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Abstract Artist Erin Friedman Says Relinquish Self-Doubt and Dive In

By Bethanie Hestermann

Erin Friedman of Erin Friedman Art creates captivating, abstract artwork that’ll make you feel things. By putting her thoughts and feelings on canvas, she’s bringing joy to others and adding beauty to the world. 

Erin encourages other creatives to dive in, allow themselves to get lost in their art, and embrace experimentation. Don’t let that self-doubt creep in!   

Tell us about your art!

I have always been captivated by the experience and process of creating. Using mixed media, my work is an accumulation of feelings and experiences with my environment that form organic colors and shapes that I interact with on canvas.

Have you always been a full-time artist?

I have always painted on the side, but I recently became a full-time artist. Before I made the leap, I was a graphic illustrator. I developed whimsical patterns while working for brands that include Warner Brothers, Mars Retail, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Smithsonian Institution, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

How has this year been transformative for you?

Whew. Where do I start? Covid-19 flipped my world around. Overnight, my children stopped attending school, and I stopped working. I did a lot of self-reflection about what I wanted to focus on in my life and what was most important, which brought me back to painting. I started producing art and sharing it. Each month I received more commissions, and I haven’t looked back. It’s been a life-changing period of time for me.

What is the best part about what you create?

I love totally immersing myself in a painting and getting lost in it while I create. It’s all I can focus on, and it’s a thrilling experience.

How do you stay inspired + avoid creative ruts?

If I’m feeling in a rut, I like trying something new and putting myself out there. Maybe that’s experimenting with a new medium, trying a new technique, or applying myself to something online like an online exhibition. This gets me out of my comfort zone and back in the game.

Favorite song(s) for boosting creativity?

I’ve been very into Fiona Apple’s new album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters”. Chris Robinson, Grateful Dead, and St. Vincent are also in regular rotation in my studio.

How does creativity bring goodness to your life?

It feels so vulnerable, but I love sharing and giving my art to others. The joy and emotions it brings to others really warms my heart. Also, we are living in such a heavy time right now. So adding something beautiful to the world and painting my experiences during this time feels impactful.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Since Kindergarten I wanted to be an artist.

What do people NOT know about what you do?

I still illustrate as a freelancer on the side. I am currently illustrating a digital curriculum for children by the University of Maryland, in collaboration with the Maryland State Dept. of Education and the Smithsonian that has been implemented in hundreds of classrooms across Maryland. The curriculum will be available for free to licensed childcare programs and public preschool teachers in Maryland, allowing access to high-quality early child education regardless of resources.

What made you decide to start painting?

I have spent my whole life painting as a hobby on the side. I keep going back to it, but when Covid-19 hit and everything stopped, painting just felt right to dive back into. It was unexpected, but maybe looking back, painting gave me some feeling of control during the initial chaos.

Where do you go when you need a break?

I love spending time with my three little boys. My family goes for long walks in the woods on the weekends, and it really resets all of us.

Let’s be real, what’s the hardest/most frustrating thing about what you do?

Self-doubt. No question. Sometimes it’s very easy to get into your head about what you’re doing and question your decisions.

What’s your advice for other creatives trying to find their way?

Just jump in and get started. It’s all about practicing, developing your style, and then practicing more.

Follow along with Erin on Instagram @erinfriedmanart and on her site erinfriedmanart.com.

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