Eric Ockrassa

Simplifying form with geometry and colour artist Eric Ockrassa's work is an aural feast. It is hard to not be taken back by the clean lines and flatness of the colours, harking back to the works of artists such as Roy Lichtenstein who was an inspiration for Eric. In this interview, he discusses his goals for the year, tips on how artists can build successful relationships with galleries and the joys of being an educator.

Geometry holds a cornerstone in your work, has that always been the case?

Geometry is my way of simplifying form. The hard edge quality of the work is only attainable with linear shapes and flat transitions.  With that being said, I am not always thinking about geometry as I am making the work, it is more the means to an end. I have been working this way since I was allowed to start experimenting in the mid-stages of my undergraduate degree.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am sort of between projects as I am currently renovating a new studio and have a full teaching load.  With the little time, I do have to paint, I am currently working on a small series of paintings and forcing myself to make more intuitive choices in the process.

What would you say is the key inspiration behind the pieces you create?

More than any other impulse of representation or abstraction, I am interested in the formal qualities of the work.  Color, line and form are always the structure of the work and the factors that define how the work will be received.  

Are you originally from Texas? How has it shaped you artistically?

My parents were in the army, and I moved around a lot as a child but finally settled down in Austin TX when I was in the 7th grade.  Austin, where I spent most of my adolescence, as well as Houston, where I got my MFA are both great art cities.  Lots of practising artists and kindred spirits supporting the arts.

How important in your opinion is the significance of educating future generations with regards to art, especially its history?

Society is defined by its culture and culture is comprised of many different types of art.  Visual art, music, food, architecture, all of the things are how we describe different societies.  Art is important in society because that is how we remember the past, define the present, and create the future.  

What attracted you to making art in the first place?

As long as I can remember I have enjoyed drawing.  Whether it was what I could see or what I could imagine, I have always had the impulse to draw.  I started thinking about art seriously in my sophomore year of college when I took my first painting class.  I knew almost immediately I wanted to spend as much time as possible pursuing the craft.

We often look back to the work of great artists for inspiration, what in your opinion was a key decade as far as art is concerned?

Sort of a big question.  The early 1900s were important because artists like Duchamp and Picasso were questioning what art could even be and it became much more interesting.  I am personally drawn to the 60’s Pop/Pop Abstractionist movement where Roy Lichtenstein and Nicholas Krushenick were making bold colour choices and using flat colour to describe intricate spaces.

What are your goals as an artist this year?

A big part of my life right now is being an art educator, and I am hoping to get better acquainted with the organisations I am currently working with as well as others in the area to find a long-term, stable relationship.  I have also applied to a number of artist residencies that I hope to be hearing back from.

You are represented by the Zoya Tommy Gallery in Houston, Texas. What advice would you give upcoming artists who are looking for representation from a gallery or creative agency?

There are pros and cons to any professional relationship and having a good relationship with the gallerist or organisation is important.  It is a mutual relationship, but you still want to protect your work.

As far as marketability, find your craft and perfect it.  That doesn’t mean you should become complacent and get bored with your work, but it’s always good when someone can recognise your new stuff because it feels like older work that they are already familiar with.  

What was the best advice you were given?

It’s very easy to overwork a piece; sometimes it’s better to stop at the 90% and call it done.

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