Erik Ross is an Austin visual artist whose established style is comprised of abstract line work, free-flowing movement, and hard-line structure, illustrated with acrylics, aerosol, and various inks. His metaphorical portrait work is inspired by his awareness of the figurative masks worn in today’s society, and the unveiling of his own ever-changing “mask.” Since childhood, Ross’s passion for abstract pen line work or “doodles” has been ever-present. Evolving from his life experiences, Ross’s style has matured into various mediums, including large-scale murals, original canvas work, and custom wood cut-outs. Ross identifies painting as a therapeutic outlet that serves as an escape from life’s challenges.
1. What gets your motor running, artistically?
My friends, music, community and experiences. These all inspire me to continue to create and push myself out of my comfort zone.
2. Your work is fairly abstract, and yet it seems to connect with people in ways that abstract art sometimes doesn’t. What’s your secret?
I have no secrets. I just love to paint. It’s a space where I feel my most authentic self and can just be present. The fact that people are drawn to my work and want to have it in their homes always leaves me feeling extremely grateful and humble that people want [to own] an extension of myself through my art.
3. Your paintings have a lot to do with masks. Why?
I’ve drawn this certain character for years, and over time it has slowly morphed into this or that and has given me the doorway to a style that is uniquely mine. It’s similar to the “mask” we wear in our day-to-day lives. Each [mask] plays a vital part in one’s overall self.
4. You used to doodle a lotas a kid, and now you’re a professional artist. What would you say to doodlers who may have doubts about making art professionally?
Drawing is what laid the foundation for me to actually take my art into other mediums. Simply put, there is no shortcut. Draw, draw, and draw some more. Don’t be afraid to mess up. As for myself, it was a lack of resources that [forced] me to push my creativity and find my own voice within my work.
5. You’re a big proponent of art as therapy. How exactly does making art help us heal?
I can really only speak for myself. Art is a meditative outlet for me, and it brings me into the present moment. I’m not thinking of yesterday or tomorrow, I’m just simply with myself right then and there. Other times I’m with friends, painting and sharing that same experience with others. I can easily say that art has changed my life for the better and has guided me into a beautiful community that’s like no other, here in Austin.
6. Okay, here’s a philosophical one. Your art is about perspectives and individual consciousnesses. If everything we experience is filtered through perspective, is anything really true? Answer in five words or less (just kidding).
Truth is the light. And people’s perspective, you see, is the spectrum of this dispersed light.