I first found out about EGR – a visual artist, a few months back when I logged into my Facebook account. I saw the initials and a link to the artist’s work mentioned in my feed, so I let my nosiness get the better of me and I clicked onto the link. Damn, I’m glad I did! The website gave me a good look at EGR’s very funky, political and even sassy graffiti style artwork. It was incredibly cool. So cool in fact, I have since become a fan of her work.
FYI – I’m a MAJOR fan of graffiti and street art. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I grew up during the birth of hip hop and graffiti art was a huge element of the movement. Tons of vividly splashed artwork made its way on buildings, walls, and t-shirts. To me, graffiti isn’t just random tags strewn on a building- it’s a legit expression of art.
That’s probably one of the reasons why I was drawn to EGR’s work. I’m pretty sure the other reason was because of this image (image to the right). I love it! I love that the girl in the pic is owning her sexy. Thank you EGR for creating such a badass image that will no doubt become my new profile pic!
Since I made a definite connection with her work, the next step for me was to reach out to the talented artist.
Due to her busy schedule, we weren’t able to meet in person, but we were able to make a connection via email. Here’s her story.
Name: Erica Balon
Hometown: Burlington, Ontario
Astrological Sign: Capricorn
How did you come up with the moniker EGR?
EGR was first a play off of my initials, (which have since changed) however I originally started in graffiti writing “Eager.” It was my frame of mind. I abbreviated it soon after, making it simpler and more androgynous. Old schoolers still call me Eager.
Where do your ideas and concepts for your artwork come from?
Basically, ideas are everywhere. I am inspired by current events and the state of the world, fashion, street art, hip hop culture, indie rock, my dreams and emotions. It comes from a basic desire to connect with people.
Where has your work been featured?
My work was first published in The Globe & Mail and Toronto Star newspapers. After receiving a huge advertorial spread in Honey magazine back in 2000, I moved to Toronto where my mural work and live painting gained recognition via MuchMusic and events like Style In Progress. My work has been featured in Elemental magazine, POUND, Urbanology, UK’s Graphotism; Graffiti World and Graffiti Women books, and on album covers for IRS, Brassmunk, Gyles and Afu Ra. One of my favourite paintings, Evolution of Graffiti and Revolt (EGR), currently is on display, upstairs at Harlem on Richmond and Queen.
Graffiti art is typically done by males. Have you ever been told that “girls don’t do graffiti art?”
There have been misconceptions that EGR is a guy, and I love it because it points out the stereotypes that still exist and might make some look at the work differently, whether I am male or female. My moniker is androgynous and I like that. When someone thinks I am male it can be a double edged sword. If I “paint like a girl,” whatever that means, it says nothing of the talent of so many amazing female artists busting their asses to gain recognition in a male based culture.
When I started out it was hard to have courage. I was lucky to see Air and Star (female Graffiti artists) paint at a 416 Graffiti Expo, and have other female artists in my circle. The more female artists, the easier it is for the next young artists.
How has graffiti evolved over the years?
Styles are more worldwide. With the internet, it is no longer the case that certain countries or areas would have their own graffiti styles; now everything is global. There has been an explosion of creativity and street art has branched out into many forms and niches.
I think the word graffiti is one of those words with many meanings, some associate it with vandalism and to some it’s a style. It is still a rebellious art form and always will be. I think it’s still in its rock n roll stage of being outlawed.
Tell me about your involvement with the Art Gallery Of Ontario.
Over the years I have participated in events at the AGO, from HYPE events (Helping Young People Excel), Manifesto Community Projects and even live painting for Nuit Blanche via BeautifulCity.ca. I recently began to facilitate an Aerosol Art Workshop at an after school program called Free After Three, which aims to engage and inspire youth with break dancing, spoken word and aerosol/graffiti workshops. The sessions have finished for now, but they will begin again in July 2014.
What do you want accomplish with your artwork?
Over the past few years I have been overcome by the disparity of our world; the incongruence between the rich and poor; our planet’s ecology versus the earth’s demise; the destruction of war, etc. I know my art can do nothing to solve these issues but I do believe that there is a possibility that if every individual does their part, great change can begin to happen. For me, art is one of the main ways I communicate and I believe that visual language is universal. I would love to be able to cultivate hope and beauty in my work, with a realness and grittiness that accepts and acknowledges that our time here is limited, and exists with both light and darkness. It’s what we do with our time that makes us who we are.
I love that EGR is trying to enlighten and bring about change through her art. Very inspirational.
If you would like to see more of EGR’s work, visit www.EGRart.com, or if you live in the TDOT – take a walk in the city. Some of her street art is located in Kensington Market, Queen Street, between Keele and Dundas Station among other areas.
Want more EGR? Check out her links