiest I had been in years!
Picking up odd-jobs here and there to pay the bills, it was extremely difficult adjusting to the judgements of others. The judgement was real and relentless. I remember running into an ex-colleague who said: “Wow you’ve really moved up in the world!” Ouch. In those moments, I felt like a failure. A joke. The laughing stock of the world.
But when I started to paint - it didn’t matter what anyone else thought.
When I was painting though - I was in my element. Who cares what they think, or say. They clearly don’t understand the joy that ripens in my soul when I create a painting. I would go to work, make just enough money, and then spend all of my time painting. Not having a studio of my own, I would get out all my art supplies and set up at the kitchen bench. Then pack it all up at the end of the day, and start again tomorrow. In those first couple of years, I made about 100 paintings. And no, they weren’t good. I didn’t suddenly realise I was some sort of artistic genius. I wasn’t gifted or talented.
I worked hard.
I worked damn hard! Looking up every internet tutorial I could find, studying the ins and outs of my favourite artists’ work. I would finish a piece - take a moment to reward myself and bask in my own creation - then immediately become dissatisfied and begin another piece. There is nothing quite as wonderful as working toward being your best, meeting your full potential. I wasn’t there yet, but I felt like I was on my path.
One day, a gallery offered me a place in one of their group exhibitions. What? One of my paintings up on the wall with my heroes of the art industry? My head imploded. I was overcome with self-doubt. I declined the offer. At the time, I felt like if my painting went up on the wall with real artworks, everyone would see that I wasn’t a real artist. For some reason, the potential for failure overwhelmed me.
I was disappointed in myself.
Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to learn from that experience. I realised that comfortable misery just wasn’t for me. The next time I was invited to exhibit my work in a gallery, I said heck yes! It was a nerve wracking experience, putting my artwork up on the wall amongst experienced and revered painters. But it didn’t look out of place. Sure, I could see that my technical and conceptual abilities were no match for the seasoned pros. But, that’s okay, I told myself. You have to start somewhere!
Once I realised that the world didn’t collapse around me when I publicly displayed a painting - there was no stopping me. Boo - yah! I can do this! Being able to exhibit my artworks in reputable galleries was a milestone for me. It felt amazing to show my family and friends that this crazy dream of mine to become an artist wasn’t such a crazy dream after all. For the first time since I left my career in advertising, I felt like I was finding success.
I found my place in the world.
I now spend the days in my very own studio (no more kitchen bench for me!) pouring artworks out of my body and soul. And spend the evenings teaching budding artists the joy of painting. What more could I ask for? Discovering the person that I want to be has been an epic journey, and one that I will continue on for the rest of my days. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I took a chance on wanting more from life. Imagine if I was still chained to a desk selling my soul in advertising! Truly horrifying.