Self-taught artist, Erika DaSilva, lives and works out of her NYC studio where she works mostly in gouache and watercolor. Inspired by her sommelier and restaurant background, Erika often uses food or the ingredients of a dish as subject matter, but her portraits and floral bouquets are equally as enchanting. We chatted with the artist about her creative process, her typical day and some of her favorite spots in the Lower East Side. To view more of her work, check out her website, Crown 9 Studios, as well as her Instagram.
What’s your background?
My mother is an artist, so I’ve had a pen or pencil in my hand pretty much since the day I could pick one up. A writer through most of schooling, a copyeditor post college, and later a sommelier in restaurants, I’ve always found that when I’m the most me, it’s when I’m making art. From doodling menus, sketching chalkboards, drawing food-centric maps for visitors, penciling vines and olive trees on the backs of bottles, getting it on paper has just made sense. Art for me is centering place, and when I’m painting, the hectic nature of the outside world goes quiet.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
It’s hard for me not to draw inspiration from everything I see, and hope I always feel that way. Books on typefaces and hand drawn fonts, graffiti, tropical flowers and Rousseau-esque jungle madness, strolls through New York City, shots of brightly colored interiors, fashion and food, vibrant fabric patterns, and pretty much every house in New Orleans.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Mia Christopher, Matias Prado, Laura Berger, Kaye Blegvad, Erin Lynn Welsh, Keith Shore, Clare Elsaesser, Anna Valdez and Monica Ramos. Each of these artists has such a whimsical, distinct style style and I am constantly in awe of their progress.
What’s your typical day like?
I’m up with my gent and our pup about 8. Coffee while I’m planning the day’s pieces and sketching the outlines of commissions at the moment, or what I’m inspired by for new illustrations and themes. I often work in sections on several pieces at once, and since I work from home , have the luxury of painting as soon as an idea strikes. My studio mate is a chocolate lab, so I try to take a long walk in the afternoon to recharge, then continue working until 6 or 7. I’ve often thought about the impact a shared studio space would have on my artistic growth, so a few nights running a small wine bar, Wildair, up the street are cherished people time. Working in restaurants gives you access to visitors of all backgrounds and across many creative industries. It’s been an incredible source of inspiration in my work, and surely why my illustrations are ingredient heavy, and lean towards portraits of the process of creativity itself.
What are some of your favorite neighborhood spots in the Lower East Side?
A bagel and chocolate covered almonds from Russ & Daughters, a beer at old-fashioned bar The Magician, coffee at El Rey, the gallery-lined streets and turn of the century architecture below Delancey Street, sidewalk markets in Chinatown.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Find your creative style no matter how long it takes and how often it shifts along the way.
Photography via Crown 9 Studios