April 16, 2014.
My friend Luis Berros aka STYLE from MSG & VO5 called me recently and invited me down to the HISTORY MIAMI Museum. He had been asked to paint a mural inside the museum for an upcoming show. So I went down there to check it out. It was a total bee-hive of activity. There were over a dozen local artists there at that moment engrossed in their pieces for SOME LIKE IT HOT curated by Brandon Opalka aka HEST of MSG.
It was great to see all this talent working side by side. While there and documenting the scene I got to speak with a young lady named Erin O'Dea. Erin was painting a piece of Trick Daddy the local bad boy rapper. Erin is just covered in tattoos and is a Wes Anderson fanatic she even has a Bill Murray tattoo from The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou. Erin was telling me that she had been teaching art in a Montessori school in addition she tattoos professionally and is constantly creating art whether it's on canvas, skin or walls.
What do you write? Are you in a crew?
I don’t write, I’m not in a crew, but on art you’ll most likely see my last name - ODEA.
In what city did you start painting in the streets? Do you feel your work has influenced the community in return? If so, how? Is there a relationship between the artist and the community in which they work?
I have been painting for as long as I can remember on canvas, but I have just begun to start painting on walls. I did a Margot Tenenbaum in the Cushy Gigs office after doing an art show there a few years ago, and try to get involved with any projects they have when I can bust out the brushes.
Did you go to school or are you self taught?
I think it is a little bit of both, I took years worth of independent study classes in college with guidance from some amazing professors. Instead of moving through all the proper formal training in technique they helped me further develop things I was already doing, which at the time were very graphic images incorporating printmaking and silkscreening. My artwork has changed a lot since then, which has really been as a result of my own development, new interests and influences around me.
How did you get started in the arts and why?
I started to really get interested in painting in the 7th grade. I painted a triptych of an orca whale for a contest in school. I won second place and was really stoked because I love Killer Whales (FOR REAL) and I love winning. I kicked it into high gear in high school and never stopped. I think I needed to create things to survive. It was a healthy way to deal with shit growing up and helped me stay sane. I’m not really communicating literally with the imagery, just working out things in my head or taking a break from everything while I paint.
How long have you been working in the streets?
(that’s what he said) Not long, I’m trying to pull myself away from work to spend more time painting outside.
Who or What inspires you the most?
I’m inspired by people who overcome shit and keep going. People who work hard and make their passion a driving force in their lives. Some of the artists in this show really inspire me to be better and encourage me with my artwork and in my life, which is really priceless. Quake(MSG) has been a huge inspiration for me since I met him, he’s pushed me to work harder and develop my art, taking me out of my comfort zone and believing in me, which I can’t thank him enough for. Being a part of things like this show are so amazing for me, I always walk away from these projects feeling inspired. Brandon Opalka(HEST) really put together a show with some truly amazing artists that I was more than excited to work alongside.
What should the general public know about street art? What stereotype about street art/graffiti do you hate the most?
The only stereotype I hate about graffiti is the super hoodlum character that some people assume all writers are. Some of the most supportive, smart and rad dudes are painting walls and trains while still taking their kids to do fun shit. They’re sticking by their friends and doing amazing artwork on the regular. I don’t do graffiti, but I constantly am in awe of the caliber of work these guys are producing, it’s awesome.
Are you a full time artist? Do you have a day job? Is it best to be full time artist or not worry about it and make your $$$ elsewhere, that way you can paint what and how you want, which one offers a more creative outlook?
This is a funny question because I have been working a steady corporate job and also tattooing and painting for a few years. I finally gave up my comfy secure paycheck to focus on tattooing and painting this past January. I had reservations about giving up the security of the job, but trying to balance my artistic goals and work became impossible, and as it turns out. No one is superhuman and can work 80+ hours a week for years on end. I started to burn out and decided I had to do one or the other. Best decision I ever made. I’m improving quicker, turning out better quality artwork and taking more opportunities I couldn’t have before when I was punching that clock.
What are you working on now?
I just finished up a painting of Biggie Smalls as a Saint of the Hustle, I’ve been experimenting with spray paint gradients in the backgrounds to make patterns. I have been focusing on tattoo flash as of lately. I’m always working on a ton of different things, I’m really never bored.
What do you hope to achieve or accomplish by putting your work in the street?
Moving my work from large canvases to the street is a huge challenge, but I’m hoping for two things - to have my work available to see outside to a large audience and too get a good work out for the ass and legs from climbing ladders and scaffolding.
Now that you are a part of the SOME LIKE IT HOT! exhibition at the HISTORY MIAMI Museum how does that change your perspective on street art and muralism? Do you think the communities perception of street art is changing?
The pressure was definitely on to step it up on this mural, I chose a tough wall with a recession in it that was almost like a cubby hole, but I went for it and was constantly inspired by friends and artists working in the room, all of whom are representing Miami in their own way and bringing it to a History Museum really legitimizes it as a fine art. It says that the perception of street art has come a long way and murals are gaining a new respect. I had so much fun with this project and it has made mural painting a goal of mine, to take on more walls!
Thanks, check out more of Erin's work http://erinodea.com/