It’s not unusual for artists to draw inspiration from nature. Erik Abel of Abel Arts is no exception. But Erik’s strength lies in how he executes his vision. Erik’s artwork is so laid back (which is a stark contrast from his daily life).
Let’s take a look at the Abel Arts and the talent behind it all.
It All Started With a Quarter
Erik’s story began in middle school where he sold copies of his drawings to classmates for a quarter each. He would then go on to paint surfboards, illustrate a children’s book, start a mural business, and give tattoos from his kitchen.
Now living in a small beach town on the Oregon coast, he continues to create works of art. He has designed skateboard and snowboard graphics as well as logos and illustrations for several companies.
Today, Erik focuses more on projects that let him use his own style of painting.
In Touch With Nature
Every artist has his muse. With Erik, that will always be nature. As he puts it:
“Nature is the best teacher and best source of inspiration. I’ve never been interested in painting or drawing man-made stuff. I don’t like looking at it so I don’t paint it. Simple terms.”
If you browse through Abel Arts’ library, you’ll find how in touch with nature Erik’s artworks truly are. He even goes a step further and supports environmental nonprofits when he can. Every piece is an absolute pleasure to look at.
Quick-Fire Questions for Abel Arts
I envy people like Erik Abel. As you’ll see throughout the course of this interview, the man has a real love for what he does. Unfortunately, that’s not true for everyone. Life has its way of getting in the way of our passion.
Let’s get to know Erik a little more.
What’s your main goal as an artist? What do you hope to achieve?
“My ultimate goal as an artist is to have the freedom and time to truly explore my artistic whims and inspirations without the pressure or stress of having to make money from it.”
“Another goal that I continue to achieve is to be able to use my art to raise awareness and money for causes I believe in. I’ve collaborated with a lot of environmental nonprofits over the years but want to continue to do a lot more.”
What would a typical day be like for you?
“My typical day starts by dragging myself out of bed way too early to deal with my 1.5-year-old boy. He’s exhausting to live with and has easily cut my sleep and art production in half. I’m kinda going crazy. But he’s hilarious so we keep him around. :)”
“My wife and I juggle him in the mornings depending who has more to do. I usually do my emails and graphics projects in the first half of the day and then try to paint in the afternoon or evening when most stuff is off my plate and I can focus on the art.”
“We decided to only pack and ship orders once a week to help us stay sane. If the waves are good I’ll surf. I try not to paint late into the night anymore because that 5 or 6 AM wake up cry is very real… but I feel around midnight is always when the magic starts to happen… so I’m kinda missing out on that now.”
Walk us through your creative process. Do you have a vision right away or do you make it up as you go along?
“My paintings and my design/illustration work start in the same place, in my sketchbooks. It’s the fastest way for me to flesh out a lot of ideas at once and figure out what has legs or not.”
“I don’t fine-tune my sketches for paintings too much because part of the fun with painting is to just see what happens and work out some of the problems as you go along. Whenever I over-sketch and have all the colors worked out, the actual painting isn’t as much fun.”
What are some of the issues you come across while doing your art and how do you overcome them?
“Being a full-time artist is full of issues. Managing the business side of things is always difficult because it pulls you away from doing what you love in the studio. Luckily my wife helps out a lot with that stuff so I can focus on creating the work.”
“Another big issue is compromising your art. At this point, I consider myself a commercial artist… it’s the only way I can trick myself into being OK with sometimes creating art or design work that is for the market and not truly what I’d like to make.”
“I’ve been carving out bits of time to create for myself lately and it’s a really healthy outlet.”
Advice for Rookie Artists
Erik Abel has lots of practical advice for new artists. Notice the emphasis on Instagram. Times are changing and artists need to get on board with social media to help with exposure.
What advice can you give artists who are just starting out?
“I can’t even imagine starting my art career with apps like Instagram available. That would have been an amazing tool. It has proven very valuable to our business. Any artist starting out should put a lot of time and energy into creating a following on Instagram and sharing their work.”Put a lot of time and energy into creating a following on Instagram - Erik Abel, Abel Arts Click To Tweet
“The other advice I give young artists is this: try a lot of different mediums. Try a lot of styles. Find out what jives with you and develop a unique style from there. Make lots of work and don’t be afraid to show it. Put it out there. It will be crappy when you look back on it in a year or 2. Who cares. Email companies, meet with galleries, do free work that will get you exposure.”
“A big thing for me was being able to know my way around the computer and Adobe design programs. Graphic design work has been a gold mine for me and even with artists who don’t want to go down that computer design road and just want to focus on painting, you will be ahead of the game if you can edit your own art images, build and edit your own website, show cards, business cards, flyers, all that stuff.”Be ahead of the game. Edit your own art images. Business cards, flyers, all that stuff. Click To Tweet
Abel Arts and NextDayFlyers
We’re so happy to have worked with Erik Abel in printing his postcards. His designs looked amazing on postcards. I asked Erik what he uses his postcards for and his overall experience working with NextDayFlyers.
Your postcards turned out amazing. What do you use your postcards for?
“We have a few different uses for our postcards. I handwrite a thank you note on the back of them and include one in every order. It has all my contact info, website, and social media handles on it.”
“I can also use the same ones to place on tables at art shows or other little events.”
Erik Abel uses his postcards to write thank you notes.
How did you find your experience working with NextDayFlyers?
“NextDayFlyers is always great quality and great price. Super easy website interface and they have all the templates you need to get going.”NextDayFlyers is always great quality and great price. - Erik Abel, Abel Arts Click To Tweet
Is there anything you’d like to share with our readers?
“Thanks for reading. If you enjoy the art, drop me a line or say ‘hi’ on Instagram at @abelarts.”