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Meet Erika Givens of GLEAUX art photo design

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erika Givens.

Erika, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in Marin County with a fascination for drawing and building Lego cities. Focused on becoming an urban planner, I graduated UC Santa Barbara (Environmental Studies/Political Science) but the pull toward art eventually lead me to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After graduating, I landed at the Nokia Design Center in Los Angeles to work as a Senior Graphic Designer for the Asia Pacific region. I later moved on to other creative pursuits at various design firms in the Bay Area. My corporate experience at the time spanned from art direction, graphic design, and copywriting, to branding, identity, exhibit and multimedia design. Several of my projects found recognition in various publications worldwide, like I.D. Magazine and one earned a spot in the New York Film Festival.

In 2004, I got an itch to venture out of the corporate world and whip up a little fun on my own. I launched GLEAUX (pronounced *glow*), an uber-custom San Francisco-based stationery and invitation design studio. Here, I (along with the help of my wonderful non-artsy husband) spent years of grueling, but strangely satisfying, late nights masterminding and meticulously hand-assembling elaborate, out-of-the-box paper creations. Before I knew it, without ever spending a dime on advertising, a feature story in the SF Chronicle Magazine and mentions in the Oakland Tribune, InStyle, SF Magazine, 7×7, and NBC’s Today Show carried me the rest of the way. : )

After relocating to San Diego in 2012 along with that wonderful husband Chad, and three young children, Luke, Reid and Brooklyn, I expanded my studio to include fine art, typographic art, illustration, sculptural wall art, and home decor. My bright and colorful home-based art studio in Del Sur is where I craft the fresh and original creations I sell all over the world via my GLEAUX online shop ( and other popular online retailers. I also work as a photographer, using my graphic designer’s eye to frame and capture the essence of a moment or a subject, and turn it into art.

In 2018, my goal as both artist & photographer is to embark on a personal journey to study, practice, and celebrate the ART OF SEEING. Whenever possible, I get in a car or plane and go until I’m out of the “bubble” where I can sit quietly or wander, mostly unnoticed, with my camera or sketchbook. Here I can really witness and absorb the vibrations of the coarser, sometimes forgotten, more organic, unpolished, and un-zoned corners of life. I return home with a full range of emotion, appreciation and courage to create from deep within… to let expectation, judgment, market research, and pressure to follow popular trends, just fall away… to create unconsciously.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The journey so far has been mostly smooth but not without its bumps. I am very much a type A personality and a chronic nitpicker, both obsessed and haunted by the minutiae, the details, and the precision in the creative process, I often put such emphasis on its rigid perfection that it overshadows the end result! So I try every day to let go a little, relax, flow, and trust a bit more in the organic universe.

Also, being my own marketing department and mastering the ever-changing world of social media has had it’s rough patches and do-overs. Presenting a cohesive and consistent brand to the world, especially when you love experimenting with diverse genres, styles, mediums, themes, and moods presents an on-going challenge!

GLEAUX art photo design – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
At GLEAUX, I work with clients whose commissions range from fine art pieces and installations to candid, portrait, fine art, lifestyle, and travel photography. In fine art, my work illuminates organic, abstract, natural forms, architectural structures, shapes, geometry, and micro-patterns. Because my artwork is not so much about grandeur, depth, or immensity of meaning or ideas, it can often be quite un-sensational in that it merely magnifies, in a unique way, life’s details, subtleties, systems, and patterns. In my photographic work, I try to illuminate the core, soul or raw interior of a thing or person. When my subjects and I just happen to be the right fit, I get a chance to break thru their wall a little to reveal their quieter, awkward, or unique side which is incredibly fulfilling as a visual storyteller!

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Beyond awards, press, presence in popular retail environments, likes, shares, followers etc., which all have their own value and place in my journey as an artist, the single proudest moment of my career has been hearing my children say they either love art or want to be an artist. Ahhh, bucket filled. : )

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