Summer Stars, Staged

Well it’s July! That means it’s time for another round of Inspiration. This month I wanted to feature my piece “Summer Stars” It’s been just over a year since it’s completion, and I haven’t really talked much about it. 

Let’s Change that! 

Where Did The Idea For Summer Stars Come From?

I started working on this piece during a transitional period in my life that spanned a few years. 

Here’s a quick history lesson. 

I took myself back to school to study graphic design. I graduated in 2016 with honours, and continued to work part time in hospitality for a few more years. Eventually the industry roped me back into full time hours, and I became complacent. 

I had been freelancing since graduating and I started to struggle balancing the two. Hospitality was taking up all of my time. With long, and unusual hours. It started to have a negative impact on the quality of my work and the level of creativity I was displaying. It didn’t help that my bosses constantly made me feel guilty for putting myself first, and letting my team down. 

I started to feel stuck in my life. I hated my career in hospitality. I don’t say that lightly. I still have nightmares about the work and some of the things I experienced. I swear I still hear the phone ringing when its quiet. 

I hated how the employees were treated, I disliked how I constantly felt taken advantage of. I was unhappy, and under-appreciated in the job. I gave that industry almost ten years of my life, and I have very little to show for it. 

With that said it wasn’t all bad, I had to experience it to know it’s not what I wanted. 

I distinctly remember driving into work and an old song called “silhouette” by Owl City came up on shuffle. I never gave it much attention in the past but it resonated with me in that moment. I think that’s when I finally decided I had had enough. I know I didn’t have the courage to flat out quit, but the wheels had started turning. I started to visualize all of these feelings. I started to plan this piece near the end of summer 2018. 

This piece helped me work my way through a lot of those emotions. I’m sure at this point my old coworkers started to see a shift in my priorities. It helped me find the courage to start considering a career in the arts full time and actively searching out opportunities.  

It took a while, but I finally left that job near the end of June 2019 to chase what I actually love doing. 

The Personal Meaning 

This piece means a great deal to me. 

You’ve all likely seen the comic I draw every second Thursday. The Somewhat Daily Adventures of Bur. 

The bear in this piece is supposed to represent myself. 

The setting of the piece lands us sometime just after twilight. Deep in a forest. Representing the lost feelings I was having and the end of a chapter in my life. 

I decided the tree needed to be a Birch. Mainly Because they represent new beginnings, regeneration, hope, and the promise of what’s to come. 

The bear is sitting beneath the tree looking up into the branches. Taking a moment to rest, gazing up into the branches looking for guidance. 

Nestled in the tree you’ll find three birds carrying stars. Harbingers of hope, or the “summer stars” arriving to guide me home. My favourite lyrics from the song I mentioned earlier. 

It’s set deep in a forest. Portraying how I felt lost. 

All in All this piece represents for me my past, where I’ve come, where I am, and where I want to be. 

Proof that with enough effort you can make changes towards a better future. 

Details About The Piece

Summer Stars was painted with watercolour, and a little ink. So technically it’s a mixed media painting. 

The original measures 8”x 20”

It is set in a custom wooden frame, and completed to a museum standard. 

The outside measurements of the frame are 16”x28”

I would love to see this piece find itself a good home. 

As of today, prints are not available of this piece. If you want me to change my mind, let me know. 

Thanks for stopping by and going down memory lane with me. 

Stay Creative,

Justin Erickson 

Categories: Inspiration

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