Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Erin Sayer
Instagram: @esayer
Twitter: @MPLScultstatus

ERIN SAYER is an all-around creative. From running galleries to traveling the country painting murals, she is constantly engaged in artistic endeavors. Her latest projects include operating Cult Status Gallery, completing several local and national mural projects, painting theatre backdrops, and working on paintings based on Tom Robbins novels. Later this year, she is beginning a series of oil paintings based on the book ‘American Gods’ by author Neil Gaiman. She is a freelance curator, having curated over 100 art shows and events over the years. Sayer has owned three galleries since 1998, painted over 50 murals locally and around the US, and her paintings inhabit dozens of private and corporate collections. This spring she is a featured artist at Sasquatch! Music Festival, and will be painting murals in Seattle and at Les Schwab Amphitheatre in Bend, OR.  She is available on commission and is always up for a new travel adventure.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

Lately I’ve been working seasonally on outdoor murals when it’s warm, and oil paintings when it’s cold.  The past 4 years, I leave to paint murals in other parts of the country for 1-2 months.  It’s imperative to get out of town!  I had a solo show in Seattle last summer.  I’ve been working on a series of paintings based on Tom Robbins novels for around a decade (not continuously, of course).  They take a million hours each.  I like having the balance of working on giant spray paint murals that take a week, and little oil paintings that take months.  

My new work is different in many ways than pre 2010.  After spending a winter in San Francisco in 2012, I became enamoured with Chinese Brush Painting and am more focused on nailing brush strokes, color, and odd composition.  I have moved on from blatant pop art and iconography, and have discontinued using a projector/stencils.  Now everything is freehand with the occasional stencil for murals.  

How did you decide to become an artist?

I have basically always considered myself an artist.  But to really become an artist, one must work tirelessly for years and years, which is what I did.  I’m proud to say, excluding waitressing for 7 years while in school, all of my jobs have been in art in some way, be it working at Dick Blick, painting for the theatre/production companies, running galleries, teaching HS art.  It was all related and enabled me to gain vast amounts of knowledge over the years.  I’ve been a full-time artist/gallery person for 10 years now.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

Never give up.  There are so many times when I think, after I don’t sell anything at a show, or don’t have solid jobs lined up months in advance, that I should just get a ‘real’ job.  But inevitably, something comes up to keep me going.  The times when I’m scraping by are great motivation for expanding work, or actively seeking commissions and opportunities.  If I had quit at any point, I’d be justly unhappy, though maybe more secure.

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?

Yes that is a tough one.  I rely on large commissions, less on selling paintings.  But I have found that the more of myself I put into my paintings, the better they sell.  They have to be from the heart, people can see through art making as a commodity very easily, even if they don’t know much about art.  I see a lot of artists going for quantity, and selling for too cheap.  There has to be time, care, good presentation, and high quality for people to value your work as much as you do.  This involves pretty much every waking hour, backbreaking work, obsessive work, in order to achieve not only sales, but higher price point sales.  

The only marketing I do is throw up images on Instagram and Facebook, have a yearly/bi-yearly solo show if possible, and I make strong networking connections with other artists from around the country.  I believe artists should work together for a common cause: more art appreciation!

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

I hate this question because I have so many.  It is really hard to choose.  But lately, I’ve been really into artists who work their ever-loving a$$es off, who are constantly at it, doing new and interesting things.  Here are a few I really love seeing new work from on an almost daily basis:

Adam Swanson (from Duluth)
And everything Joan Vorderbruggen does.

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

I’d take you on a mural tour, first and foremost.  I love all the new public art that’s been happening the last few years.  We’d stop on by at Gamut Gallery to say hi to all the awesome people there, to Public Functionary (because I haven’t been there yet...I know, so lame, but I’m a hermit).  Yuya’s place (there are always about 5 creative types hanging out there, including all of his work), and then I’d take you to paint a dumpster in an alley in Uptown.

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

Pretty much Instagram and Facebook

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
in Minneapolis MN.  (1006 Marquette Ave A, Mpls, Mn 55403 from 4/4/15 - 5/7/15.  

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