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Meet Eric Sanders

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

Eric, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I was six years old, I started painting. I had a real passion for it, and I continued to paint until I completed college. In college, however, I decided my career path would be business. After graduating, I got a job managing a manufacturing business that I eventually was able to acquire. Although the business was successful, it was so time-consuming that my art-making got pushed to the side, and eventually put indefinitely on hold. 30 years later, I decided to sell my business so I could spend more time with my family and build my dream home. While working on the design aspects of my house, I started to remember how much I loved being creative and that I missed painting. Coincidentally, my girlfriend, Anna decided to give me a set of paints and brushes as a birthday gift. The rediscovered desire to make art soon developed into an essential part of my life again.

At the same time, I was also heavily involved in philanthropy. After years of exploring how I could engage in philanthropy, which included traveling to other countries and seeing first hand how poverty impacted people in all kinds of communities, I came to an understanding of how I could best serve these people. Similar to the philanthropic track that Bill and Melinda Gates follow, I realized that international development was the most powerful tool to address poverty. I started investing in organizations that do just that kind of work. Here are some examples of organizations that I fund: https://www.pciglobal.org/, https://globalcommunities.org/, https://www.wn.org/, http://globallivingston.org/, http://www.nuruinternational.org/, https://www.groundswellinternational.org/, https://www.madre.org/.

At first, I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to show and or sell my work. I didn’t need the money, and I was mainly into painting for myself, as a private creative outlet. But a friend encouraged me to combine my two passions for philanthropy and art. I realized, after giving this a lot of thought, that this was a wonderful idea. This started to motivate me even more to become a better artist and to find my voice within this mode of expression.

I have been working hard to improve my skills, content, and context. I began by copying the styles and techniques of other artists I admire (for example, Basquiat, Picasso, Miro, Van Gogh, Dali, Gorky, Bacon, Frankenthaler, Kandinsky, Condo). Then I started working from their styles to incorporate my own ideas and adding my own twists. I also enjoy doing digital works on my Ipad; when I get an idea for new work, it can be a great tool for quick-expression and working out unfiltered ideas.

Since restarting this art adventure, I’ve had the pleasure of showing my work in a few different locations, including a solo exhibition at Eastern Projects Gallery in DTLA. I love talking with people who come by to see my work to discuss my process and my passion for helping others. I am currently putting together a show with another local artist, Beth Bowen (https://www.bethbowenart.com/) and I am participating in the Venice Artwalk auction, (https://venicefamilyclinic.org/annual-events/venice-art-walk/)

Has it been a smooth road?
Having a great support system and some financial security has made some of this easier, but not coming from this from the standard educational vantage point has also presented other obstacles. My skill sets aren’t as far along as I’d like them to be, and I am working hard to improve them. Also, even though I am an art collector and on the board of MOCA (https://www.moca.org/), I’m not as connected with other artists in the community as I’d like to be, so I’m also working on expanding my art community.

Please tell us more about your art.
I’m an artist/philanthropist. I specialize in painting and digital. I’m probably best known for my abstract paintings, but I hope to be known as the artist that makes great work and helps people while doing it. What sets me apart is that while I am trying to be a serious part of the art world, I am also doing it to help others.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Well, for sure, my father was my first and most important mentor in art because he was the one that taught me to paint. His artwork was hung throughout our house as I was growing up and those paintings had a big impact on me. He also would take my siblings and me to museums and act as a docent for us so we could understand why something was a great work of art. I can still vividly remember when I was a teenager standing with him in the National Gallery in Washington DC and marveling at a particular brushstroke on the nose of one of Rembrandt’s self-portraits. It was a very surreal moment to be in that same museum 40 years later with my children who were now the same age and pointing out the same brushstroke to my children.

I have a supportive family and my girlfriend Anna is the one who gave me the paint and paintbrushes that helped me get back into art, so I owe a lot of this to her support and insight.

I do have a team of people who advise me and help me navigate the art world. I would like to thank Kristine Schomaker from Shoebox PR and Corrina Peipon. Kristine has helped me put together a great group of people to work with and while navigating this new system. And Corrina has helped me wrap my head around a lot of important things I needed to understand about the more cerebral aspects of being an artist.

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