Erick Sahler Serigraphs Co.  |  Old Line Plate

 

This interview appeared on Old Line Plate, a Maryland food and history website, in October 2015.


Interview: Erick Sahler Serigraphs Co.

The artwork in this interview really speaks for itself but for the sake of having an introduction I’ll mention that I came across these Erick Sahler Serigraphs Co. prints at Sundial Books in Chincoteague this past August. In a few short moments I’d stocked up on postcards and a perceptive saleswoman sold me on a print.


A bold graphic rendering of Smith Island cake has got to have some type of neurological effect on me. Resistance is futile.


Noticing how these prints celebrate so much of Old Line Plate subject matter, I hit Erick up for an interview.


Did you have any formal art training?


I like to make things — art, music, videos, anything, really, that satisfies my creative itch. I trained with Chesapeake Bay maritime artist C. Keith Whitelock when I was growing up, and that was the spark that ignited my passion for the Eastern Shore. I got on-the-job training designing and making silkscreen prints for Chesapeake Screen Printing during my high school and college years. I graduated in 1989 from UMBC, where I studied graphic design, illustrating and lettering before the era of computers.


It’s interesting that you have decided to pursue your work on the Eastern Shore where so many other artists might have gravitated to major metropolitan areas or what have you. Can you talk some about your decision to settle in Salisbury?


After my first year of college, I dreamed of working for an advertising agency on Madison Avenue. After my second year of college, I decided working for an advertising agency in Baltimore would be a better fit. After my third year of college, I longed to come home, to return to the Shore. Most people believe the place they live is special, and I appreciate that, but after traveling all across the United States, I feel the Eastern Shore truly is unique. So many others agree, and I believe that’s why my artwork resonates — it’s a reminder of all the good things about life on the Delmarva Peninsula. I can’t imagine living or making art any place else.


I see on your site that you have been at it for some time, but I only became aware of your work recently. Has anything changed or have you been creating more retail products or something? I swear I used to have the hardest time finding really good postcards on Chincoteague and the Eastern Shore!


I’ve been creating Eastern Shore-themed silkscreen prints and stationery since the summer of 2011. Prior to that, I worked 22 years in the newsroom of the Salisbury paper. When the recession hit and the newspaper industry began circling the drain, I decided it was time for Plan B. I was in my mid-40s and figured if I was ever to strike out as an artist, the time was now. My family supported me, and after two years of planning, researching and building a print shop over my garage, I gave my notice and launched a new career. Ever since, I’ve worked full-time (and then some) designing, printing, packaging, framing, marketing, shipping, accounting — every aspect of the business. I’m a one-man shop.


Any particular influences on your style? A lot of it reminds me somewhat of WPA park posters.


Yes, definitely the WPA artists of the late 1930s. Those designs were also printed using silkscreens, so the process and style are similar. I’ve been a lifelong fan of Joseph Craig English, who makes incredible silkscreen prints of scenes in the Washington, D.C. area. I’m a great fan of Norman Rockwell, for his ability to tell the great stories of regular Americans. I also find great inspiration in the simple but powerful work turned out for decades by Hatch Show Print in Nashville.

 

Can you talk some about your inspiration process — some of the art appears to have been originally commissioned or created to a specific end but some of it seems like random appreciation.


You are correct. I set out to produce nine or 10 new editions each year. Most of those are targeted to certain markets or events. I have great dealers in Chincoteague, Cambridge, Oxford, Berlin and Snow Hill, all of whom I try to keep happy with fresh stock. I’m also involved in some fantastic shows in Oxford and Bethany Beach, which I create new work for each year. So the market does drive the subject matter, to some extent. But it’s not all business, and a number of pieces were created from my desire to celebrate what’s close to my heart. The Stock Car Races print is one. The old Memorial Stadium print is another.


Are you a big Smith Island Cake fan? If so, what flavor is the best?


I’m a traditionalist — I prefer the yellow cake with chocolate icing, like the one in my print. But the carrot cake version is pretty fine too.


How often do you eat scrapple?


As often as possible! Brisk fall mornings are perfect for scrapple. I like it on toast with scrambled egg and melted cheese.


In all seriousness though, you have several prints based around the local edible specialties, care to comment any further on what these things mean to you either as graphic inspiration or even personally?


Tracy, my wife, is a foodie. Each summer we travel across the U.S. with our two girls and a big dog-eared book called “Road Food” by Michael and Jane Stern. We have driven hours off the main route for a pile of ribs, or barbecue, or even some hot dogs. So we really appreciate local food — and usually the more low-brow, the better. That’s what initially drove my “Delmarva’s Finest” collection, which features blue crabs, Chincoteague and Choptank oysters and Smith Island Cake. My Scrapple design — a parody of the Apple Computer logo — was a one-off for the annual Apple-Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville, Del.


Your postcards/posters nearly create a travel brochure for Delmarva. Can you outline an ideal day or weekend spent traveling around the region?


You can travel one hour from Salisbury in any direction and be in heaven. Rehoboth, Bethany, Ocean City, Assateague, Chincoteague, Onancock, Crisfield, Deal Island, Hooper Island, Cambridge, Oxford, St. Michaels. Take your pick — and they all have dynamite places to eat along the way. My don’t-misses would include a pint of Indian Brown Ale at Dogfish Head in Milton, Del.; Thrasher’s french fries on the Ocean City Boardwalk; scoops of Java Jolt and Marsh Mud at the Island Creamery in Chincoteague, Va.; the flounder platter at Metompkin Seafood in Mappsville, Va.; the Buffalo wings at Adam’s Taphouse in Fruitland, Md.; and a maple doughnut at Bay Country Bakery in Cambridge.


I see you have a Chesapeake Retriever — Maryland pride or just by chance?


That’s funny — his name is Chance. I was a UMBC Retriever, but actually my fondness for Chessies goes way back. My “Offseason” print shows me with our Chesapeake Bay retriever on the beach at 53rd Street in Ocean City in the spring of 1972. They’re a great breed — smart, loyal, independent — and a perfect fit for life on the Eastern Shore.You can’t keep them out of the water.


View more artwork, buy prints or contact Erick Sahler at 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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