Artist: Erin Holberg, 19
When did you get interested in art? The first good drawing that I can remember was in ninth grade when I drew a picture of Bono for my dad. That was, like, the first time I realized . . . I can actually draw people. Before, it was always really intimidating to draw the face. Some of the classes I had taken and some of the people (who) gave me lessons (would have me do) practice drawings. I'd attempt to draw people's faces, and it just wouldn't come out that great. I became more comfortable with drawing around seventh and eighth grade, and then decided to try and tackle a portrait.
Have you taken lessons since you were young? I did a lot of art classes when I was young. I remember doing some at . . . YorkArts. I had a few private instructors here and there. Some of my earlier ones were really focusing on paint and watercolors and pastels and different mediums like that. One particular teacher (who) I had in seventh grade . . . really got me practicing on using graphite pencils and just experimenting with different techniques. (I went to) York Catholic (High School).
What is challenging about using pencil? I'm thinking that probably the most challenging thing is that while you can get a lot of detail with pencils, you can't really cover (as much) ground as you can with paint. I feel like paint would take much longer with the layering and waiting for stuff to dry . . . in order to achieve detail. It's really hard to do a large-scale pencil drawing. I really like pencil and colored pencil just because you can get so much detail with it, and I find that it's one of the easier mediums to handle because it's not messy.
How long does it take you to complete a piece? It definitely does depend on the size and subject. They can range basically from . . . 10 (hours) to 20 hours. My most labor-intensive piece took 45 hours.
It seems like you like to focus on some celebrities? I have a lot of drawings of Adam Lambert. Back when he was on ("American Idol") I guess it was two years ago . . . I was really inspired by everything he did on the show, from his stage presence to his entire look to the charisma he brought when he performed each of his songs. I ended up drawing a picture of him two summers ago and posted it on some fan websites just to get my name out there. I ended up getting a commission from another fan . . . and then it just spiraled from there. I've gotten a lot of different commissions of him since. He's my biggest inspiration through art. I just really appreciate his style.
Has Lambert seen any of your work? I had drawn a picture of him in my free time just for fun, and I ended up posting it on Twitter. In August (2010), his brother actually tweeted me. From there, I got a whole new group of viewers. I ended up selling the piece, and the woman I sold it to gave me a meet-and-greet ticket to see (Lambert) in Illinois. I did get to meet him, and he did get to sign two of my pieces. I'm so thankful for the experience.
What is the most challenging feature of a face to draw? I think about that a lot. I think most of the trouble comes when you're trying to draw an image in realistic color. I do a lot of my pieces where I would alter the skin tones or give it a colorful flair. A bunch of my pieces I've done in rainbow colors. I love drawing eyes . . . and hair sometimes. If you're doing a portrait where you have to get he skin tones exactly right in colored pencil, that would . . . definitely be the most challenging thing.
Are you studying art in college? Yes. I go to Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. The first year, they give us this rundown through foundation courses. We get to try a bunch of different mediums. It's been really cool to experiment. Next year, we get to take the prerequisites for whatever our major would be. The cool thing about Tyler is that they don't make you declare your major until junior year. I still really don't know what I want to do.
Are you excited about the June exhibit at Jane Plus Neal Images in York? I think it will be really interesting. I'm trying to, like, decide what pieces I'm going to put in. The woman who actually gave me the meet-and-greet ticket . . . sent me the piece back in the mail just particularly for the show. I'm excited to see it all in the room . . . and ready for viewing.
Are you working on any other pieces this summer? I do have another (Lambert) drawing that someone commissioned to do (and) something else for a family member. I ended up just getting a commission from a woman in Texas who wants me to draw her father and his horse. It is all kinds. (Laughs)
- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff
If you go
Erin Holberg's art exhibit will open 7 to 10 p.m. during June's First Friday festivities at Jane Plus Neal Images, 9 W. Philadelphia St., York.
The art will be on display for about a month. For details, visit www.janeplusneal.com.
See Erin Holberg's art: www.pictureinpencil.com
Listen to the interview: www.flipsidepa.com
Read more meet-the-artist interviews: www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory