Welcome back to the PP blog! We're excited to say that we have been catching up with our NEWEST PP ARTIST Erin Balzer all the way from Vancouver! We absolutely love Erin's work and hope you enjoy getting to know a little more about her life, and how she creates her beautiful images...
I live in a 40 year old, rectangular, forest green coloured house in Vancouver, Canada with my husband (I call him Grizz) and our dog Freya. My studio is located in my unfinished basement, it has a brick fireplace, lots of table space and a sliding door for my pup to come inside whenever she pleases.
What do you love about working there?
It is an absolute dream to have a space that I call my own. I get messy when I work, woodchips, sawdust, inks and things everywhere, so it is nice to have a place to create worry free. Me and carpet don’t have a good relationship.
What are your dislikes?
It can sometimes be lonely! I talk to myself and my dog way too much.
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I have these drawings pinned up in my studio that I created when I was just a little tyke, and I keep them up as a reminder that I am doing what I have loved to do since I was young! One of the drawings is of a mother goose BBQing potatoes in a field. I love that I have the opportunity to now draw characters like a mother goose BBQing her lunch as a career.
How do you work – what are your techniques?
All of my illustrations are created using woodcut prints.
I usually start by drawing terrible quick sketches of characters and patterns (like these birdies).
I choose one that captivates me, and create a refined and more detailed sketch. (like this christmas partridge).
Then, I go over the finished sketch in pen. After that I transfer the drawing onto the wood and then I carve away! Sometimes I carve outside, or in my studio, or on my couch while watching a movie, this part of the process is my favourite and most rewarding. Wood shavings all over the place.
Once carved, I ink, then ta da! I do a bit of cleaning up in photoshop and then the illustration is complete!
What is your favourite thing to draw?
Animals and bearded mountain men. My husband is a bearded/scruffy dude, he’s inspired many of my human characters. Bears are probably my favourite animal to draw at the moment.
Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?
Right now, I find it is pushing through the mediocre sketches to get to a really great character or concept. Sometimes it can take days of sketching non-stop to create something really substantial in my own style.
What or who are you inspired by?
Many illustrators and printmakers inspire me. As of late, I have been inspired by William Escher, John Lawrence, Lesley Barnes and Steve Light. My dutch heritage also inspires my work. I find loads of inspiration from dutch folk art books my Papa loans to me, the art around his home and in his own paintings. Also, I get inspired michael jackson, mc hammer, james brown….those dance moves:
Do you have a favourite illustrator?
At the moment, Mark Hearld, he is so talented! His aesthetic and prints! *droool*
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
When I am not illustrating you can usually find me at my family cabin with my husband and pup or I could be out eating delicious food somewhere, watching Netflix of course, or taking a dance class.
How did you get into illustration?
I have known that I wanted to have a creative career since I was young. In high school, my painting style was very graphic so a university teacher told me I should try graphic design. After graduating, I really wanted to pursue my more arty side, so I enrolled in a studio art diploma program where my love for illustrating and printmaking really got fired up, I realized it was my true passion and have been pursuing it ever since!
What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1. Do something creative every day.
2. Never stop learning. Keep taking classes online or continuing education
3. Stay passionate and don’t get too serious, remember to have fun and enjoy the journey.
What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I loved all of the Robert Munsch books! Still do. The Princess in the Paper Bag is a favourite.
What was the last book you read? what did you think?
I finally read The Hobbit. Loved it. Home is now behind you, the world is ahead! – Gandalf
What’s your ultimate dream?
To illustrate lots of Children’s Books and to make it work as a full time career. Also to have my own barn studio, with lots of tools and trinkets inside.
We really hope you enjoyed getting to know Erin! You can find Erin's PP Profile here! so please do take a look around - we're certain you'll love her work as much as we do!