Production artist Erika Doyle and illustrator Jessica Weidner have always been active in the creative world. However, the journey that brought them to where they are today – operating as pin designers for EVOL Chicago – was very organic. Erika explains, “We had just gone to Electric Forest and I was blown away by the level of production that went into all the intricate stages and jaw-dropping detail throughout every inch of Sherwood Forest.” Jessica adds, “Being an aspiring artist from Chicago with a passionate love for the music scene myself, I befriended EVOL Chicago pretty much as soon as I met them.”
Erika joined EVOL Chicago in the Spring 2015, while working full-time as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools: “I love teaching and making a difference in the lives of my students. After 8 years in graphic design prior to teaching, I was burnt out. I never abandoned my art though.” Erika says, “Last summer, meeting Misha was the turning point for me. As the founder of EVOL Chicago, Misha’s vision for the company and his love of house music really inspired me to join the design team.” Jessica shares, “I have really enjoyed creating and collaborating with my new friends as fellow artists on EVOL Chicago’s collective vision.”
What inspires you as an artist?
Erika: My art, especially the Mystic Wolf, is heavily inspired by nature, particularly the ornate patterns within different types of foliage, inside tree trunks and anything that grows in the wild. The other thing that motivates me to continue creating is this city itself. I am a die-hard Chicago girl, born and raised on the north side. I’ve been fortunate to travel to other U.S. cities, even attended college on the East Coast, but the energy and passion of Chicagoans is simply unmatched. We are so proud of our city and that pride is definitely underlying much of my design with EVOL Chicago.
Jessica: Like Erika, I've been fascinated by how patterns, mathematics and sacred geometry can be found all over nature and emanate a certain beauty that we all as a collective species can learn from and admire. Animals and their individual natures within this timeline of existence are another source of my inspiration. I find myself being able to better communicate a feeling in my art when universal symbols are used within the design. Chicago’s culture has always been inspiring to me. Having lived close to the city my whole life, I’ve always had a love for the city and it’s people. I also find Chicago to be very aesthetically pleasing in both its architecture and its people.
When did you become interested in designing pins?
Erika: I think part of it is that I love making a physical thing that someone wears or holds in their hands, and when I was working as a production artist downtown, I designed logos and shot some event photography – things that weren’t physical. Making pins was a great way to merge my love for design with my desire to produce a tangible item. I also really loved the challenge of creating something so small, but not losing the intricate details: There are so many different features, like die-cut, glitter, glow-in-the-dark, hard versus soft enamel. Figuring out how to combine these features into a small, yet detailed pin is a really fun part of all this.
Jessica: I am very much so a creative type and I have always loved to make all sort of things in my free time. I’ve chosen to pursue art as my career in hopes of being able to work with amazingly talented teams on large scale projects. Upon meeting this group, I could feel that they have the passion and the drive to develop a line of pins that are not just your average pin. Not only that, but the group also believed in my ability to help in the design process. Ever since, I have focused a lot of my artistic ability and awareness on hat pin art and design.
Can you walk us through your design process?
Jessica: I try to use simple shapes as building blocks for a bigger picture. Various shapes, lines and color all convey their own "personalities." As the base of the design comes together, I then begin to add more intricate detailing by applying my knowledge of symbolism, sacred geometry and sometimes even optical illusions.
Erika: I always start with researching what’s out there already, because I want our pins to be different. I gather inspiration from everywhere: social media, posters, design magazines, surface patterns, nature, macro photography, and probably most important, our EVOL Chicago team. We sit around a round table with our laptops and sketchpads, bouncing ideas off each other. We live and breathe collaboration, and this has become such a huge part of our design process, since we all bring such different backgrounds to the table.
Is there a specific time when you focus on coming up with new designs?Erika: The Spring is definitely our busiest time for developing new designs. Right now, we are knee-deep in designing some new pins and collaborating with other artists, preparing for festival season starting mid-May. Expect some new releases this summer!
Do you have any advice for new artists?
Erika: Bring a sketchbook with you everywhere. You never know when inspiration will strike. An idea flashes in my mind and just as quickly, I’m drawing it down on paper to make it come alive. Collaborate, as much as you can. Being part of EVOL Chicago has allowed me to collaborate with artists, musicians, photographers and vendors that I never would have met on my own.
Jessica: I wholeheartedly agree. Collaboration is key. I feel so blessed to have met such an amazing group of individuals. We, collectively as a family inspire each other to be the best versions of ourselves and I think it really shows. Being an artist is nothing short of a journey. There are always going to be good days and bad days, but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, "Is it all worth the trouble?" My answer is always, "Absolutely, without a doubt."
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