by Daryle Dickens
I met Erik while on the Fort Collins MOCA Studio Tour. He was sitting on the floor working on his latest piece and there was a tall paper mache statue of a head next to him. And after talking to him for a bit and taking a look around his space, I knew he was someone I wanted to introduce to you kind reader. So well the kids on the floor below us screamed we had a good talk one afternoon. About art, about Fort Collins, about life.
ZAF622: It can be hard to be accepted as an artist.
Erik Greer: That was definitely something I dealt with growing up. I didn’t pursue art for a long time because people were so conservative about it here. People would tell me, "you are really good at what you do, but you will never be able to make a living with your artwork. You'll never sell the stuff that you are creating." And at first I believed them. But then I realized, they really don't know if something will sell or not, or if people will like my work. So I had to take a risk and give it a shot because you can't sit around and wait from someone to discover your stuff. You have to take responsibility for presenting your work. It has only been fairly recently, like around 2002, that I started getting around town and showing. And it wasn't until this year that I started to get really serious about it.
ZAF: How has it been as an artist and selling your work?
EG: The funny thing about marketing art is that you never know when you're going to make a connection with somebody. You never know when the networking is going to pay off. And no artist can tell another artist how to become successful, because it is so different for each of us. So you have to look at everything like an opportunity, and take advantage of it.
ZAF: So have you been painting all your life?
EG: I've been drawing all my life. I'll tell you a funny story. I was born in Loveland and pretty much grew up drawing all the time. As a kid, I remember drawing the animals off of the animal cracker boxes, that sort of thing. Drawing anything, that was my hobby, my passion. I gave it up for a little while when I had kids. I have two daughters and they took my attention away from my artwork for some time. I put family and career first and let everything else go on the back burner (rightfully so, I might add). I continued to draw sporadically until about 2002 when I broke one of my legs playing on a scooter with the kids. That got me back into art mode because I ended up doing a lot of sitting around. I picked up a set of water colors and started water coloring and realized I loved it. I had never painted before. And so I started painting until I got fairly proficient with the water colors. Then I moved to oils and taught myself to oil paint. I thought about taking some classes but I am extremely satisfied with my own method.
ZAF: Where do you get your ideas for your work?
EG: I keep a sketch book around all the time, and a lot of times I just scribble whether I have an idea or not. Often times that's all it takes to get "in the mood" and open up an idea and provide a path for something new.
ZAF: Do you focus on one piece of work at a time or do you have multiple projects going?
EG: Primarily I just work on one piece. But if I am waiting on a layer of oil to dry on a piece, I will start another one. I'll just start laying down colors so I have a dry surface when I'm ready to start another one.
ZAF: Do you always finish a piece once you start it?
EG: There are very few pieces I don't. Because when I start a piece, and I know I am going to invest the time into it, I have to know I have a good idea. I think I have maybe three pieces in my history that I have not finished. That is a pretty good record!
ZAF: Where do you display your art?
EG: A lot of the local merchants are very open to have artwork in their place. The first local show I did was at Coopersmiths. Jane is just super cool. I went into hang one morning and she basically took it off my hands because she loves art and has so much energy. She was the first local person that I showed a portfolio to, who was excited about what I had going. That was a real shot in the arm for me because I would say that you get rejected 3 out of 4 times when you talk to people.
Do you listen to music while you paint?
EG: Yes, all the time. I listen to a lot of Beatles with some Hendrix, Mozart, and Beethoven thrown in. I listen to a little bit of everything. Music is definitely a big part of my work.
EG: Immediately I am trying to get my stuff out of state. As far as locally, I will be concentrating on showing my stuff at the Poudre Arts Center where my studio is. Ultimately though I am going to take it as far as I can go. I foresee myself making a great living at it. Without sounding too cliché, I intend to be famous.
ZAF: Where do you find your support?
EG: I have, without exaggerating, the most wonderful wife on the planet. She supports me in everything I do. She is so positive. It is cool to be able to spend every day in the studio and go home to her positive attitude! I also get a lot of support from my friends. In addition, my two daughters are very supportive of my choices. Amelia Caruso, fellow artist and friend, has been unbelievably helpful and supportive. Another friend of mine, Alisa Raines, has a studio next door to me here at the Poudre River Arts Center. Her and I act as cheerleaders for each others efforts, and we bounce a lot of ideas off of each other. The gentleman I share this studio space with, Adrian Davis, I can honestly say I would not be here right now if it was not for his input and assistance. There are some other people, Barbara Moore, she has been an unbelievably huge support. From the beginning, I feel like she has taken me under her wing and helped me along. You have to have other people's support, other people to believe in what you're doing.