Psychedelic doesn't even begin to describe the hallucinatory concoctions of artist Eric Howard. Working in illustration and an array of different styles of painting, Howard's works obey no discernible laws of nature or any art history standard of composition or technique. They are utterly and unmistakably singular.
There is always a sense of uncertainty as to what is before you when looking at Howard's work. At a first glimpse, his painting Oracle—a collaboration with fellow artist Ben Ridgway—looks like an array of DJ equipment on acid, but its perfect symmetry, exotic colors, and strange central membrane allude to some kind of otherworldly being, rather than turntables. The further you scroll through the images on his Instagram, the further you plunge into magical confusion. Does Synthesis depict the plumage of a peacock or chimeric alien foliage? Is Nexus Array revealing a hieroglyphic alien language or is it pure abstraction? There are no direct answers to be found.
Despite the exotic perplexity inherent in his work, Howard draws most of his inspiration from concrete things around him and topics he's researched and studied. "The earliest beginnings of the work are rooted in an obsession with drawing and sketching. From an early age, I kept a sketchbook and pencil near me at all times," he tells Creators. "I've always enjoyed studying patterns in nature, skeletal shapes, insects, foliage, clouds, and other forms, which provided ample inspiration for explorations in drawing and eventually painting."
"In time, through various experiences and learning, I began to see how these natural patterns and interestingly designed things were related in shape and form to the underlying algorithm which permeates all of nature," Howard adds, philosophically. "I began to create as an homage to that natural beauty. In my experiments and efforts to create according to these design principles and to channel the most authentic novelty I could muster through my brush, my work found roots in psychedelic realms."
The uniqueness of Howard's work is perhaps also related to his position as an "outsider artist" and his abnormal living situation. "In my studio, I'm isolated in a rural area and away from any established 'scene' or circle of working artists," the artist says. "I was content to paint for a long time with only very few people seeing my works."
But an entirely reclusive artist is hard-pressed to acquire an Instagram following of over 27K. "At the urging of a few close friends, I finally caved and shared some images on social media in 2013. I found, as a result, that I had underestimated how inspiring it is to interact and see other artists pumping out their magic, both on a regular basis in social media interactions, and especially in person any time I make it out to an event, a festival, one of my friends' shows, and my own exhibitions. I still rarely make it out, but I relish the opportunity to do so when my schedule allows."