This week I interview the multi-talented Erica Putis. She is a renaissance woman, producing an impressive amount of diverse work. She was able to break away from her many responsibilities to spend some time to chat online.
Brian Baxter, Art Guide San Diego: Hi Erica, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day!
Erica Putis: Thanks for having me!
AGSD: I know you are an artist of many mediums, sculptor, gallery curator, musician, clothing designer, skincare alchemist, makeup artist… All of this must keep you quite busy!
E.P.: That list sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Haha… Well, I like to keep creatively busy. I find it hard to limit myself to one area which I think confuses some people because they don’t know exactly what I do, but I can’t help it. There are just so many cool things to make! My bucket list is super long and I keep adding new projects. I’m going to have to live to 120 years to complete it!
AGSD: Or maybe clone you!
E.P.: Haha… That would work too!
AGSD: You recently became a gallery curator. How has that experience been?
E.P.: Yes, last year I became the curator for La Playa Gallery in La Jolla Shores. I have put on many events in the past but this was my first time working for a small gallery and I have to say I love it. It’s great because I feel like I can really make a difference in the art community in San Diego. The gallery owners are really letting me use my instinct for selecting local artists and putting on shows that are cohesive and exciting. I try to switch up the styles of art so that people keep coming back to each show. I want La Playa Gallery to be associated with quality not a particular style because art is so subjective and everyone has certain likes and dislikes.
Part of the reason I think they hired me is because I am an artist myself and it brings a different perspective to the position. I have the opportunity to give new artists a chance to show with more established artists. It’s not about who you know or how popular you are… to me, it’s about amazing art and bringing this amazing art to the public. I put on a new show every three months or so and that keeps me very busy since I manage the gallery as well. We have rotating art, sculptures and jewelry all year round which keeps it fresh and fun to visit even during regular business hours which are M-F 10-5pm, but the shows are the best… lots of fun people, great art and wine & cheese. What more could anyone ask for? Haha…
AGSD: Your show openings are fun and well attended. Where do you find the inspiration on what to show?
E.P.: Thanks! I get inspired by so many things but I do try to have a theme. Often the artists I follow and know inspire a new show. I like to incorporate no more than 3 or 4 artists in each exhibit so that each person gets to show a good selection of their work. As an artist, I find when I do a show with more than one of my pieces it is much more satisfying. As long as I get the go ahead from gallery owners on the artists picked, I start to book the show and get the ball rolling. It’s challenging at times but very rewarding.
AGSD: Speaking of showing your work, what are you working on now for your own artistic expression?
E.P.: Oh man… There are so many things I’m working on right now. It’s so exciting!
Well, first off I have started collaborating with Michael Cooley. He is a master craftsman, woodworker and sculptor. He is creating wood carvings/sculptures and I am painting them. Michael is also teaching me the ins and outs of building custom furniture, kitchens and restoration. Everything we make will be found on Timewilltelldesigns.com. I’m still working on the website but I’m excited to collaborate with someone so talented.
I am still painting on my own as well. I am in the middle of many different series and eventually try create 5 or more pieces for each one. I work in acrylics, oils and pen and I am mostly inspired by nature and science. I try not to set any strict rules for myself though. Most of my paintings can be found on Ericaputisart.com. I am learning more about clay right now – throwing it and also free hand sculpting with it. Super fun.
I’m also super excited about my skincare line. It started one day a few years ago when I looked up a recipe for natural lip balm. I was blown away and became slightly obsessed with different flavors and products. Being a makeup artist I loved that I could create my own products, naturally and safely. I have created lip balms, perfume oil, cuticle oil, candles and incense. I am always trying new new things and eventually want to create makeup, soap and other products. That website is Nuclearmakeup.com
There are just so many beautiful things that I want to see or create that it’s a little overwhelming.
The sister site to that is my clothing company, Nuclearclothing.com. I have taken a break from runway shows but I am still sewing and making tons of jewelry, some of which are at La Playa Gallery. I love wire wrapping natural rocks and crystals, along with beads. Someday I will learn how to silversmith. Bucket list!!
Many people know me as a musician… I almost went to college for art but decided to go for music and theater. About 10 years ago my band and I moved to San Diego. At one point I was in three bands at the same time! It was fun but needed a change so I picked up my paint brush again and started on a new chapter of art. I haven’t stopped singing though. I still record and produce my own music and even make music videos for fun. That site is Julicadann.com.
Lastly, as a new venture, I have started writing books! I finished my first one last year and I am in the process of illustrating, publishing and recording the audio book for it. It’s a young adult book about finding magic… Who doesn’t want a bit of magic in their lives? It was a real eye opening and exciting experience. So much so, I have started my second book! I don’t have a website for this yet but will make one soon.
That’s a lot of websites, huh? Or you can just go to Ericaputis.com and they are all linked there. I can’t help it that I like to do so many different things! Too many fun things to do with not enough time!
AGSD: I didn’t see anything about sleep, so I’ll assume that is how you have enough time to do everything.
E.P.: Haha… I actually do sleep. I’m at my best with 7 hours. And I’ve been know to veg out and watch TV too!
AGSD: Is there a thread that goes through all your work? Like certain music inspiring art, which inspires clothing, etc.
E.P.: Not really… I am kind of random with what inspires me. There are just so many beautiful things that I want to see or create that it’s a little overwhelming. Not the projects but the time I have to do it. Humans have such short lifespans. I just hope I can fill mine as full as possible with as many awesome things as possible. I am teaching an art class at Westly Palms retirement center right now and that is one thing my lovely older students have taught me. They have so much wisdom and have experienced many things. I hope when I look back on my life I can say the same.
AGSD: You said you moved to San Diego with your band. Where are you from, and have you always been inspired to get so much accomplished?
E.P.: I grew up in Vermont and went to college in Massachusetts. When I was a musician I still had to work a full time job but I was always writing, practicing, recording and doing all of the back end work for the band I moved here with, The Predicates. I still did a lot of work for the bands I joined after, Recordable Colors and The Mashtis, but was more of a back up singer and bass player. I enjoyed not having so much responsibility since I was working on building my clothing company. So I guess I have always been creating. Even as a kid I used to make stuff and try to sell it to my fellow 3rd graders.
My Mom is a huge inspiration. She has started several successful business starting in the 70’s, during a time when it was looked down upon to be a woman as a business owner. As I kid I didn’t realize this. I always said I would never own my own business because she worked all of the time and when you are a kid, work does not equal fun. But wouldn’t you know it, when I grew up the only thing I wanted to do was work for myself and when you are passionate about something like that, it doesn’t always feel like work. It feels fun and productive. And I like being productive… as you can see. So I guess both of my parents instilled a certain level of productiveness that I still try to uphold today.
AGSD: Do you have any shows coming up that you want to share with us?
E.P.: Sure! I’m not personally showing anywhere right now but the current show at La Playa Gallery called “Abstract Shapes in Metal and Multimedia” is having an Art Talk on Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 from 12 – 3 pm, where people can talk to our talented featured artists, Jon Koehler, Brittni Cute and Leah Pantea and enjoy some coffee and cookies.
The next show I’m curating for La Playa Gallery is on Friday, March 24, 2017 from 5 – 8 pm. It’s called “Fabricating a Dream” and will be exhibiting three fantastic artists: Cheryl Tall, Cathy Carey and Jason Humphrey. There will be cool art to see and wine and cheese for your taste buds. Both events should be fun!
AGSD: Sounds like fun. I hope people mark their calendars. Is there anything I missed that you would like to talk about?
E.P.: I don’t think so! Thank you so much for inviting me to talk. It’s been an honor and it’s so great what you are doing with your site. The San Diego art scene really needs the support and you are doing a fantastic job!
AGSD: Thanks Erica! Great talking to you. I’ll see you at the gallery.
E.P.: Looking forward to it and thanks again!
February 11, 2016
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