In the Studio with Erin Carle

HomeStudio Visits

Today we are virtually meeting Erin Carle, an american surrealist painter whose work is based on the female experience. Born in Houston Texas, she grew up around a bustling art scene.
Inspired by pop art, she uses optical patterns to create a liminal space that hosts vibrantly colored figurative subjects. The combination of optical illusion and figurative forms creates a unique visual experience in which the viewer is meant to feel unstable or overwhelmed.

Walk us through your academic experience. How do you think your education shaped your career?

I received my BFA in studio art with an emphasis in painting in the spring of 2022 from Texas State University. My experience there is still very fresh and it definitely helped me define myself as an artist. With heavy studies in art history, I was able to gain an abundant amount of knowledge that I now apply to my practice. Being mentored by so many vastly successful artists really helped me develop my unique subject matter and style.

What is indispensable while working in your studio?

I would say good lighting is indispensable in my studio. I hand sketch and paint all of my optical patterns which makes lighting so important.  Working with such tedious backgrounds and a high-contrast color pallet my work requires a well-lit space so I do not miss even the tiniest mistake.

Erin Carle, Life and Death, 2020 | available here on

How do you define yourself within the creative industry?

I define myself as an artist, but to dive deeper I would say I am an experimental surrealist painter.

Who are your favorite artists and who are the ones that built your creative imaginary?

I have a huge love for female surrealists. Their work was so underappreciated in their time and it really stood up against the sexism of the male-dominated surrealist movement. I would say, Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning, and Kay Sage are the most influential in my work. My work has also been impacted by the optical art movement of the 1950s, most notably the work of Bridget Riley.

Erin Carle, Down The Rabbit Hole, 2021 | available here on

What is your relationship with social media and how do you use them?

Social media has been a huge tool for me in my career. It has brought me many opportunities and allows my work to be seen by anyone. I think social media is somewhat of a necessity for artists now which can be good and bad. I use my social media on almost a daily basis to promote my work and connect with other artists to gain inspiration and community.

How do you research materials for your creative process?

My process for sourcing imagery is different for every painting. I always start in photoshop to create the optical background. A tedious ritual of pulling and layering black and white forms. From there it becomes a choice of photography or collage for my figurative imagery. I enjoy taking my own photos because it makes me feel more involved in the process.

Written by
Anna Frattini