Atlanta’s Erin Henry is taking on the roles of both artist and muse. Here she answers our questions about her creative process and how she manages the difficult worlds of both art and fashion.

Photography Marcus Ezell for MODELS.com — Model Erin Henry @ Freedom Models (Los Angeles) – Special thanks to Lucy Quick
Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
You can call me Erin. I’m an artist from Atlanta, Georgia and I paint! I also model part-time which meshes beautifully with my art career. I try to take advantage of every day on this Earth by doing exactly what I love, taking my experiences and inspirations and turning them into art.

How would you describe your art?
I would describe it as provocative and ugly (in a good way)- based on realism but with a slightly suspended reality. I don’t want it to necessarily be comfortable… I just want to make you think. At the same time, I strive to dissolve the barriers between “genres”. I would be okay if there weren’t words that could accurately describe my art.

What do you think – or hope – your artwork says about you?
I would say that vulnerability is really important to my process. Even though my art is a manifestation of my own thoughts and ideas, it’s not about me. I want my work to make you think about and indulge in your own self, your life, your possibilities. One of the most beautiful things about art is the chance it gives you to let go of your ego. We can become more through art, especially when we are considerate of the things around us.

What have you learned about yourself from working as a model? And what have you learned about yourself through your art?
Art and modeling have given me an incredible amount of self-confidence. They have taught me that anything is possible. I have learned a lot about how to be behind the camera by being in front of the camera and vice versa. Modeling is a unique creative process… I get to use my body, explore new ideas, and also work with a team of people which is nice because, for the most part, painting is a solo activity. But also, I’ve learned how to be more disciplined. When you work for yourself, you don’t always have someone keeping you accountable and on top of things. Being smart and efficient with your time is crucial.

What has been the biggest surprise or learning curve in the fashion industry so far? And in the art world?
For the most part, I think creatives are kind of left to their own devices. This doesn’t surprise me, but the challenge is building a career and life pretty much from scratch and without much guidance. No one can teach you exactly how to be a successful artist. I think the biggest learning curve with working in the art and fashion industry is realizing that you have to be your own biggest advocate. No one really owes you anything… you have to go out there and make it yours.

What’s the best experience you’ve had in fashion? And in art?
I always really love it when I get to model menswear as a woman. My favorite experiences are when I get to display my own androgyny and really be myself. My best experience in art is probably just being accepted, loved, and supported by the community. It’s not easy to make the opportunity to be a full-time artist, so I try to appreciate every single moment of my developing career as it comes

Quick Questions

Who was the first artist to make a big impression on you?
One of my earliest inspirations I can remember was definitely Sally Mann. I think her photography is a big part of why I’ve fallen so in love with the human figure. I’ve always felt great nostalgia when viewing her work, and I think that is one of the most gripping, yet difficult feelings to evoke within art. Her process and results are unique and inspiring.

Who was the last artist to make a big impression on you?
One of my partners and amazing musician, Matt Citron. Whenever I may doubt myself, I can look to him and his creative process for inspiration. His music has taught me that I am powerful and I can keep breaking the rules. He is the one that helps me breathe, step back, and grasp the bigger picture. I think the best artists/people are the ones that know how to hold you accountable and push you in the right way through their own art.

What keeps you up at night?
The fact that we are continuing to destroy our Earth and exploit its natural resources in a way that might not be reparable. My fear of the helplessness of future generations keeps me up at night.

What/who is under-appreciated?
Art just for art’s sake is underrated. You don’t have to be a famous or highly-trained painter to create something amazing. I often see a pattern of people only able to appreciate art or the act of creating it if it fills a specific role they have for it in their head. It doesn’t need a reason for being… it serves its “purpose” just by existing. As children, we definitely understood this better. Art is for anyone and everyone.

Name three artists [in any sense of the word] you wouldn’t mind being compared to:
Adrian Ghenie, Laura Marling, Daniel Seagrove

What project are you working on now/next?
I’ve been working on a ton of projects at once! It can be really overwhelming sometimes but it is exactly what I want to be doing. My next big goal though is making art more social and interactive. I’ll figure out exactly what that means for my process soon…

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