Shawna Erback uses the marketing skills she learned in the car rental business to advance her career as a visual artist.

Shawna Erback uses the marketing skills she learned in the car rental business to advance her career as a visual artist.

Bizz Buzz – Artist opens dowtown studio

Local artist and resident Shawna Erback will be opening her new studio downtown mid-September.

Local artist and resident Shawna Erback will be opening her new studio downtown mid-September.

A professional visual artist for the past 10 years, she’s turned a childhood passion into a successful business — the result of another passion; marketing, and her distinct style.

“It’s all about building a really good body of work, your signature style,” she explained. “When people look at my paintings I want people to know I painted it before they even look at my name.”

She describes her acrylic artwork as gothic fantasy and fairy art, but when she says “gothic,” she doesn’t mean vampires and skeletons.

Most of her work features a fairy or little girl and her heart pet, but you never see their faces. Her art very much reflects her emotions and experiences but still allows clients to relate to the painting as well.

“She doesn’t have a name, she doesn’t have a face so that allows my clients to put themselves into the scene — so if I ever named her they would not be happy with me,” Erback said.

She explained that when dealing with the darker side of things and using darker colours, people and their emotions are more easily drawn into the work — like the one she did after her father passed away, which is a bestseller.

The artist recently started to dabble in some still-life pieces, and like her other work, doesn’t use photos or sketch her designs onto the canvas.

“I’m not a realist. It all has to be up here for me to really enjoy it,” she said, pointing to her head.

She’s sold over 1,000 original pieces, participated in shows like the New York Art Expo and is a concept artist for DreamWorks Animation. She’s also going to be featured in September’s Canadian Country Music Awards gift lounge.

Erback moved from Trail to Calgary after high school where she worked for Budget Rent-A-Car, which she said was perfect because the company was really focused on customer service and marketing. She took what she learned there and now applies it to her own business.

But she always wanted to be a mom, so when she had her two children she changed her career path to something that would allow her to work from home. She started making soaps and continued to paint, transitioning to where she is today.

“But then my painting started to overtake my soap making so my husband and I decided to focus just on the art and sold our soap company.”

It was the passing of her father and wanting to get out of the big city that brought her and her family back to Trail about five years ago.

In opening the new studio, Erback said she’ll have lots to look forward to besides getting her work out of her home.

“I have lots of collectors in Trail so it will be nice for them to be able to just come in and see what I’m painting and working on without appointments, they can just come and go. I don’t mind painting in front of people — that’s going to be the best part, having people come in and watch me paint.”

The studio will feature original paintings and prints by Erback, who also takes custom orders. Her prints are done on professional giclee printers, meaning that the pigments are made to last for hundreds of years — colours won’t fade.

The studio will be located at 1338 Cedar Avenue, between Century 21 and Cedar Avenue Salon. For more information, visit her website at www.shawnaerback.com.