I recently moved to a new place, and along with trashing all my janky Ikea furniture from college, I decided it was time to bring in some big girl art. Picking a piece to invest in and bring into your space can be kinda intimidating for those of us who have zero idea what we should be looking for. I immediately texted my good friend and the best artist I know, Erik Skoldberg, for all the deets. I met Erik almost three years ago at yoga and he was just a really cool guy and OG juice customer when Suja was still a baby in unlabeled glass bottles. I had no idea he was such an amazing artist until I got to know him and found out he was showcasing pieces at a gallery downtown. Fast forward 3 years later and Erik has his very own insanely gorgeous, light, open, airy, huge gallery at the Del Mar Plaza and those Suja bottles are now labeled and on the shelves of grocery stores nationwide. Even crazier, Erik designed the art for this year’s cover of the Del Mar Race Track Program along with a whole racetrack collection of jockeys and horses plus killer cute swag like hats and flip flops to match! I was DYING when I saw them they are sooooo good! We’ve both evolved our passions into full fledged businesses, but the passion whole heartedly remains as I saw when he invited me over to the gallery to pick out my very own Erik Skoldberg original – my first piece of oh so special grown up art (purple, pink, and blue, natch). It’s now perched smack dab in the middle of my living room and I smile every single time I look at it. Erik just lights up when he talks art and here’s what I mean…
How old were you when you started painting and how did your art evolve as you grew up?
My mother had a paintbrush in my hand as young as I can remember. My mother is a studio artist and teacher for over 30 years. I feel that she really groomed me into the artist that I am today. As far back as I can remember I loved drawing, painting and everything creative. My taste was constantly changing and I sketched and painted whatever I was in the mood for. I painted underwater fish, professional athletes, architecture, cars, my dog, beach scenes, etc. You name it, I painted During my undergraduate studies at the University of San Diego, I was very experimental with large-scale pieces. I loved the freedom of action painting and being in the moment using bright colors, layering and ingraining movement. I envisioned the big picture in my head but paid little attention to the fine details in between. It was very refreshing. I became fascinated with the theories behind each color and the impact it had on our emotions. I believe the right color combinations really engage the viewer and create an inner sense of balance in the visual experience. I loved bright, fun, energetic and uplifting colors. It’s like that summer music mix that never ends. Then it evolved into monumental pieces, 5×7 feet, 6×10 feet; to a piece I recently competed at the Merrill Lynch building 15×15 feet. Alive, cool, brilliant, vigorous, elevating pieces fill my collection that carry depth and movement.
The way you combine colors is magic. What’s your favorite color and why?
Is this a trick question? Well, I love the color wheel, ha. If I had to choose ONE, it would be blue! I have grown up on the beach as a surfer and can’t get enough of our beautiful water here in San Diego and around the world. Blue is a constant color in our lives as we see it every day in our skies and oceans. Blue also causes the body to produce a chemical that is calming and tranquil. I am always all over the place so I think it naturally mellows me out. Blue also communicates significance, importance, trustworthiness, loyalty, stability and unity. A good color to have in your home!
Where do you get your inspiration?
I love traveling, the outdoors, and being active. I am passionate about Mother Natures and the feeling it evokes when something spectacular is captured. This continually inspires me to create. We often miss the natural beauty around us in our fast paced and often stressful lives. I simply want to recreate those scenes and have them last forever. How can you not be inspired by Mother Nature!
How long does on piece take you from start to finish?
That is a tough question to answer. I start weeks before I even touch the canvas experimenting with new color samples and textures. After fine-tuning my bleeds I usually work on a few pieces at a time. All of my works are multi layered. Some have up to 10-12 layers on one piece. I think knowing when to stop is the most important and the most difficult. Sometimes less is more and I love simplicity. I have pieces that are very monochromatic, super smooth, clean and simple. Four to five layers and I’m extremely happy with it. Others I work on for weeks at a time and put aside because I feel like they are missing a slight touch. In working on new collections, I create new ideas. I often break a piece back out and finish it up. Sometimes I hang the piece to digest for a while before working on a few more layers.
Any rituals you have before making a piece?
I think that rituals are really important. If I am stressed under a time constraint or not focused thinking about my To-Do list I don’t even attempt picking up a brush. I have before and it ends in a complete mess. Not to mention one really large canvas and a dozen tubs of paint end up wasted.
Knowing I will be painting the next day I ALWAYS do an early surf or yoga session. Clearing my mind before painting allows me to truly enjoy the process. The anticipation of painting is often greater than the happiness actually experienced while painting. I use a lot of different brush stroke techniques and my acrylics dry fast so I stay pretty focused. A great playlist is ALWAYS a must. Black Keys, Macklemore, Mumford & Sons, Neon Trees and always a bunch of Reggae.
What is your workspace like? OCD clean or down to business messy?
I would like to think it starts out pretty clean and organized. I have a nice big bulletin board with all of my ideas and color combos. I have my colors all spread out, my brushes in line and my sample works close at hand. Then it goes down hill quickly becoming very messy. I have spattered paint all over my studio walls, floors, pants, shirt, hair and even my face which I often don’t notice until my girlfriend points it out at dinner. I then layer, let it dry and do it all over again.
You have your own gallery now and it is pretty big, beautiful and amazing. How did you get to this stage in your career?
During college, circa 2007 I really wanted to exhibit my artwork. Of course I went to my favorite gallery, Madison Gallery in La Jolla. At the time I spoke with Alexander Salazar and showed him my pieces. He loved my usage of color, my unique style and consistently in my collection. But of course, he said, “You have a long way to go my friend. I love your work, but if you want to be serious artist I need to see a collection of at least 50 pieces. I want to know you are serious about your art; you’re going to be around for a while as an artist and this is not just a hobby; especially if I am going to put my time and energy behind you.” So I got to work. By the time I returned after college Alex Salazar had opened his own gallery in Downtown San Diego and La Jolla. I had my first Solo Exhibition at his Grand opening in La Jolla. I was fortunate enough to have some success in the corporate world doing collections for Fed Ex corporate office, Merrill Lynch, USCD Biomedical buildings and more. I was living up in Encinitas and an opportunity arose to open up my own gallery at The Del Mar Plaza. Timing is everything and I think it all came together nicely.
What is your favorite part about being an artist? Least favorite?
My favorite part about being and artist is always having something to do, for LIFE. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about new concepts, techniques, color ideas or even look at something and think how I can connect it back to my art. I am in a consistent state of innovative thought that keeps me going. I also love having my own schedule and freedom.
Having my own gallery, keeping up with events, shows and marketing on top of creating new collections can get pretty hectic. I love it all and having a business degree from USD really helps. Sometimes it can be tough turning off my brain and just enjoying the present. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Your painting is the cover of the 2014 Del Mar Racetrack Program. Pretty Major! Every single person at the track with have their hands wrapped around your art. How did that come about and what else did you create for racing season?
It is really exciting, one million copies. I still can’t believe it. Last year at the Del Mar Races, I met Craig Dado, the Chief Marketing Officer of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. I told him a little bit about my new gallery that I had just opened up down the street at The Del Mar Plaza. I also showed him the new horserace collection I was working on. I did a rendition of the first Del Mar Racetrack Program of 1939 for the Turf Club and a wonderful charity event roasting Doug O’Neill, one of the top Thoroughbred trainers in California. We raised $7,500 from the painting for Great Friends Foundation. I continued to stay in touch with the racetrack submitted my artwork for the following year. The rest is history. I just hung my full racetrack collection up in my gallery last week. I did a full collection of the jockeys such as Mike Smith, Chantal Sutherland, Rafael Bejerano and a few contemporary abstract paintings of them racing.
What advice do you have for art newbies looking to start a collection? The top 3 things to keep in mind?
Always buy something you are in love with and have to have! Not a status symbol or label. Something that you connect with and it moves you in a positive way. The best is when there is just an unexplainable connection. New collectors, it is always nice to find an upcoming artist or a local artist that is established but not already huge. It gives you a chance to follow their evolution and career. Art is an investment and you will have it forever so always buy an ORIGINAL.
And because I am nosy- what’s next for Erik Skoldberg Art?
UP! Staying true to my style and not being worried about painting whatever is in style at the moment. Keep building my collection and staying ahead in the contemporary art world. I would like to continue exhibiting my artwork nationally and internationally. My work continues to evolve. Through layering, brushstrokes and the application of color, I am able to express a distinctive style hoping to give my artwork a breath and life of it own.
Every good painter paints what he is! “Jackson Pollock”
See? You love him right? He’s the real deal. If you like what you saw, go to website www.erikskoldberg.com and check out his portfolio of over the top beautiful pieces. He also does custom stuff so if you have a color scheme you love or need for a specific space he can make the magic happen!
For those of you checking out Erik’s artwork on the program at Opening Day of the Del Mar Racetrack this year and not sure what to do after – this is where you want to be for the afterparty:
The party is FREE entry with Suja cocktails flowing, a signature welcome cocktail at the door, delicious food, live music, a margarita and taco bar, and just an all around reeeaaaalllly good time! If you’ve ever been to Rancho Valencia, you know they have one of the most gorgeous views of Rancho Santa Fe, a sexy equestrian theme in their Pony Room Bar, and a gorgeous croquet lawn overlooking the city where you can mingle or hang by the fire pits. Hosted by Rancho Valencia and Riviera Magazine! Go and thank me after
If you have any questions for Erik and how to get a piece/upcoming events he’s doing or about the Rancho Valencia event, leave below!