Eric Staller has created art pieces that have spanned 30 plus years that have captured glimpses of his subconscious and his surroundings. Being a veteran in the art community, Eric’s art has continued to challenge and amaze audiences of all ages and walks of life. His forward thinking has set a path for the artist to dig deep and create art that pushes the envelope and sparks the thought of the unknown. I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric on his amazing career and how his imagination has influenced the art he has created. This is his story…


Q. At what age did you begin your artistic journey and what steps did you take to hone your craft?

 A. I was working toward my degree at the University of Michigan, when I was ‘born an artist’, in 1970. The ideas just started coming to me, calling out my name, tickling me until I gave in. I intuitively felt that all materials and methods were fair game for my work. First I wanted to paint, but I had no facility and no time for orthodoxies. I jacked up my car and with a paint roller, painted the tires and then drove all over my canvas. It was exhilarating and immediate. While still in architecture school I wanted to make a wall of dollar bills. Just to see it. And for the finishing touch I hired a pair of rent-a-cops to stand guard. After 3 days I took the wall apart and returned the money to the bank.


Q. You are quoted on your website as saying, “An artist is what he culturally eats, or is immersed in”. In what cultural surrounding have you found your art to flourish the most?

 A. My 20 years in NYC are the foundation of my inspiration and output. I then moved to Amsterdam where I lived from 1994-2010. That’s where I wrote the quote above. I was amazed at the effect on my work that living in Europe had. In New York I felt I had to make art that was big and loud and in Amsterdam I was inspired to make art that was small and quiet. I moved to San Francisco in 2010 and am amazed again at how my work is changing as a result of the move.


Q. Your involvement in the art community has spanned many years. What has been the most exciting development you have witnessed in the evolution of art?

 A. Only art that challenges the status quo is of interest to me. Art has to push the envelope of what is considered art. Christo is doing that with his gifts to the public of his temporary installations.


Q. I am a big fan of your light drawings and light sculptures that you created in the 70s and 80s. What inspired those pieces and do you plan to create more?

A. I was interested in other-worldly architectures of light; something that’s there but not there. I took that series as far as I could and moved on before beginning to repeat myself. I don’t plan to go back there. It’s the unknown that interests me.


Q. Your Light Mobile has to be one of your most recognizable pieces. What does the piece mean to you as an artist and what does it symbolize in regards to your career?

A. My Lightmobile in 1985 was probably my most powerful moment as an artist. I drove it around NYC on more than 100 nights, looking into the startled and delighted faces of hundreds of thousands of people. That inspired me to want to share my art with a cross-section of the public and not just the art world cognoscenti. This was the beginning of a continuing series of what I call 'urban UFOs'. 


Q. What sparked the idea for Octos and why did you decide to turn it into an actual product for people to use?

A. All of my ideas bubble up from my subconscious, in formed by observations of the world around me.  My first 4 urban UFOs were lighted objects. Octos was a conscious decision to reach a daytime audience. It was also informed by the oil crises of 1990: a metaphor for travel in the post-petroleum age. When I moved to Amsterdam, the biking capitol of the western world, there was such enthusiasm for Octos that I decided to develop it into a product. They are now built in my small factory in Germany and there are 300+ in 18 countries. They are used for tourism, corporate team-building, school, church and family events. They are also being used by deaf/blind organizations and the Veterans Administration is beginning to use one for rehab and wellness programs.


Q. What has being an artist helped you to discover about yourself?

A. I didn’t choose to be an artist; it chose me. It is a calling, a religious feeling, and a compulsion to peel away layers of a subconscious onion. It’s a mystery to me where the ideas come from. It is the idea that initially appears the most absurd that I am ultimately compelled to build. 




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