Creative Profiles | Erin Vaughan

Welcome to part three of Soma's Creative Profile Series. This week, we're featuring LA based illustrator, Erin Vaughan.

Tell us about your craft. What sparked your interest in illustration? How long have you been an illustrator?

I’m a freelance illustrator and online shop owner of prints & calendars. For freelance I take on a variety of clients to create custom illustrations for their homes, businesses, websites, etc. My work usually ventures into themes of camping, road trips, time spent outdoors and childhood nostalgia.


I majored in Studio Arts Interdisciplinary in college which allowed me to take classes in drawing/ painting and also design. My design professor was an illustrator, and so studying under him was a direct influence in my understanding of illustration. I felt drawn to Illustration because it gives you a little more freedom to find your own style and embrace the imperfection. I basically launched my freelance illustration business right after graduation, so I’ve been a full time illustrator for about 3 years now.

Can you elaborate on the items that fuel your art? How is each item instrumental to your creativity and craft?

Items that fuel my art: inspiration (my memories; gathering information around me - through images, travels, other artists, time spent outdoors and reading), Gouache Paint, Watercolor Paper, Pencils, Brushes, Micron Pens, Water, & Coffee. 

My artwork is mostly inspired by my time spent outdoors, traveling and camping. Those memories are vital to the subjects I bring to the canvas. The physical items -paint, brushes, paper, pens and water all play role in the process of the painting. I use gouache because it allows me to have both a look of transparency and also vibrancy, if I lay the paint on thicker. Water activates the gouache paint, and allows me to have a broad spectrum of color as I layer it onto the slightly textured and absorbent watercolor paper. After I complete a painting, I usually go in and highlight different shapes with different sizes of my Micron pens. This use of a pen has played a role in helping me develop a certain style in my illustration. Lastly, coffee is vital to my daily practice. Two cups in the morning before I start, and then a mid-day cup to help me finish the last few hours of work for the day. 

Can you explain on your creative process?  How do you drive a project from ideation to completion?

My process is pretty simple - research, gather images, create a few rough sketches, move on to sketching out final drawing, then on to painting, and lastly finishing with the pen-work. A lot of the work I do is custom to the client I am working with. Much of the process with them is a dialogue between the client and I, having them answer a lot of questions, and sending me images they are inspired by. Driving a project from ideation to completion is through thorough research, having a complete vision before starting, and also allowing the process of creating to take on new forms as you go along. You learn and grow as you create. 

What inspires you?  Are there any places, designers, writers, websites, etc that you immediately go to when you’re stuck in a creative rut?

Most of my inspiration is from actual experiences and places I have been. I spent a lot of my childhood traveling through the American countryside, camping, and spending time outdoors visiting places. I still continue to do those things because they fuel my creativity so much. I’m also very inspired by other people's travels and times spent in nature. That is sort of what fueled my drive to paint the National Parks. Everyone has such a unique experience spending time in these beautiful places that our country has decided to preserve for generations. Creating work to help people preserve those memories is so rewarding.


Some other inspiration for my art practice is listening music, which is part of my daily art practice. Also meeting on a consistent basis with other artists, designers, and small business owners to talk and critique each other's work. Community plays a huge role to the inspiration of my art  because I can get feedback on what I’m working on, be encouraged and get advice on growing my business 


How does a utilizing a product like Soma in your daily life hydrate your creativity?

Water is pretty vital to my practice as I literally use it to paint with. It’s part of the literal set of mediums I use to create with. Having a Soma water filter in my studio is also part of the the way I physically hydrate myself throughout the day through drinking water and coffee.