Sit Down With Our October '22 Featured Artist

Erikas Chesonis

Instagram / erik_as_erik
Featured Artist / October '22 ScrawlrBox 

A graphic designer and illustrator living in Austin, TX by way of upstate New York. Often inspired by nature, he uses limited palettes, simple shapes and a bit of abstraction to bring his art to life, digitally or with paint pens.

“I often like to draw things from nature, especially birds. I just love the geometry in their design and all the variations they come in. And with this funky palette, I felt free to create my own take on a bird of prey and its fresh catch, without trying to represent a certain species. I like to build subjects and detail them with simple shapes and consistent angles, and find colors I think pair well together and consistently use them together too (like blue on black, purple on pink). I’ll usually try to repeat certain patterns throughout and throw in a border to bring it all together.”

What do you love most about what you do?

Getting to create something every day. Even if it’s just sketching out a rough idea for ten minutes to add to my ever-growing library of unfinished pieces, turning a blank page into something that didn’t exist before is always satisfying. I’m lucky enough to essentially play for a living, which I know my 5-year old self would be pretty psyched about.

What is the most difficult part of being an artist?

It’s cliché, but every artist deals with self doubt and imposter syndrome. Being creative isn’t just a switch you can turn on and off for set times, and some days you just don’t have it, nothing seems to work and you get down on yourself. But pushing through that discomfort and knowing that there really are no mistakes when you’re making stuff up and having fun helps me think, “alright, I can do this!” And if I can’t, well, there’s always tomorrow!

What is it you like about working with paint pens?

I’ve long done the majority of my workas a designer digitally, with vectors and software and such. But after working from home in front of a computer for so long,I wanted to be able to create away from screens. So I picked some paint pens up, and just love how I can apply my usual simple shapes and vector style to paper with them. I don’t need to fuss about with paint strokes, charcoal shading, or other traditional techniques - I can just pack in a bunch of color and finely control where the paint goes, unlike a brush. They require me to really limit my color palettes with only a few options available, and creativity often shines when you’re restricted in some way. Plus, they’re super opaque, so I can easily cover up mistakes, which happens often when I’m so used to having an undo button.

What other supplies doyou think pair well with paint pens?

I usually just stick to various nib sizes, but you could also use a fine point pen if you want some more details. They can also be used alongside watercolors or other acrylic paints, if you want a bit more control over your paint. Rulers and shape stencils are great to use with them if you’re looking for perfectly cleanlines.

Is there a type of work surface you find yourself drawn to?

I like small canvases because I can quickly fillthe area and they paint layers pretty well.Bristol paper also works great to avoid the paint clumping up, as it’s prone to do on more textured papers. The great thing about paint pens is you can use them on so many surfaces. Sometimes I’ll just pick up a nice flat rock on a walk and graffiti some art on it for my yard (and they make neat dinner place mat decorations!).

Do you have any other hobbies or pastimes that you enjoy?

Yelling at my favourite sports teams when they’re not playing well, taking a break outside to spot some birds with my duck-tolling retriever Sam, gobbling up any nerdy streaming content, and poorly dancing at live music shows in Austin. 

Why do you feel you are drawn to apastel palette?

I like using simple shapes and limited palettesto create work that’s only loosely realistic. By using colors you wouldn’t typically associate with a subject, you have a bit more freedom to be creative and not be hindered by realism. With art you can create everything that does exist, and everything that doesn’t. A purple kangaroo with a pink joey? Go for it!

Do you have any projects planned that you are particularly excited about? 

I do, but I can’t share them quite yet!

Are there any artists that you look up to?

Tons. Much of my day is (a bit too much) spent scrolling through Instagram admiring the work of other artists and designers. I love a lot of work from mid-century illustrators, like Tom Eckersley, Mary Blair, and Alain Grée, who used fun colors and interesting compositions to create such whimsical pieces.

Do you listen to podcasts or music while you work? If so what are your favourites?

A lot of indie pop and electronic stuff. If it has a synth, I’m here for it. Synthwave is great whileI work, it helps me zone out and pretend to be Ryan Gosling in Drive while in pyjamas drawing a cartoon bird. 80’s jams and the entire Killers discography get plenty of playtime too.

Is your work available for purchase? If so, where from?

I sell prints, stickers, and some commissions and canvas paintings on my Etsy shop right now,, with hopefully more stuff on the way!

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