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Meet Eric Rader of Arix Art in Santa Clarita, Venice Beach and Downtown LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Rader.

Eric, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Art was introduced to me when I was in elementary school. Not in the form of your typical 2nd-grade art class with macaroni necklaces and finger paintings but as therapy and an alternative to expulsion.

I learned at a very young age that my Dad at the time was not my biological father, but instead, he had bailed and was never heard from again. Compound that with dealing with divorcing parents, etc. We all have our childhood baggage.

The only way I knew how to process this information, from a place of kid logic, was to act out aggressively toward innocent classmates, and by using a very advanced arsenal of foul language towards my teachers.

Luckily enough I had a very open-minded counselor and a supportive family who were the biggest catalyst for who I am today as a non-violent creative. I would have weekly sessions and each one included a different medium that was placed in front of me. In those moments there were no rules, no judgment, no expectations. It was my world and I could make it into whatever I wanted. From that point on art was my safe and comfortable place, a method to decompress. I sincerely wish I could find this counselor to thank her from the bottom of my heart.

To this day, I don’t choose to do art, I have to. This is how I process everyday thoughts, tribulations and points of view. If I haven’t challenged myself creatively in a long period of time I revert back to the short-tempered, and impatient version of myself. I vent by documenting experience through my own interpretations.

In 2012, I showed my work publicly for the first time at a show called Pancakes and Booze in LA. I didn’t make a dollar. I stood at a distance, excited and scared watching people take pictures of my work and pick up business cards I placed on the floor. I couldn’t remember a time I was happier. I knew at that moment that this was what I should be doing. I felt reignited.

2013, I went all-in! I quit my high-salary, 10-year career that I loathed. It was both the scariest and most liberating day of my life! I went home, updated my resume, printed it and after reading the final draft I realized that I would only end up in another unfulfilling job similar to the one I just quit. So I tore it up and started fresh. I wanted to be my own boss and do something I’ve never done before.

I gave myself 6 months. If I couldn’t figure out how to make an income in that time I had to go back to the mundane job that I hated. I dabbled in art show promoting with no success, signed up for every underground art show I could find making little to no money and networked my ass off! With 15 days remaining until my deadline… I met an artist that invited me into his Venice Beach crew. In a Hail Mary attempt, nervous and scared as hell to try the infamous and territorial, Venice Beach, I showed up to the welcoming 130 block. That was the day it all became possible. I had found a way to make an income.

Within those first years of 16-hour Venice Beach Summers days, we went from co-creatives to brothers. We leveraged up on one another as a unit and became family. Individually we would try new shows and events and report back to the crew if it was worth pursuing. Our event circuit was quickly built and our pack of artisans moved from show to show. We would make adjustments to our own individual art formula and if it worked we shared it with one another. We would spend countless hours collectively attempting to figure out this “full-time art hustle”. It was a lot of hard work, jam-packed with unbelievable stories.

Since then, I’ve expanded slightly past LA-based shows, traveling to the Bay Area, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. I’m planning to travel to further states and countries in the near future and I’ve hired two employees to help with my business, so I can focus on chasing the latest artistic adventures that scare the hell out of me.

I don’t know what the future holds but I truly believe, and have accepted the fact, that I will never “arrive”. I’ll never feel that “I’ve made it”. There will always be new things that spark my interest, new mediums to play with and exciting new challenges to face. I am eternally grateful for my friends, family, and fans of my work who have supported me through this crazy and creative adventure of mine.

Has it been a smooth road?
No, it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it is the hardest, most time-consuming, mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting job that I’ve ever had in my life…. and I’m in love with every damn moment of it.

There is no real road map or “Being a Full-Time Artist for Dummies” playbook. There has been a lot of trial, error and pep talks in the mirror to keep me from giving up. I’ve learned to take pride in both the hardships I’ve overcome and my stories of perseverance, each adding to the “I’ve come too far to give up” fire within. “Failures” became priceless lessons added to my knowledge bank and “Victories” became permission to take on new risks.

I think there is a common denominator between being a full-time creative and in any other career. You study, apply what you’ve learned, make mistakes and learn from them, grow, repeat, all while looking upward.

Some of my personal challenges:
I’ve had weekends in Venice where I only made $40, waiting to sell ANYTHING so I could get some food. It broke me for a moment but I changed my perspective from “what the hell am I doing?” to “what do I have to do to make sure this never happens again!” I invested in merchandising gear, came up with a wider product assortment and introduced #BombertheBear.

I’ve had my van belt break in Palm Springs, radiator blow in Arizona, an 80 mph tire blow-out on the 210 freeway, and have coasted downhill with an empty gas tank into a station because I REFUSED to pay the higher gas prices in Santa Monica. I have recently received my “Backyard Mechanic Badge” and have found a lot of mechanical uses for duct tape.

Handling the monetization of my passion was a major struggle. Once art became my everyday work the enjoyment started to slip. Some days I was forcing it and it was becoming just a job. I’ve learned to slow down, delegate and chisel out time to create without the expectation of ever showing or selling it to anyone, kind of like my own private collection of art work. It’s been interesting to see how my style has evolved through this work-passion balancing act.

In 2015, my wife and I had a child on the way and I started questioning everything about my career. It was important, because of my past, that she had a father that was there and could provide for her. However, my work is a very volatile source of income with demanding hours of focus. I thought about quitting entirely but came to the realization of how important it was to be a living example for her, showing that she could grow up to do anything, be anyone and that all things are possible with enough dedication. My art schedules vs. family schedules are written in pencil and are revised daily in a moments notice like juggling the pillars of adult-hood with a paintbrush in my teeth. Now, I’m around my family all the time and I still manage to get my creative time. Our daughter will be 3, loves to draw and paint and she carries her sketchbook and markers with her everywhere we go.

She has also put her mark on some of my paintings without my knowledge or consent.

In summary, it comes down to the advice I give myself often. “Don’t give up. Adjust.”

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Arix Art story. Tell us more about the business.
Arix (Eric’s) was a name I started signing on doodles when I was 19. There were too many Eric Rader’s out in the world and I wanted a unique alias. I thought it was cool at the time (meh, hindsight not really), it stuck with me and Arix Art (Eric’s Art) was later created.

All of my work has some sort of positive message behind it. Some messages are obvious and others require some interpretation. They stem from things I needed to create for myself in that specific moment for simple self-motivation like “Stop Making Excuses” or in moments of stress and depression where I was reaching inward for courage and perseverance like “Head On”.

I think that people can relate to some of the personal struggles that I have documented through my work in an uplifting way. It makes me so happy when I hear people say “I need this” not because of the sale but what the message on that tiny print will do for them in the long-run.

In regards to my style, I like to build as much as paint. I get bored easily and I’m constantly playing in the garage. I’ve used VHS, audio cassettes, and records for backgrounds in a lot of my work. I’ve taken illustrative characters of mine and drawn them on wood, cut out, painted and assembled the pieces with backlit LED’s to create this large formats, hyper-graphic-art style pieces of work.

Over the last few years, I’ve really been focused on my brushwork, studying light, shadows, values, perspective, and landscapes. I wanted to practice being more technical with a brush instead of power tools. Eventually, I’ll pull it all back together into both technical and structural works of art.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
There will always be a place in this world for art. Will it change dramatically? Yes.

I’m already seeing a shift from physical to digital and I see 3D and VR is the next big transition where artwork becomes more of an interactive experience where one gets literally engulfed in a “world” rather than lost in a physical painting.

I’ve noticed that people have a hard time letting go of the tangible and I feel that physical paintings will never go away. However, I have already started training myself in the world of digital art and I’m curious to see how my style develops and where these technological shifts take me and the rest of the creative community.

What scares me is seeing creative programs being removed from the public school curriculum. It’s harder now for the youth to create and express themselves so it’s up to parents to keep this alive in the youth. I have a theory as to how the removal of these programs correlates to an increase in school violence and highly medicated children but that’s whole other conversation entirely. Who knows what kind of adult I would’ve become without the help my formally mentioned counselor.

I have a special place in my heart for every young person who shows me their art when they stop by my booth to chat. I’ve given out a lot of supplies and prints to kiddos in exchange for them promising me that they keep pursuing their passion.

Pricing:

  • 4×6 Matted Prints – One $10, Two $15, Four $20
  • 8×10 Matted Prints – $15
  • Sticker Packs – $10
  • Full-Size Prints on Canvas – Starting at $225

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Yaroslav Williams

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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