Erick Sahler Serigraphs Co.  |  Berlin-West Ocean City Life

 

This story by Jeff Dean appeared in Berlin-West Ocean City Life magazine in August 2013.


Silkscreen artist captures iconic Eastern Shore images


By Jeff Dean

For Berlin-West Ocean City Life


SALISBURY — Erick Sahler views the world a bit differently than most.


It’s not that the 46-year-old silkscreen artist doesn’t see buildings and trees and rivers, it’s that he sees them as their representative shapes, in their boldest colors, as graphic elements in a naturally occurring collage.


Sahler makes limited-edition serigraphs, the term used to describe fine art made by silkscreen, the method widely used to make T-shirts and posters.


Sahler himself, in fact, started his art career as a teenager designing T-shirts for a local screen printer, before attending art school at the University of Maryland.  He spent more than 20 years working as a newspaper editor, cartoonist and graphic designer until finally pulling the trigger on his fine art career.


Of his decision to make art his living, Sahler said, “It wasn't really because it was my dream, it was my last option. I knew that I wasn’t going to retire from the newspaper job. I thought about the practical things I could do and none of them appealed to me.  I didn’t want to spend another 20 years behind a desk.”


Sahler said he was worrying about his future career prospects driving through the Deal Island marshlands one day when a “bolt of lightning” hit him.


“I was thinking about an artist I really admired when I was younger and this voice just came to me. It said, ‘Be that guy.’ It was that simple. And I was so excited at the possibility of it. I told myself to be the guy you wanted to be when you were a young man going to art school. I had gotten so far away from what I wanted to do when I was a young artist.”


Sahler is unapologetic about his reverence for Delmarva and the Eastern Shore. His images celebrate a positive and light-hearted vision of the land between two waters.


“The Eastern Shore is in every cell of my being. I love so many aspects of living here.  I’ve been fortunate to have had a family that took me to the Delmar stock car races and the Hebron carnival. Over time, those things became who I am,” he said.

 

Some of his most popular images are slightly irreverent and downright funny, like his now-famous spoof on the Delmarva institution M.R. Ducks, featuring three blue-footed birds looking at each other over the phrase, “M.R. Boobies,” or his image of a tree bearing a familiar yellow fruit over the phrase, “Grow a Pear.”


His bread-and-butter, however, is his 16-x-20-inch prints celebrating the places and people of the Eastern Shore and Delmarva Peninsula. Sahler has made prints about the iconic places of Salisbury, Chincoteague, Ocean City, Cambridge and others, with more on the way. His two major projects for the summer are new prints depicting the Indian statue at the entrance to Bethany Beach and the Salisbury Zoo.

  

Working alone in his Salisbury studio, Sahler puts his hands on every part of every print, passing every one through his press once for every individual color, sometimes up to ten times per piece. He then inspects, signs and frames the prints himself.


“I’ve always had a problem delegating,” he said, laughing.  “If I look five years down the road, I still don’t see myself working with an assistant. I like everything I do. The beginning of a print run is difficult.  You are multitasking a lot of different elements.  The middle of a run a monkey could do. I like the complexities and the tedium — I enjoy both parts.”


Sahler spent 2011 building his studio and equipping it with a press and silkscreens, drying racks and a framing station, before spending nearly a year secretly creating prints. He said he wanted to get his printing process perfected before going public.  He also made print runs of a half-dozen images to have enough art to supply several galleries around the Shore.


He made his first public appearance at a Third Friday in downtown Salisbury, where he put out a table and offered one print as an experiment. “I didn't sell a single one,” he said. “But I was having fun and I believed in what I was doing and I thought it was worth it to continue.”


“The day I saw that I was really up and running was when a woman approached me as I was breaking down from a show in Ocean City and asked me if I realized how lucky I was. For some reason it struck me when she said that that I had been riding my bike by myself and had traveled some distance under my own power.  You just never know what tomorrow will bring.”


Despite those promising signs through the year, Sahler said it was “shocking” when more than 50 of his recently produced Chincoteague prints entitled "Swing Bridge" pre-sold by word of mouth alone.  Less than a year since embarking on his artistic adventure, Sahler’s art has found a place in the hearts of the people who love the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.


Not one to rest on past success, Sahler continues to work 12 hours a day, six days a week.  “I have all I can handle from a work standpoint but it doesn’t feel like a job. It hasn't felt like a job from Day 1.”


Sahler, a baseball fan, did add one caveat though. “I feel like I’m in the sixth inning of a no-hitter, you know?  Things are going well, really well, but I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to think about it. I just want to keep working,” he said, laughing.  “You never know when the phone will stop ringing.”


Sahler said his work lives in the space between pop art and the expensive paintings found in high-end galleries. As such, even his signed, framed work sells for under $150. “I make blue collar art. I grew up on Norman Rockwell and Charles Schultz, and my rule from Day 1 was to never charge more for my art than I was willing to pay myself.”


Sahler’s serigraphs are available in shops around Delmarva. For a list of his sellers, to order a piece online or for more information, visit www.ericksahler.com.



MORE ERICK SAHLER SERIGRAPHS CO. IN THE NEWS


Bayside Gazette — “Erick Sahler to unveil Berlin serigraph” (March 2015)


Beach to Bay Times — “Featured artist: Erick Sahler Serigraphs” (August 2013 and July 2014)


Berlin-West Ocean City Life — “Silkscreen artist captures iconic Eastern Shore images” (August 2013)


Coastal Point — “Silkscreen artist Erick Sahler to debut Fenwick print at Artisans Fair” (September 2015)


Coastal Style — “Smooth as Silk: Erick Sahler’s nostalgic silkscreens add “Regional Pop” to the Shore” (May 2016)


Daily Times/DelmarvaNow — “Salisbury artist draws inspiration from Eastern Shore” (February 2013)


Delmarva Almanac — “Artist Interview: Erick Sahler” with video (August 2013)


Go! Magazine — “Serigraphs as serious art on display” (May 2012)


Maryland Coast Dispatch — “Students Get First-Hand Look at Artist at Work” (September 2016)


Metropolitan Magazine — “Q&A with Local Artist: Erick Sahler” (January 2014)


Office of the Governor — “City of Salisbury presents print to Maryland governor” (April 2015)


Old Line Plate — “Interview: Erick Sahler Serigraphs Co.” (October 2015)


Salisbury Independent — “Erick Sahler: The future is bright” (October 2014)


Salisbury Independent — “Erick Sahler elected to Society of Illustrators” (November 2015)


ShoreBread Magazine — “Big and bold: Erick Sahler Serigraphs” (December 2012)


Tidewater Times — “About the Cover Artist: Erick Sahler” (June  2014 and May 2016)


USA Today — “Sahler serigraph celebrates Assateague Lighthouse” (May 2014)


Wall Street Journal — “Former editor creates limited-edition silkscreen prints” (December 2012)


WBOC-TV “DelmarvaLife” — “Delmarva Treasure: Erick Sahler Serigraphs” (February 2014)

Made on Maryland’s Eastern Shore   |   © 2009-17 Erick Sahler Serigraphs Co.

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