A young woman from California was sitting behind a table displaying exceptional stippling ink handmade cards at the 3e Christmas bazaar last weekend. She confirmed that she was the artist behind the work I was admiring: Erica J. Chen. Then, quite plainly, she told me that she also has a“day job” and only draws at night. I looked down at the detailed work in my hands and then looked up again at the frankness of her expression. This was my next thought: “Not for long!”
I didn’t buy her work that day, but I was so moved by it that I came home and looked her up. When an artist impresses me, I want to support them—especially if they’re local—but I’m not the most financially buffered artist in my own right, and I instinctively felt that the best thing I could do for this person was this:
Tell you about her.
No, even more importantly:
Show you her work!
When I went to her site, I expected the cute animals-with-attitude that I had found on her card selection. They are drawn with such personality that they seem to already be moving in the animated short film that will one day exist to support Erica’s work. But on her site, I also found three additional series that were equally animated in their own ways.
One was a collection of drawings based on human organs. I love their thoughtful designs, the way they jump off the screen, and the idea of taking something so dry and scientific and giving it life through ink–life outside of the body in which it belongs.
Another was a series on kitchen utensils. I don’t think I’ve ever taken time to notice the shape of a spatula until Erica’s work caught my attention.
The third was a series of female faces in various elaborate headdresses. This was my absolute favorite collection. The subtlety and sensitivity of each facial contour will have you staring into these sets of unknown eyes wondering if they might not be photographs after all.
If you don’t know who Erica is, you should. And then you should commission her for a piece to hang in your home before none of us can afford to do so.
Photos: Erica J. Chen