INTERVIEW: Modern Artist- Erica Iris Simmons

After the "Throw-back-Thursday:Tape Art" post from three weeks ago, I managed catch up with my inspiration for the piece- Erica Iris Simmons and ask her a few questions!! 

Q. Tell me a little bit about yourself
A.I'm Erika, 30, I grew up in Orlando right next to the theme parks. I studied Russian in college and went to make up school afterwards. 
Q. When did you start creating art? Was it something that you always knew you had an aptitude for?
A.I never was interested in art growing up; I never took any classes, but I always could draw and make things pretty well. It was only after university that I tried to make some interesting things.

Q. Where does your inspiration come from? Who inspires you?
A.I have a lot of art heroes but my favourite is Ken Knowlton - his work is mind blowing!! After I saw his art I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Q. Where did the idea for tape art come from?
A.When I started I was a waitress with a lot of student loans so I had NO money for art supplies. I used whatever I could find around the house. At the time I was reading a lot about the philosophy of the mind... it made me think about the data on the tapes and what "ghosts could be hiding in those machines" 

Q.How do you decide what to create from the tape?
A.When I pulled the ribbon out of the cassette it curled up like Jimi Hendrix's hair, so that was the first portrait I made.

Q.What does art mean to you?
A.Art is a way to think about things. I try to express ideas that are difficult to verbalise; I think with my hands. 
Q.Can you walk us through the actual process that you use to create an image and the stages of post production?
A.Every project is different. Usually I "see" most of the finished product before I start. Sometimes I start with a sketch but not usually. Most often I create a pattern to follow then go about gluing and cutting the tape to fit in the design. I start with the facial details or other tedious parts. Then I add 3D textures at the end. Sometimes projects take weeks to finish. It’s slow work. 
Then I take the artwork outside to photograph in soft full-sunlight. All my photos are pretty much unedited, just balanced for colour, etc. (I love creating textures and shadows you just can't get in Photoshop)

Q. What advice would you give to any budding young artist? 
Have fun. Follow your sense of adventure and take risks. Try to make one really KICK ASS piece rather than a whole portfolio, even if that one piece takes a long time. It just takes one piece to show what you're capable of.

Q. What can we expect to see from you in the near future/ what are you working on? 
I am obsessed with old music box parts right now... also experimenting with clock hands... who knows? I have about twenty projects I hope to finish this year!

I absolutely love Erika's work. It is so innovative and takes something that is almost redundant and recreates it into amazing art work. If you would like to see more of her work, check out her website here!  


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