Where? NYC to Toronto via email
When? Forever ago…well, early 2009.
Toronto-based graffiti artist EGR caught my attention a long time ago. When I started my PhD program, and picked right back up interviewing writers, she was one of the first women I contacted. Even though we only had a brief email exchange, I’ve kept up with her work. Her characters captivate me, and let’s be real—I have a soft spot for fairies and other winged beings…so I can’t get enough of her aesthetic. EGR has a solo show at the Mark Christopher Gallery right now (!) called “We are Nature” so I thought I’d dig up her old interview. I meant to get this up sooner, but we had a Hurricane here in NYC and life got crazy for a bit…so here it is. If you are in the Toronto area in the next 7 days, you have exactly ONE WEEK left to see her show live and direct. [Click here to go to a recent interview about the show].
So here is a quickie, a flashback interview with the lovely and ambitious EGR…
What’s your tag and how did you come up with it? EGR- describes my ambition. Used to write Eager then abbreviated it.
What’s your 9-5? Artist/Illustrator/Muralist
How would you describe your style? EGRism
How long have you been writing and how did you get started? Since ’96. I got into it after a high school friend showed me his ‘work’ in my hometown along the train tracks. At the time I was experimenting with so many new artistic mediums, it seemed only natural. I was instantly hooked.
Graffiti is often spoken about through and alongside hip hop. Do you feel like a member of the hip hop nation through your involvement with graffiti? I feel like a member of the hip hop community through my live painting experiences at hip hop events, and also because Graffiti art is one of the elements of hip hop. That’s one of the things I love about hip hop.
How would you characterize a “hip hop aesthetic”? Fluid and bright, fresh or old school, with a reference to music, and the elements of hip hop. Do you think your graffiti reflects, represents or retools your identity in any way? How so? My art is a reflection of my thoughts and experience, and my graffiti is an extension of my art. They are inevitably linked.
^^EGR progress shot by John Lee at ReSurface event, Toronto^^
Is graffiti about resistance? If so, what are you resisting and how do you know when you are successful? Graffiti resists conformity, to me. I don’t necessarily think success can be achieved through non-conformity, depending on how you would define success. I think it’s about the process, the message, and feeling like you’ve accomplished getting your message across. It’s about communicating.
Does your graffiti take on a message, or is it primarily about style and recognition-or both? My work is often concept based; I hope to incorporate positive imagery in my work.
Does location affect your choice of theme/character or topic? If so, how? Graf is often about freestyling and vibing off your environment and/or situation. Its making something out of nothing, and using what you’ve got.
Are the effects of globalization being felt, translated and/or responded to through your work at all? Yes. [I bet if she were to answer this question today, she would have a lot to say…see her blurb about the “we are nature” show and you’ll see what I mean.]
BIO: Erica Gosich Rose aka EGR, grew up in Burlington; a quiet suburban city just a train ride away from Toronto, Canada. Her fascination with street art intensified while traveling to and from Sheridan College for Interpretive Illustration; the aesthetics and concepts of which are still featured prominently in her work today. EGR’s works can be found on crumbling city walls and in pristine art galleries, from fine art to murals, illustration and even live art. Part of EGR’s appeal is her ability to bridge art, design and functional purpose. She is just as comfortable with traditional oil paints and brushes as she is wielding aerosol spraycans—in locales as far as Australia and even Florence, Italy. Pop culture and social references abound in the work of EGR, though the female perspective is a recurring staple. As women are still a minority in the boys’ club of urban art, many consider her a pioneer in the street art world.
“We are Nature” Press Release: