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Meet Erik Perez of The Art of Erik Perez in Southside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erik Perez.

Erik, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When I was in kindergarten, every week my teacher would put on a TV program that showed children how to match shapes with objects, in order to achieve what wanted to draw. Ecstatic by what I had learned, I began to apply those simple techniques to my pieces and there began my passion for art. My first two drawings were of the host on the TV program we would watch in class and the other of a local cat who was stuck up a tree in our neighborhood. Whether I was at school or at home you could always find me with a pencil and paper doodling or drawing some new creatures and characters.

Upon entering Gage Park high school, I was introduced to New Expressions. It was a teen publication produced by Columbia College and distributed to most public and Catholic high schools in Chicago. I volunteered as an illustrator and was thrilled when the opportunity came up to assist with graphic design and publication layouts. Within the first year of becoming part of the design team, I was promoted to Assistant Art and Design Editor. My new position helped develop my leadership skills by heading team meetings and assisting the editor periodically.

Working with New Expressions inspired me to continue to develop my skills as a graphic design and illustrator. Upon graduation from high school, I applied for and was accepted into the School of Graphic Design and Multimedia at Westwood College during the winter of 2002.

Westwood College, its professors and various faculty, introduced me to a world of computer graphics and illustration. The levels of creativity you could soar with was limitless once you applied yourself and learned the tools and applications of our trade. Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and Dreamweaver! These were the tools I needed to digitally visualize what I previously only saw in my mind. My passion grew and with that my learning spilled outside of the classroom. I spent countless hours at home training and learning far beyond my classroom assignments. Eventually, my hard work was noticed and I became a teacher’s assistant and earned my degree as one of the top designers in my graduating class.

When I design, I don’t believe in producing less than perfect artwork. Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished. Only abandoned.” This to me is very true…I can always go back and add something to my pieces.

In 2012 I returned to Westwood College to further my education with a BA in Game Art and Design. Learning new software and updating my technique my skills and mindset have helped me become the graphic artist I am today.

Has it been a smooth road?
I wish my artistic journey was smooth, I have worked nonstop over the past decade full time at various graphic print shops. Also working with my own clientele during the evening hours and on weekends to help build a name for myself as a graphic artist. I love seeing different styles and techniques other artists use to help bring their pieces alive. I never limit myself to one style or art form, I’ve drawn a comic book/strips, designed marketing promotional materials, vehicle wraps, and hundreds of bus bench advertisements. Just recently I wrote and illustrated my own children’s series of books based on my children. I have dedicated many countless hours honing my craft and have fallen asleep at my desk in my studio more times than I can count.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Art of Erik Perez story. Tell us more about the business.
The Art of Erik Perez is a graphics arts company that caters to all types of people and businesses. I help bring my clients ideas to life, I would meet with them and get to know them and their business and what look and feel they’re trying to convey. Then depending on the project, I send them a pencil sketch or a quick render of their item to see if I’m doing their vision justice.

I am known in the political community for designing flyers and posters for State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford. On the north side by Humboldt Park, you may have seen a food trailer wrapped with a giant Coquí on it for LaBomba Restaurant, I have designed anything and everything for them for the past 10 years. Items which include two large trailer wraps, a vehicle wrap, takeout/table menus, and marketing materials. I have also created exhibition signs, lunchroom murals and illustrated the “Meinstein” character for SciTech Hands-On Museum in Aurora. As well as designing a coloring activity book for Mayor Tom Weisner of Aurora.

I am especially proud that my clients have trust in me, and my work to let me sometimes share my thoughts and ideas in their visions. I deliver a top-notch experience and create a look and feel that sets my clients aside from the competition. I want people to think a team of designers from a major design studio worked on their branding, when in actuality it was a single designer, delivering a killer design at a reasonable price.

My artistic skill delivers any imagined look and concept, from children’s cartoon characters, elegant wedding and anniversary invitations to video game graphics and assets.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see the graphics industry innovating technology driving software and apps to find the truly passionate graphic artists that can actually manipulate graphics and create something new. Something other than your usual cookie cutter graphic flyer or business card that you can find everywhere else. I try to keep my clients work fresh, vibrant and clean, something that will help them stand out as an individual and a company. My clients know I live by my slogan, “Follow your imagination” …it hasn’t failed me yet.

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