Music electrifies her soul, as she channels what she feels through the stroke of a brush. Atlanta based artist Erica Arndts doesn’t hold back as vibrant works of iconic pop portraits emerge on canvas, she’s a firecracker in every sense of the word. Bursts of raw energy contrasted by explosive colors can be felt throughout her work, Hendrix, Sex Pistols, Warhol, icons from an older era clearly drive her art and it’s working.
GroundSounds recently caught up with Erica for an exclusive interview about upcoming projecs, artistic inspirations and more, check it out below.
Can you tell us a little about your journey- where are you from and how did you become an artist?
Life as an artist started in Centerville, Ohio where I was born and raised! When I think about my childhood, I just remember I always loved to draw. I would draw cartoons, bugs, animals, movie covers, etc. I remember when I was probably about 6 years old I was drawing the Lion King movie cover and my mom told me it was a nice picture I traced. I told her I didn’t trace it, and she asked me to draw it again, and I did. I think at that point my parents realized I picked my Grandmother and Grandfathers artistic traits.
High School was where I really honed into painting. I never really painted that much before then. My High School art teacher, Francine Riley, really helped channel the inner artist in me, and I will be forever grateful to her. I wanted to paint some of my favorite musicians and actors/actresses because that’s what inspired me. I created paintings of Bob Marley, Jared Leto, a 7 foot painting of Jimi Hendrix on an old bulletin board, fashion models, etc. I decided I might have a chance at being a decent artist so I enrolled at The University of Cincinnati in their Fine Art program. After about a year and a half I realized I didn’t want to use my money on developing my painting skills, and I would just develop them myself. I later switched majors to Fashion Design, moved to Los Angeles, and completed the rest of my college years at The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandise (FIDM) with a degree in Apparel Manufacturing Management. I designed for several companies in Los Angeles, and continued to do my paintings on the side. I couldn’t afford to live in LA anymore, and my heart was never completely in fashion because I couldn’t use my artistic skills how I wanted to, so I packed up and moved to Georgia…… And the journey is still continuing!
Now that you are based in Atlanta what do you enjoy most about the city?
The music and the people! The people in Atlanta are so nice, welcoming and supportive. It was almost shocking moving here from Los Angeles because the people I have encountered are so inviting, kind and sincere. Southern Hospitality is still very much alive here! Aside from the warm hearted people, the music scene in Atlanta is superb. Tickets are cheap, venues are everywhere, and there is a concert somewhere probably every day of the week in a 10 mile radius. Music is the biggest influence in my art, so to be able to walk to music venues and festivals is quite convenient for my lifestyle. Atlanta is a fantastic city that I have fallen in love with.
Can you tell us about creating your works; when painting do you have a preferable mood or setting?
I will usually drink lots of coffee, turn on some jams and just dive in to the paints. I paint in my studio, which is the second bedroom of my condo and that is where all the magic happens. If someone were to come into my studio they would either embrace some really loud reggae, classic rock, or electronic music. You might get some strong whiffs of all sorts of smells too.
Do you have typical time of day that you paint or is it whenever inspiration hits?
During the work week, I wake up at 5:30am and paint till about 8:30am. I’ll pick up the brush again the same day from about 7pm-midnight each night. Weekends are solely for painting. I will wake up early on Saturday and paint all day, and will paint all day on Sunday. I am constantly being inspired though, and anytime I think of ideas, I’ll drop everything and write it down so I don’t forget!
From Jimi Hendrix to Kate Moss, a lot of iconic stars have been featured in your work, how do you choose the icon?
They are all icons that have captured my soul over the years. I remember listening to Jimi Hendrix in High School and just falling in love with his screaming guitar. His soulful sound and passion for music really triggered my passion for wanting to create the essence of a song or musician or icon and translate it through paint on canvas. I am such a music junkie; I have a long mental list of paintings I have yet to create of musicians who inspire me. Aside from music, I am constantly intrigued of famous actresses, actors, models, sports figures, etc.
How do you know when a work is finished?
When I get to the point where I can step back and really dissect the whole painting and make there is no line unfinished, and no traces of paint or color where it doesn’t belong, then I can paint the edges. I paint the edges of my canvases as the very last step. Then the painting is finished.
Your work is very playful and often fantastical. What goes through your head when you are coming up with ideas for a painting?
Subject matter, color, movement and layers. Once I have decided what subject matter I want to paint I will do my research. I will look up different images, watch movies listen to music and just really submerge myself completely into that piece. I also think about what people want to see, connect with and essentially, buy. All at the same time, I have to create something that is me, I can stand behind and has my bright colors and a bold subject.
I am slightly obsessed with bright colors and that will always be present in my work. I like to add paint splatter, stripes, polka dots, multiple images in one painting, etc to create movement and depth. I will take that initial sketch and work it to death before I start painting. The sketch has to be just right before I start bringing it to life on canvas.
How do you approach a canvas differently than a mural, and do you prefer one over the other?
They are two different beasts but so similar at the same time. I would create my sketch for a mural the same way I would for a painting. The only difference with a mural is materials and size. It is easy to take an image I would use for a painting and enlarge it for a mural. The tricky thing is what type of to use for each mural, weather conditions (depending if you’re inside or out), height restraints, etc. There is much more planning with a mural than a painting. I really don’t have a preference between painting on canvas or painting a mural. I appreciate how different they both are and absolutely love creating both! That is the great thing about being an artist is that there are so many different platforms you can paint on, there are no limits.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your latest series “golden years?”
The “golden years” series is really a label I am using over my entire collection of art (minus a few pieces). Last summer I was painting a picture of David Bowie, listening to the song “golden years”, and I really listened to the lyrics and just thought this would be the best name to sum up all of my work. I think of “the golden years” as different eras that have unfolded over time. Those precious early years are the years that shaped so much of the music, culture, art and film that we have today. The launch of rock n roll in the 50’s, swinging psychedelic 60’s, soul of the 70’s, the magical history within the walls of Studio 54, Andy Warhol’s pop art movement, punk rock, grunge of Nirvana, are the big players and influences in my art. I feel like those years really paved the way for the twentieth century. We will never have those golden years ever again, but I will do my damnedest to recreate them on canvas.
You have done some cool art giveaways, leaving works of your art hidden around town, where did you come up with this idea?
Not my idea! A fellow Atlanta artist told me about Free Art Friday Atlanta #FAFATL, and thought it would give me some good exposure and a chance to connect with other local artists. It is a genius concept: a city wide art scavenger hunt. Every Friday an artist will create a small version of their own artwork and leave it somewhere in the city for someone to find. FAFATL is a fantastic outlet to help local artists show their work, give back to the community, and let someone enjoy their art at no cost.
What are you currently working on? What can fans look forward to next?
I am currently working on a series of British musicians, actors/actress and icons. I didn’t really think much of it but started to realize I have paintings of Twiggy, David Bowie, Kate Moss, the Sex Pistols, the Beatles, and thought I will just run with that idea for now. It will mesh into the “golden series” series and I’ll continue painting icons from the earlier years. There will be a British invasion hitting Atlanta soon!
GroundSounds has officially teamed up with Atlanta based street artist Erica Arndts to run an exclusive limited edition print release of her iconic pop portraits “Kate Moss Electrified” and “Bowie Frosted.”
This is a 72-hour sale, the time to act is now!
My series of pop art paintings of musical and historical icons was inspired by David Bowie. His ability to transform into different alter egos, and the way he challenged the belief of rock n roll music has always touched me, and is the main influence in my “Golden Years” collection – properly named after my favorite album of his. He is one of the greatest musical innovators and pop culture icons in history. I wanted to take his chameleon like character and paint his persona with blue hues and pops of magenta and white, to give him a frosted look.
Much like the name, Kate Moss is striking, oozes sex appeal, and from her strut on any runway, to her cool ass chick vibe, she is truly electrifying. I wanted to capture her essence on canvas with splattered neon colors, lined with imperfections and movement. There was no rhyme or reason to this painting, I let go and had fun, and I dig the results.
[ujicountdown id=”72-Hour Bowie/Moss Print Sale” expire=”2015/05/03 14:00″ hide=”true” url=”” subscr=”” recurring=”” rectype=”second” repeats=””]
Price: $20.00 Price: $20.00 Price: $35.00