Story by: Lisa Marie Corso
Photographer: Amelia Stanwix
Katie Eraser is one of those people you become instant friends with in under 60 seconds. She is interesting, inquisitive and as colourful as her paintings. Stepping inside her East Brunswick home, she instantly leads us to her kitchen where she’s visited the local bakery and curated a delicious spread of treats for all dietary requirements – she’s considered and thoughtful. Katie approaches her art with the same generosity, it’s playful and lays all to bare for everyone to see. She doesn’t hide behind the canvas, resulting in works that are evocative and invite people to connect.
Katie’s coveted paintings and sculptures usually find their way into people’s homes via the wall in the living room but now are ready-to-wear with our latest Gorman artist collaboration. This limited series capsule collection of wearable art has transformed Katie’s paintings into textiles, and who better to model the range and tells us about the collection than Katie herself? The answer: No one.
Katie wears: Snug Succour Agnes Dress (shop)
Hey Katie! Your home is full of art you have made but do you recall one of the earliest works you made that led you down the artist path?
I actually still remember drawing a self-portrait in kinder. I drew a round circle for my body and for my head and then had stick legs and arms, and drew the letter ‘E’ for my hands – so I only had three fingers. I can still remember thinking how easy and fun drawing was, something about it felt really natural and enjoyable.
From this original illustrated selfie did you follow your interest in art for the rest of school and then once you left?
Art was a super keen interest of mine all through primary and high school – I was always making it. But when I was nearing the end of high school I kind of had this conundrum about how I could turn my love of art into a career and into a job. So I left school and did a degree in graphic design but kept returning to art in my spare time. I’ve never formally studied art but it’s something I do that feels nice and nourishing.
So your experience making art as an adult originally emerged as a side hustle?
The art thing has always been a side hustle but then emerged into something more. I work as a graphic designer and would always do art around work whenever I had free time – there was always that pull to come back to it.
And how did you eventually transition from someone who made art on the side to an exhibiting artist with a fully fledged practice?
I had the opportunity to have a studio in Sydney and it felt really good to be in the motion of making art and painting all the time. The studio allowed me a designated space and routine to take my art more seriously and I started dabbling in group shows. I took a small break from painting when I moved to Melbourne but eventually got back into it again – this time with full force. I started making works on canvas and feeling the flow and inspiration that allows me to keep painting for weeks at a time and it felt really good. I soon had a collection of work and asked a friend where I should submit my work and she suggested Boom Gallery in Geelong. I had my first solo show with them eight months after I started painting again. It happened very quickly, it was amazing.
Is this the show where a Mexican art collector bought nearly the entire exhibition?
Yes! This incredible collector contacted me about my exhibition and said he wanted to buy nearly all of the works. To be honest I thought I was being punk’d.
Except Ashton Kutcher never came out and you knew it was a legit offer?
Yes! I couldn’t believe it. That body of work now lives in France and Mexico – it’s surreal to think about where your work ends up.
Besides your paintings you also make bold, colourful sculptures – how do these connect with your paintings?
Each sculpture uses direct shapes from my paintings which are laser cut and then assembled together. They are designed to sit with their corresponding painting, so it seems like the shapes have fallen out of the painting and formed something else.
And how does it feel seeing your art outside of the gallery and people’s homes and instead being worn with the latest Gorman artist collaboration?
Honestly, it’s so fun! I’ve seen people wearing my Gorman range on the streets but have been a bit too shy to say “you’re wearing my art!”. I’ve always been super interested in turning my work into textiles and was pumped to see how my work would be interpreted. I was honestly in awe, the textile team are like little magicians – sometimes they merged two paintings together, other times they swapped a colour – things I would never think to do but still feel and look super natural.
You’re also an art mentor for Queerspace Youth – can you tell us about this?
The program was born out of an investigation into why mental health among the queer community can be so poor, so this space was set up to connect the queer community and share skills in the hopes of improving mental health and kind of act as that buffer for people wanting to access mental health services and sometimes having to wait months to get them. As an art mentor I do art workshops, share skills, make art with mentees and help with folio building and interview preparations for getting into tertiary courses – I love it.
Katie wears: Next Naked Pantsuit (shop)
What’s a podcast you recently listened to?
I listen to so many! I think ‘Invisbilia’ is my favourite but another favourite is called ‘Where Should We Begin?’ by this amazing psychotherapist Esther Perel. Each episode is a couple’s counselling session with a real couple – she really unpacks stuff and helps people have real conversations about their relationships. It’s fascinating.
And a TV show you recently binged?
‘Rhythm + Flow’ on Netflix. It’s a reality TV show about trying to find the next hip hop star and Cardi B is one of the hosts – so it ticks off so many of my favourite things. I love that Cardi B is herself and not bothered by the cameras and spotlight, she’s always been so real and I feel empowered when I see someone else do that.
You spend a lot of long days in the studio painting – what’s the 3pm snack that gets you through?
My partner Jay’s protein balls. They are the best and the flavour combo changes every week, sometimes it’s coconut turmeric, sometimes it’s chocolate with cacao nib and sometimes they’re oat based. They’re so good.
And lastly, how would you describe Gorman to a friend?
Iconic has to be the first word, then bold, bright, colourful, quirky and playful. I think it’s also important that its female led by an amazing woman.