ask for the simplicity erinn hatter
I met Erinn at an art opening in Fairbanks just a few days before she moved to Portland, Oregon. It was one of those moments where you immediately like someone. In an instant you can tell that the two of you could sit for hours easy talking life and art. Gotta love a gut feeling. From that point on we traded art and emails and became comrades on this windy path of art + entrepreneurship. I am so happy to share the latest creative interview with my friend, the talented Miss Erinn Hatter ...
What is creativity to you? What does your creative process feel like?
My creative process comes about kind-of effortlessly when I am really in “the zone”. It takes a while to warm-up to reach the zone, much like one would have to do before running a marathon or playing music, and I usually do this with a few “minis”...[announcement] postcards that I spray paint and rework to create little miniature original artworks. A key component to my creative process is having something to start with- I use old canvases that people have already worked on and have disposed of. I use the existing image as a launching point, trying to work with the shapes, colors, or values that are already on the canvas and develop an image that is in my head or has already come to fruition on one of those minis. I usually am working on two or three pieces at once, because I find if I leave one for just a few minutes and get a fresh look I know what to do next. Sometimes I rework a canvas two and three times before I come to a place where I see a direction to take, a form to develop, a final resting place. I add layers with collage, acrylic paint, watercolor crayon, press-type lettering, paint markers, adhesive tonal mediums and other drawing materials until the push and pull of the piece feels just right. Balanced.
How has your life changed since deciding to pursue making a living from being creative?
Since deciding to pursue the professional notion of being an “artist” about one year ago, I have felt an ever-growing sense of freedom, a feeling of contentment in life, and a greater sense of direction...or maybe motivation. Deciding to “just go for it” and dive into pursuing what you know you love doing feels good, feels right. Once I committed to the idea and sat with it for a little while I felt all this momentum building toward something that appeals to me. The effort that I have been making towards my goal(s) doesn't feel heavy or like “work”, even though I am left to do it in my “free time” after my day job, because I envision the satisfaction of living the life I want down the line.
outside erinn hatter
Describe what inspires your art making:
I am inspired by artists working today with mixed media, textiles, print media, painting and ceramics. I am drawn to artists who, like I, take the world they are living in and translate it. That is, not literal or life-like renderings of this world, but glimpses into what he or she sees this world as being like or feeling like or looking like. Sometimes this means finding a simplicity or a simplification, a notion. I also admire other artists who are re-using materials: sculptors who are making forms from “junk” and two-dimensional artists who are conscientious about material usage.
Artists whose work I admire or whose work resonates with me are Alaskan artist Sara Tabbert, Portland artists Kelly Neidig and Opie Snow, ceramic artist Courtney Chapman, designer Lotta Jansdotter, the Just Seeds Artist Cooperative, and of course you Amy Komar :)
straining not to look at erinn hatter
In music and written form I draw inspiration from wordsmiths...those who have a knack for manipulating language, words...or in musical terms, syllables, stresses, word combinations and phrasings that are tactile, encourage imagery, dense and kind-of juicy...like I could make a painting from just one line, one lyric, and there's an album full of lyrics to spend time with. Some of my favorite writing comes from the lyrics from The National- a New York based band, poet David Lehman who wrote a poem every day for several years and published them in books called “A Daily Mirror” and “The Evening Sun”, writing genius Dave Eggers, and an old book I have called “People and Places” that I cut up into words and strips and reassemble. Most of my paintings contain text fragments from this book and most of their titles come from this practice. My favorite artist who works with text as influence or incorporates it into her work is printmaker Leslie Dill. I feel like my work used to resemble her style a lot years ago. I still feel inspired by her process.
What are you working on these days?
I am still working in mixed media painting though I've been feeling an urge to create some prints from my more recent paintings. Right now I am definitely enjoying the process of painting, collage, layering, and finding a point of completion that wasn't planned. In printmaking its kind of necessary to have more of a plan, to envision what you expect the final piece to become. It also takes more time per piece, and while I have a day job painting is more spontaneous, immediate, reactionary, and fun. I have been painting “scapes” for the last two and a half years (influenced by living in Alaska) but I'm eager to let the universe present me with some new subject matter. I have a series with buoys up my sleeve and I might like to get into more storytelling scenes, based on the text assemblages I mentioned before.
aerial erinn hatter
What do you love most about where you are now in the experience of living your creative dream?
I think the best thing about pursuing what I love is having the realization that all those dreams of “what I want to be when I grow up” can actually, will actually, come true. As a girl I was always drawing from those “learn to draw” books. I went to high school every day just because I didn't want to miss art class. I couldn't think of anything else I would ever want to study in college except art (or dance my other passion). Now to make that a real option..well, it feels good.
What do you intend for your creative business in 2010?
I am just starting out. I have dipped my toe into the pool of “creative dreams” and that has felt really great. In the next year my goals are to get an art space outside my home ( I feel a stagnance of qi painting in the room where I sleep), learn more about website design and upgrade to a dotcom, show my work every month 1) at a space and 2) at a sales venue, and work to further “brand” myself (“Leap Year, Baby...”). I am also interested in making giclees of some of my paintings...especially the ones that belong to friends and family :)
Another goal for me is to become an independent art instructor. The nine-to-five job of educational assistant takes a lot of my energy and leaves me drained sometimes when I really want to get painting and get creative. I would like to have more time to create and to lead others through experiences of creativity...quality teaching experiences not quantity I suppose.
What words of wisdom would you share with other artists pioneering a similar path?
Well, as you said to me when I came to you as a pioneer, you have to believe in your path down to your toes, inside and out. I was timid about the business end of making a living through art and creativity but I came a place of optimism and faith. As you said too, you really have to sit and envision what you are going for...”what does success look like?”...and start to iron out some tangible “baby step” goals. Networking is key (I could probably still do better in this arena) and branding yourself is big too. But first and foremost, believe every day that you can do it. You will do it.
Please list (9) good things that came from following your bliss:
1. a greater sense of contentment
2. heightened direction, motivation, purpose
3. a more positive outlook on my life
4. a feeling of balance created from the notion that art-making can support me financially. I always struggle with financial aspects of my life and struggle with finding work that I can endure day-to-day without losing myself. I thrive when I get to be creative. When these two are aligned more completely I will feel a great lifelong stress being lifted.
5. fulfillment and accomplishment (validation!) that other people like my work, which I create for myself and which comes from within. Its satisfying when my work resonates with total strangers...I feel a connection to the human world when this happens.
6. connecting with new and creative, wonderful people.
7. feeling my vision slowly become real...gratification!
8. here's to creativity!
9. personal growth via art-making
To see more of Erinn's art: