We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Catherine Fulp and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica Catherine, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Most creative people will tell you their journey started when they were young, they’ve always been creative and love to create. For me this also holds true, however I feel that keeping that passion alive past childhood is the key. Like most artists and makers, I have the same answer when asked “When did you start creating?” I always have for as long as I can remember. While I started young through the love and support of my parents, my journey through adolescence is what solidified my love for art. This love for art is what would guide me to pursue my creative career later in life.
In my childhood I was fortunate enough to grow up with parents who fully supported my love of the arts. My mom is an interior designer who also followed her dreams into the creative world. She always has both feet in when it came to any craft projects and has a real, unshakeable excitement for making. My dad always believed in learning how to overcome any problem set before him, from cars, to electrical work, to wood working and he’s always taken pride in hard work and perseverance. I didn’t know it at the time but those equal levels of precision and creativity from my parents would highly influence the type of artwork I would make in my career.
In my elementary school years, I had an accident that caused what seemed like a sprained ankle but wasn’t. I had partially torn a tendon in my left ankle and found out I had an “accessory navicular”. That meant I had an extra bone in my foot. Normally this bone fuses in childhood but with genetics, trauma, or other factors sometimes it doesn’t. For most it’s non-symptomatic but for me, that wasn’t the case. It caused extreme pain and I would spend the better part of my elementary and middle school days unable to run and enjoy normal childhood activities. From fifth through eighth grade I experienced two surgeries and nine casts to help correct the problem. Luckily the procedures and patience paid off and as an adult I am able to hike, garden, walk, and just enjoy life. I found comfort in those difficult years through my artwork, and poured my passion into the craft.
When you’re mostly house bound you turn to things that keep you busy. I always loved to draw, and my sketchbook quickly multiplied; drawings and designs began flowing endlessly across my desk. Stacks of art supplies and hours spent drawing were now my routine. This time alone with my creativity propelled me through the rough waters of adolescence and into high school. When it was time to apply for our local visual and performing arts high school I decided to apply for what truly made me happy, art. At the time I also played flute and violin but instead of applying for the more sure path of music where my chances of getting in were higher, I went out on a limb with the loving support of my parents and applied for visual arts. The day came when I got accepted and couldn’t wait to start my journey into the creative field. The next four years at Savannah Arts Academy were truly eye opening. I was surrounded by wonderful, passionate artists day in and out and it gave me the confidence to grow in my chosen path. I grew tremendously those four years and have amazing teachers to thank for their love and support. With pencil in hand, I applied and was accepted to Savannah College of Art and Design.
Drawing was my passion and I knew I wanted most of all to spend my life in that creative field. Illustration called to me and became my major and main focus. During my college path I would learn, explore, experiment, and evolve as an artist even more. With the amazing guidance of my professors I would land in a field called art licensing. It was such an eye opener when I was told I could create beautiful work that can be put on anything, and I mean anything! As I moved forward into life after graduation, gripping my pencil even tighter, I knew there were great things in store for me.
The first few years after graduation were challenging. Not every day or every year was easy and there’s a lot of self doubt that comes with owning and running your own business. With the support of loved ones I let my artwork lead the way, and have been pushing hard, ever forward, ever since. I formed Erica Catherine Illustration as a way to fuse my two passions; a love of drawing, painting, and pattern making and creating quality, unique products. I have spent the last few years creating artwork and products that are meant to make every day a little more special.
I wouldn’t necessarily say I chose to be an artist as much as I let my passions guide me to where I am today. With passion comes inspiration, and with that comes a drive to help achieve your wildest dreams. Nothing makes me feel more fulfilled than feeling successful as a sole proprietor of an artistic and creative business. I am so proud of my achievements thus far and greatly anticipate the future. Being an artist makes me happy, and there is no better reason than that to pursue a career that makes me happy.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Since childhood, I was always told that I was an old soul, someone who was picked up and placed in a time not quite their own. For as long as I can remember I have had a love of antique designs and interest in history. This love of all things antique continued to flourish through the years. As I grew as an artist it became much more evident that my work is deeply rooted in my love for nature and all things vintage. I aim to bring that spirit into all of my designs.
I specifically love to reference vintage turn of the century Illustration, especially work that showcases florals. A few of my favorite artists are William Morris, Alponse Mucha, and Maria Sibylla Merian. I pull inspiration from their soft colors and compositions to help give my work the feeling that you’ve been pulled back in time.
I use a technique of layering graphite and watercolor to give a soft, classical feel to my artwork. The downside of working this way is that it takes a very long time to build up the layers. I don’t produce work as quickly as some other artists but all of the little details of my work really make the time spent at my drawing table very relaxing and so worth the effort!
Something that not everyone realizes about my art work is that I spend countless hours researching my subjects before my pencil even touches paper. I began to see that many people didn’t know that my work starts this way. I noticed that when I would tell the story behind each piece I would see faces light up. I’ve been told that people can tell the love and patience I put into every aspect of my work and I began to see that others love to learn about the stories behind the piece. With this realization I began including info cards to offer up a bit of that story to pass onto the next owner of my artwork.
Once I complete the Illustrations for each collection, I then move on to deciding what products I will be offering them on! Alongside prints and cards you can find my designs on a range of products from shirts, to scarves, tea towels, and much more. For me it is important to not only offer prints of my artwork but products that can be used day in and day out. Each product is meant to make every occasion or special gift exactly that; one of a kind and truly beautiful.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is such a hard question and I often get asked it a lot when people are visiting Savannah! Obviously everyone will tell you to go straight into the heart of downtown and soak in every moment of the oak trees and beautiful scenery but there is so much more to see here. A walk down River Street is always on my go to list for tourists, While you’re there make sure to stop in Gallery 209. I am so thankful to have my work in such a beautiful space, surrounded by the historic architecture and river view just outside our doors.
For fun local shopping, I love to head to the Starland district. It’s a more artsy neighborhood that’s just a little off the beaten path. You can find the food truck park, local breweries, and amazing food right all in spot. It’s the perfect spot to grab lunch or dinner and support local businesses.
If you’re outdoorsy another fun spot is Skidaway State Park. It’s a go to for my husband and I when we are wanting to get out in nature. They have a few trails and you can bring your dog along as you walk! The walks are easy and you can soak in the gorgeous sites that the lowcountry has to offer.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am so thankful to have so many amazing people that have supported me in my path so far. My parents and sister have always been a big role in supporting my dreams. My parents have both always helped instill equal parts of drive and creative energy into my life to help me push myself forward. My family has always been my number one cheerleaders since day one and I will never be able to thank them enough for that. With out their early support I know that my life could have easily taken a different path.
I also couldn’t continue growing and enjoy my creative journey with out the love and support of my husband. Being in the creative field and running your own business isn’t always sunshine but no matter the day I know he will always cheer me on. He has loved and supported me through each and every one of my dreams, for that I will never be able to repay him. He is the first one I call to tell about exciting new opportunities, brain storm ideas with, and turn to for reassurance even in difficult times. He is definitely a big part of the foundation in my support system and I am thankful each and every day for him.
A huge shout out to my teachers and professors that I have had the pleasure of learning from along the way! They helped shaped me not only as an artist but into the person I am today. Teachers most often don’t get enough credit for the impact they make in every one of their students lives. So thank you to you all!
A final shout out to every one of my friends, family, and supporters because in the end with out your love and support this dream wouldn’t be a reality. So thank you for every one of your sweet messages, orders, and continual love! I truly could not make a living with out you all and I look forward to sharing the continuing journey with you all.
Emi Morgan Photography Jenelle Botts Photography Amy Boyd Photography