As a 14-year-old girl, Erica Williams was obsessed with the magical action-adventure series, “Sailor Moon.” And one of her high school companions had a knack for drawing the characters from the Japanese television show, which instilled immense motivation for the Colorado Springs native to be just as good as her friend.It was the spark that set off her predominantly self-taught artistic career. Erica studied for one year at the Kansas City Art Institute before the loan company she was conferring with shut down and she couldn’t pay the tuition. But her art continued to flourish, becoming highly intricate with expressions of macabre, elegant romanticism and lore—a perfect fit for our November spirits issue containing a feature on the dark and otherworldly aesthetic of speakeasies.
“There is an endless amount of beauty and darkness everywhere in the world and I love all of it so much,” Erica says. “I’m hard-pressed to think of any animal or plant I don’t like or am not inspired by. People fear death and the decaying, and I never really have. I think the beauty in it is too often forgotten and that people sometimes forget that whatever this thing was that is hurt or dead, it’s not an object—but a living thing. And it deserves to be honored and celebrated. Something isn’t ugly just because it was broken. It didn’t lose its meaning or value.”
Erica says she only has miniscule amount of free time to spend with her cats, and that’s for good reason. The rest of her days are spent creating meticulous flora and fauna designs for a stellar clientele, including Surly Brewing, Dave Matthews Band, The Head and The Heart, Carleton College, The Black Keys, and many others. But regardless of all the noteworthy album covers, posters, and apparel the screen printer has spent countless hours engrossed in, she explains that “I am not where I want to be yet, so my goals really haven’t been reached” and hopes to “constantly grow and become a badass one day.”
Well, her magical mixture has surely made an impact in the art world, and will soon grow into a new venture. Williams plans to team up with a friend and establish a “witchy,” dark-natured, yet feminine studio called Gallow. The plan is to curate products for women made by women, such as bags, jewelry, prints, and apparel, and to make sure that female artists have a platform to thrive.
At the end of the day, as difficult as it is being a full-time freelancer, this is the life for her.
“I like how challenging and expressive art is,” Erica reflects. “You get to try and tell these stories and they can be as apparent or as hidden as you want. You get to show people the things that you obsess with in your head and you get to work through those narratives in the process of making them. I don’t ever want to do anything else. I was made for this.”