We had the good fortune of connecting with Wolfe Erikson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Wolfe, how do you think about risk?
It’s funny, I don’t necessarily think of myself as a risk-taker in the conventional career sense. I haven’t sought out investors or put out huge capital with the risk of losing everything. But, I show up for opportunities when they are presented, and refuse to turn down the terms I set for myself; which results in a life that may seem risky to many. I’ve been a freelance designer, front-end developer, and consultant for four of the last five years, with a year-long stint at an agency in Los Angeles. While at that creative agency I felt moored down in a way that felt very destabilizing to who I was and what I wanted to do. This was especially obvious after spending the previous year as a digital nomad, working while traveling through Eastern and Central Europe and Southeast Asia. After experiencing agency life, I concretely knew that a typical 9-5 was not in the cards for me, which felt incredibly threatening because of the murkiness of that decision. The beginning was challenging, and a lot of times I did not know where my next client was going to come from, but now I have the mobility and freedom to choose where I want to be, whenever I want to be there; it’s a beautiful thing. I’ve gotten to where I am now in design by saying “yes”. I studied Business at College, so I had no clue how to traverse the art or design industry. Saying “yes” led me to try my hand at being a photographer, creating artwork for Netflix, working as an assistant curator for an international art festival, and now, working as a developer and expressing myself through creative computation. I am always trying to explore new creative mediums in the hopes that I can feel aligned with myself through the work.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am most proud of my ability to explore. Even though I can see a through-line over the years, my personal work looks very different than it did even a year ago. I feel that I bridge a very interesting gap across several mediums of design, fine art, poetry, and performance. I have art that fills my wallet and art that fills my spirit, and for now, that is okay that they are separate. The art that fuels my spirit has recently been an odd clash of creative coding and working with textiles. I am still exploring how these two worlds want to live together, but it is exciting and feels quite revelatory to try and create a new thing by attaching so many pieces of myself to the work. The series that I am most excited about at the moment has been taking my poetry and painting them onto clothing. Writing in 3-d space feels much more personal and interactive, and the piece immediately becomes performance when it’s worn. It continues to be a challenging path, it takes bravery, which I sometimes lack, to be able to face criticism and rejection over something that feels so personal. But, little by slowly, I am creating a body of work that I am incredibly proud of.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hmm, well I’m currently in Chemuyil a town a little north of Tulum in Quintana Roo. I’m also a sober person and am generally an adventurous introvert so my idea of a good time rarely involves a night out (which is an impossibility in 2020 anyway). My favorite way to spend time is in nature or involve travel so we would do a lot of that I would take them to Xunaan-Ha, my favorite little cenote that rarely has people there and a diving platform that is just at the right height and the clearest water you’ve ever been in. We could explore Bacalar, a summer vacation spot two hours south of Tulum, where we can watch the sunrise and meditate in front of a spectacular lake with herons grazing the water. From there we can explore the ruins of Xpuhil and see a 360-degree view of the jungle from the top of an ancient Mayan temple. When I was there we stayed on a little farm and got to take in the beautiful simplicity of life there. Food is fantastic most everywhere around here. The dishes that are my favorite are cochinita pibil, tamales, tacos de pollo, and grilled octopus, washed down with a glass of passion fruit or coconut water. My favorite thing about Chemuyil is the people, they are so kind. I adore the sense of community from being here, there is no bustle to try and be “somebody” you already are and a piece of something greater. It is wonderful.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people and institutions that have granted me access to the life that I enjoy. I owe a lot to my design family, the people that offer criticism in an incredibly thoughtful and constructive way. I also wouldn’t be where I am without working programs such as ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, and ‘The War or Art’ by Steven Pressfield , and listening to Podcasts like “The Creative Pep-talk Podcast” where Andy J. Pizza makes the path of art and design feel a lot more attainable on your own terms.
Other: I also just joined Tik Tok and it’s quickly becoming my favorite platform (@boy.cried.wolfe)
All images are mine to use