Where did you you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist? Have you always been creative?
I grew up in Hastings, and I came back here when I graduated. It's an amazing place to live and I'm proud to live here. I'm lucky enough to know some pretty impressive people and have worked previously with Peter Quinnell and Cathy Simpson. Fay Moorhouse and Alma Haser also live here, but I haven't had the pleasure of working or meeting them.
I vividly remember my Mother having to get a table resurfaced because I'd ruined it with my pens, so I'd say that I have always been creative, but along the way other things have happened that have put being creative on the back burner.
When I was 15 I wasn't in school, I had a home tutor and had vague dreams of being a vet. One evening friends asked me if I wanted to visit the art college open evening to score free alcohol. While at the open evening I fell in love with the studios and the atmosphere and went home with a renewed purpose.
How did you develop your skills? Did you study art in school or are you self taught?
Due to wanting to be a vet back then, I didn't take art at school. I also hated my art teacher and found the constant life drawing and illustration restrictive and tiring. When I started college I completed the one year first diploma which is equivalent to GCSE's. I was offered a place on the National diploma (equivalent to a levels) but had made good friends on the first diploma so remained on that course. I then moved on to the National Diploma, after completing the first year I had a horrible break-up and knew that I had to get out of Hastings, so armed with a portfolio and a possible new relationship I went to Manchester where I interviewed to complete my National Diploma, except they told me I'd be better on a Foundation year, so I went to Staffordshire University to complete a Foundation year before doing my Degree in Fine Art.
I loved art school and I loved the studio environment and I love the people that were in my student cohort. I'm still in contact with many of them and I'm still so proud of them and our achievements.
Have your family and friends always been supportive in your artistic path, or has it been challenging for them to understand your choice?
I am blessed with amazingly supportive parents and friends. My Mother especially, has always drilled into me to do what makes me happy, and to find my path by working out what doesn't make me happy. I think my Dad wishes I were more proactive at times, but, that's life at times, isn't it? Most of my friends are artists too, Rebecca Snotflower and Rebeka Lord are two of my besties, and if my friends aren't artists, they're designers or musicians. In Hastings we rarely travel the conventional routes and that's what makes it all so special.
What was your strongest influence you had growing up ( artists, cartoons, films, comics, etc)?
I thought about this long and hard the other day. I've always been fascinated with stories, novels, fiction, people. When I was younger and first got the internet I fell in love with Post Secret and 1000 Journals. There was also, the sadly now defunct asofterworld. It's always been about people and our thoughts, feelings and experiences. Through out university, and especially in my last year I really focused on how our stories leave marks on our bodies and each other and researched into not just the moon landing but the Voyager Golden Record. I'm still as equally amazed by it all, especially social media and how we share parts of ourselves on the internet, and the online archives of our lives.
Do you have a routine when sitting down ready to get creative?
I don't have a routine, in so much as, I have ideas but sometimes it takes a day or two to get started. I work in end of life care and I work nights which really takes away from having a routine. Also, I struggle impressively with my work never living up to my expectations, which means that I spend a lot of time procrastinating. You know when I've got an idea because suddenly the flat is clean and I'm hiding under my bed.
What part of the creative process is the easiest, what part is the hardest and what part is the most fun?
The easiest is most definitely the doing, it's also the most fun. Getting lost in the process and the creation of something can't be beaten. The hardest is when it's completed and the what next. While studying at university I was taught to reflect and analyse my work and that is still ingrained in me. Once the artwork or project is complete there is the question of if it is good enough to exhibit, or what else could I do with it, how could I improve.
If the work is being exhibited then the fun starts all over again with trying to plan a show, and the logistics of hanging works.
I love a private view, but not when my work is in the show. When viewing my works with a critical eye that a private view lends I'm never completely happy and it's this that keeps me moving forward and hopefully improving.
Have you worked on any exciting projects in the past and are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I still think one of my favourite projects was a collaboration called The Lights Are On. We created a set and filled it with art and objects, but it was hard, the five of us involved were working with difficult themes of our own mental illnesses and in the end we disbanded. Working that closely with such personalities is difficult at the best of times and the finances and logistics of a touring show are hard going on the strongest of minds.
But I'd totally do it again.
Currently I have several strains that I'm working on, one is a zine, or two. I've had ideas for the past three years to publish them and I think I'm almost ready to take that leap of faith.
The other is a little more conceptual and confusing. I'm really fascinated in the idea of exhibitions and social media currently and so have tentatively started a project called The Discursive Gallery, it's about using social media and instagram and art, it's just difficult getting the word out and getting people excited and involved. The whole thing is based on plugins and hashtags and community.
Do you have a long-term career goal and what would your dream project be?
I'd love to make a living on fucking about on the internet with art. There's some really interesting things going on our there. I also want to get back in to curating. I've dipped my toe a few times and really enjoyed it, so there's definitely a strain of investigation there that I'd love to follow up with. I'm a big believer in community and art and art where you least expect it.
Would you prefer to work for a company or work as a freelancer? And why?
I think working for a company that allows me the freedom of freelancing would be best for me. While watching a program on prison life I thought how that'd be pretty useful as an artist, you have a structure, you have tasks and you have the time to explore interests. But then also there's the prison thing, and that might actually not be fun. Also, the not leaving thing.
What advice would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? What do you do to keep yourself creative and boost your imagination?
I recently wrote a blog post on this actually and had a conversation with a friend about art. I think people forget that creating good art is work, that we have to actively try to be inspired and to work through ideas even if we think they're a bit shit. It's working through these ideas that new (better) ideas come from. It's from the process that we think creatively about the body of work we're working on.
To say that as an artist we're always going to have inspiration dripping out our pores is a little romantic and a little naive. The old quote from Picasso that inspiration should find you working is very true. It's the stressors and everyday that feed into our imaginations and inspirations. So basically. Get out there and do it.
Do you have a favourite subject to draw? If so, what makes it so special?
There are many things that I want to capture, but if I'm drawing (or monoprinting) it has to be strong looking (often naked) women. Admittedly I need to look at finding more body shapes to draw but in drawing these women part of me thinks about how women are depicted by the media and how we all consume women's bodies and the stories behind the muscles that move and the mind that inhabits it.
Who are the artists that inspire you the most today? And why?
There's some amazing women out there doing some amazing things. As far as big name artists I'm always going to look at Jenny Holzer, Tracey Emin and Louise Bourgeois. These women have done so much for art and continue to do so. Bourgeois was a badass who was still exhibiting right up until her death, a force to be reckoned with.
There's also some super women on tumblr doing touching things with image and text that are very inspiring and encourage my thoughts and works (http://owlandowly.tumblr.com/tagged/aesquo, http://rem0rses.tumblr.com/, http://yourthoughtsspace.tumblr.com/tagged/thought )
Do you have something that you've designed that you are most proud of?
I'm not a designer, I'd class myself more as an arts practitioner (or jack of all trades, master of none), and in terms of being proud of my achievements, I'm not good at that either, but what I can tell you is I am working on making my blog something I am proud of. Quite often I've been far too embarrassed to say I even have a blog, let alone enjoy blogging, so the idea is to work on that so I am proud and then hopefully that'll seep into the rest of my life.
In terms of artworks, the one I've been most happy with in recent years has been You Never Bought Me Flowers So I Gave You A Garden, it's a very personal piece and the fact that it doesn't exist anymore means it's even dearer to me.
If you had to give 1 piece of advice to someone just getting started in the creative field, what would it be?
Do it. Do it and embrace it and learn and enjoy it. Yes it's hard work, but also, it can be pretty fucking beautiful too.
Finally, where can we find you and your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
So I have a blog/portfolio thing at erinveness.com
I do also have a very casual society6 shop but for everything else, it's in the works.
If, though, you do want a print of any of my drawings or photographs please do email me. :)