By: Editor in chief: Winter Mendelson
WM: Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Erika Rachel, and I’m a full time artist. Yeeeah.
WM: What is your background? What led you to become an artmaker?
I think what contributed to my being an artist is my two creative entrepreneurial parents. My dad was an engineer, and my mom was a food stylist, so both parents cared about the creative process and an end result of useful beauty. I translate that same idea into art, but growing up I always wanted to be an actress – that was the only creative career I knew of. I like to get connected to emotions and express them in fun ways. I always bucked authority, and after my divorce a year ago I decided “No one’s gonna tell me what I can or can’t do anymore,” so I decided to do art full time.
WM: That’s exciting! Do you pursue specific themes in your work?
Yes, many such as honor, appreciation, love, and sadness (specifically what causes the upset, fear, hurt, or pain).
WM: Are there any artists that particularly inspire you? Why?
Is it cliché to say Andy Warhol ? Yeah, it is, but I have to tell the truth – it’s my curse. I also love the work of Zoe Lacchei, some of her pieces really speak to me.
WM: Can you describe a real-life situation that influenced you?
When my father died. I had to go through all his stuff by myself. I opened boxes and found old family drawings and articles from when my father was young. Things he’d kept that I never knew about. I got to see the chapters of my father’s life, not as I saw them, or even as how he described them, but as his subconscious saw them. The things he saved, the mementos, defined him in a way that words and stories never could. My dad was born in 1939, and was 45 years old when I was born, so he had plenty of life before me that I never knew about. All of this went into a painting titled “Daddy” a 48×60 acrylic that sold almost immediately. Lucky me, lol.
WM: On your website you have a section called “The Art Appreciation Collection.” Can you explain this in detail as well as your ideas behind the “Million Dollar T-Shirt”?
First off, I have to admit. Posture is the first publication I’ve ever been willing to talk with regarding “the Art Appreciation Collection” so… here we go. “The Art Appreciation Collection” is a tribute to the creative process. It started as a declaration of my own self-worth, and evolved into something much much bigger. 8 years ago I started a t-shirt line called “1st Amendment Clothing Company”, the idea was that controversial topics would start on the front and wrap around to the back of the shirt. So one of my first designs said “Straight is Good” on the front, and “Bi is Better” on the back. I realized quickly though that I didn’t want to be just another shirt in everyone’s closet. I cared much more than that, and I’m not a big fan of mass production, so I decided to print all my designs by hand and make them in limited numbers. I wanted people to be more closely related to the creative process. That turned very quickly into anger and upset that so few people could relate to the value of something hand made and unique, so I decided to make a statement piece. A Million Dollar T-shirt.
The Million Dollar T-shirt is the single wearable t-shirt in a series of 5 that I printed from a single silk screen design. The challenge is for someone to buy the million dollar t-shirt, and then and ONLY then will the creative process be triggered into completion. I’ll cut up the silk screen and frame a piece of it with the 4 remaining non-wearable shirts. Then those will be available for purchase.
I want people to be reminded that everything, even the everyday things we take for granted like a t-shirt, have a creative process. We care about organic food, why not organic goods??
And there you have it… Know any buyers?
WM: I love your T-Shirt collection and accessories. Do you make them by hand? Are you looking to expand your collection or focus on your visual art?
I love that you love them! Thank you! I do make each piece of Artwear by hand, and in primitive fashion. No fancy equipment. My silk screens are held down by packs of batteries. I break nearly every rule out there. But what comes out is unique and one of a kind, which is the intention of everything I do. So if people demand them, I will make them. But right now I am focused on my visual art.
WM: What is your dream project?
I’ve had thoughts about traveling. So what I’d like to do is have someone set me up with a place to stay, and show me around their city, from there I’d take the things that inspire me and translate them into paintings. Each city would have a unique flavor and thus unique series of pieces. I’d then do a show in that city and sell all the pieces. Maybe a private show to the friends of the person who set me up there? Just an idea, but I’d LOVE to do it.
I also have an erotic art project that I’d like to progress, but that’s a topic for another day *wink*.
WM: Do you have an ultimate goal for your work and professional life?
I’d like to influence people’s shopping habits ultimately. But I’d also like to inspire more people to do what they love and get paid for it – there would be so many more happy people in this world, don’t you think? However I communicate that, through whatever medium, I’m not as concerned. I care more about having fun while making money and making a difference all the while.