Erika B Hess is the founder and host of I Like Your Work, an arts podcast and online gallery platform
What are some of your first memories of feeling passionately towards the arts and when did you decide to pursue a career in art?
Like many artists, I always felt a pull towards creating through drawing. I remember sitting at my Great Aunt’s house as a kid drawing with my cousin from California who is also an artist. We would have “drawing contests” and I would always look forward to them because he was the only other person in my family who would draw with me.
My decision to truly pursue the arts came to me two-fold. The first was during my time in college when I realized I was spending all my time in the studio rather than in my “major” classes. The second was when I was fortunate enough to travel to Italy to paint with my BFA program. I fell in love with painting. Looking, responding, carrying my easel around on my back, it felt like home. I even wrote in a sketchbook, “Remember this feeling.”
I Like Your Work is quite the platform- You conduct podcast interviews, feature Studio Visit Artists and group exhibitions, as well as offer artist resources. How did the idea for this platform initially come about?
In 2015, I was a co-founder of an artist collective, Musa Collective, in Boston and it was a powerful experience. Putting together shows, artist talks, openings...everyone was so passionate! As we all know, there are tremendous artists in the world who don’t get the air time they deserve. I wanted to create a platform to share the work and ideas of artists who I wanted others to see.
At the time I had been listening to a lot of podcasts and noticed there weren't many art podcasts by women, which, thankfully there are now tons. I told my friend, the artist Nina Bellucci, about my idea and she looked at me and said, “Well why not just start it?” I had been making excuses for why I didn’t have the time to do it and that hit home for me. Just start it. So I did.
You are the founder and podcast host for I Like Your Work - what is it like sharing your creation with a team of other professionals?
It is such a positive experience. I have been able to connect with incredible artists who are not only talented but compassionate, kind and fun to engage with. In the beginning it was really nerve racking to know people were listening to me. That feeling is still somewhat there but I’ve learned to lean into it. I realize it is more a feeling of excitement than a negative thing.
Since its inception, has ILYW turned out to be how you originally envisioned it?
Not at all! Originally I thought it would be a podcast and that was it. Over the three seasons it has expanded to include exhibitions, featured Studio Visit Artist interviews on the site, Exhibition Catalogs and now we have expanded to have select Interview Catalogs which include the interview and images of work.
Each season we have grown to give listeners more resources and opportunities. I love that and I guess, in that way, we have stayed true to our roots. We are a voice and space for artists.
You are also a painter. Has running a business impacted your studio time at all?
Yes it has but all the work I’ve done outside of painting has impacted my studio time. For a few years I worked at University of Michigan at a full-time job. I loved it but it was hard to be in the studio. I love that now I record in the studio so I am surrounded by my paintings and look at them as I have amazing conversations with artists who are creating incredible work. So while it does take away from time in the studio it also adds depth.
What do you find most rewarding about the curation process?
Definitely connecting with artists and finding new work that is exciting. For some exhibitions I conduct studio visits in person or via zoom to learn more about their practice. In a lot of ways it is like a mini podcast interview. It is developing that relationship that I find the most rewarding. I love the art world. It is relatively small and we are all doing this thing that makes a lot of sense and no sense at all. Talking to someone who understands that and knowing I will continue to see their work expand is amazing to me.
What are some of the challenges that you face?
The main challenge is time, which I feel most artists face. As we’ve expanded into new projects we need more time to create them. I hit a point where I couldn’t continue to do it all so I’ve brought on some wonderful people to help with the show.
In terms of the submission process, are there any areas for improvement artists should be aware of?
Overall a lot of the submissions we received are really wonderful. I always say that I’m humbled by how many talented artists are in the world. I think the main thing artists should be aware of is you can have the “perfect” submission and not get into a show. Making sure you are applying to something that fits your work is really important.
Do you have future plans for I Like Your Work beyond what it is today?
Over the next year we are creating more tangible content such as catalogs and other physical objects. We are also launching a subscription where artists can get catalogs and other awesome stuff sent straight to their door! I feel like the pandemic has made me crave physical objects and the catalogs are such a great way to see work when you can’t make it out.