Illustrating a Magical World
Erika Wiseman Hunter, or “@erikathegoober” as she’s known to her over 200,000 Instagram followers, is a local illustrator and character designer making a name for herself far beyond her hometown. She finds her inspiration in stylized video games, pop culture, and the animation of Disney artists. So, to borrow some inspirational words from her favorite Disney princess Rapunzel, “She’s got a dream,” and it’s in following her dream that she’s able to show her online followers that following their dreams has value, too.
Born and raised in the Louisville area, Erika grew up with a love for art. “I’ve always gravitated toward drawing. It’s something I always loved doing.” It was in middle school that she became interested more specifically in digital art. “I would see other people do art this way, and I wanted to know more,” Erika says. Simply put, digital art is art that’s made or presented using digital technology. The basic principle of creating art remains the same because “you’re drawing with a pencil on a digital screen just like you would on paper,” Erika says. As her love for this medium grew, she recognized that she enjoyed studying all the components that went into creating digital art. One of the aspects that drew her in was the immense potential digital art possessed. “There are many more style possibilities with digital art, because you can make your work look like a physical painting, or choose something totally different. You can choose a texture or something smooth,” Erika says.
Online tutorials helped her understand how to create in the world she loved so much. “All I’ve learned about digital art, like drawing in Photoshop, was all self-taught,” she says. Once her life’s dream became focused on following her artistic passions, she attended the University of Louisville, where she studied fine arts. It was here that she worked on “figure drawing and anatomy” to strengthen her character design and cartoon drawing skills.
Erika’s accomplished yet whimsical works showcase an artist who’s not afraid of bold color choices. Her characters all seem to share some universally happy secret, and these qualities have allowed her to become a full-time freelance artist. “It can take having a lot of different freelance projects to sustain your income,” Erika says. This is why her work can be viewed on many different websites and platforms, such as her erikathegoober site (where you can commission your own self-portrait), Instagram, Etsy, Patreon, and YouTube.
Her YouTube channel is where you can catch a glimpse into Erika’s creative process. With videos like How To Find Your Art Style and How To Color Sketches Digitally, Erika is sharing her knowledge with those who have an interest like she did when first starting. “I just want to help people. I learned everything about digital art through tutorials people put out on the Internet. I want to let people know what I know, like those people had done for me,” she says.
This giving attitude also inspires her to teach art classes and help other aspiring artists find their own paths. For those looking to develop their own online following, Erika suggests trying out several platforms first. “It’s really important to understand how the platform works so you can use that to your advantage.” Once you find the platform that’s best suited to your needs, Erika says to post consistently. This will help you develop a following and build your brand. Erika, like her favorite Disney heroine Rapunzel, is sharing her dream and her knowledge as she travels down her own creative path. Erika says, “draw what you love and realize you’re on your own artistic journey.”