Lunch Note Sketch

Monday Motivation with Erica Allen

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Today's motivation can be found in the talents of stay-at-home mom, Erica Allen. As a baker, musician, and now illustrator, she has been inspiring creativity in her two children by creating fun illustrations on the napkins they get for lunch. You can find more of Erica's work on Instagram.

Tell me a little bit about your background... Who you are; what made you interested in art?

I'm a Florida native - and just recently moved from our longtime home of Tampa, to North Georgia with my family. I stay at home with our two preschoolers, Van (5) and Mabel (almost! 4), which I consider such a blessing after working 10 years in advertising. I've always considered myself a creative person and have always appreciated the arts - finding outlets in random crafts as a kid, and now channeling that into baking, music and drawing as an adult.

Who are your current art inspirations and how do they affect your artistic process?

I have definitely found inspiration from my husband - he's a graphic designer, and in my opinion, the true artist of our family. My kids, of course, with their wild imaginations and desire to create, always inspire me, too. And this crazy world of social media amazes me sometimes. I've been in awe of all the talent that is out there from "ordinary" people like me!

Why do you prefer to work on napkins?

When I started sketching on my son's first lunch napkins last year, I was hooked. I like to challenge myself to see what I can do with just a simple fine-tipped Sharpie pen and a plain napkin. The texture of it lends to more than I imagined - with the pen's chance to bleed and the risk of doing too much and tearing the silly thing. Ha! Plus, there's the added benefit of it serving a dual purpose - dirty hand cleaner and lunchtime smile-maker.

What are your thoughts on the art community in your area?

Since we've only been up in Georgia for less than a year, I'm still learning my way around! We do have a huge bucket list of sites to see in Atlanta (The Beltline, High Museum of Art, MOCA GA), and we're also excited about the small arts and crafts festivals that will pop up in North GA. These sometimes lead to the most inspiring and fun artistic finds - we went to a craft fair around the holidays and discovered the panjo. It's a three-string instrument made from a cake pan and is amazing! I know that art is all around us, I just need to get out there and soak it in.

How did your children change your life, both personally/professionally and as an artist? 

They've turned my world upside down! Obviously, all selfishness goes out the window when a child is added to your family (along with all sleep!), but what a joy they bring. I've loved getting to know these two little (well, big) personalities and watching how they grow and change. After our second was born, I left my full-time advertising job to stay home with the kids. I've been fortunate enough to still work from home part-time, as well as be there for all the craziness that two preschoolers brings. As an artist, I can honestly say that since I started the lunch notes, my drawing skills have definitely improved and this is the most I've ever drawn consistently. Of course, it was a trade-off, too, since I used to find more creative outlets in music (choral groups and a cover band!), but at least the napkin art is keeping my creative juices flowing.

How have they been involved in your art?

Well, I DO get napkin requests pretty frequently! And, if it isn't lunch-note related, at least one of my kids is constantly begging for paper/markers/glue/scissors/etc. Paint time is pretty common and we try to do little projects together for the holidays, too.

How has your background as an artist affected your kids? Do you think having an artist mom helps inspire their creativity?

I think they see the joy in art - from both my husband and I! Also, since we truly appreciate so many forms of art, they are surrounded by it - they go to museums, listen to music, dance, help decorate a crazy cake, paint - it's part of our every day life now, and I love that!

I would like to thank Erica for taking the time to participate in this interview. More importantly, I would like to thank her for using her artistic abilities to make a difference in her children's lives. Don't forget to show Erica some love on Instagram.

Is there a parent who is an artist you know who could provide us some Monday motivation? If so, please send their name and a link to their work (or social media account) to LunchNoteSketch@gmail.com, or tag them in any Monday motivation post on any of the Lunch Note Sketch social media pages. I would love to feature him/her.