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Kaya, Erin

Kaya, Erin

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grew up in Chicago, I was always drawing and painting – I invented cartoons called Funny Tummy Bears, squares all over notebooks, even all over the walls and carpet in my bedroom.  I started getting into photography in Junior High and began taking my camera everywhere and photographed everyone. I studied art at the University of Kansas and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree.

After graduating, I began my career in high end retail as I was fascinated how art and fashion work together. I continued to paint as much as possible while working with some amazing designers and brands with Cynthia Rowley, Neiman Marcus, and Zara. I moved into visuals continuing to bridge the gap between fashion and art leading the visual department at Marshall Fields. 

Throughout my fashion career, I continued to paint and focus on my own personal expression of art. I was always talking about it and always coming up with different ideas how I could translate fashion and my overall creative ideas into my own paintings. Cynthia Rowley and Marshall Fields, along with several other local stores started to hang my art throughout their stores

In 2005, I began traveling throughout Europe, Turkey, and Africa. I taught art to children in Tanzania, Africa. Those children and experiences changed the way I view the earth and opened my eyes to the meaning of creating art. I truly love traveling; learning about different cultures, meeting people and learning about their beliefs.

Turkey has made a major impact in my life in many ways, including art. I met my husband while traveling in Turkey and we lived there for 3 years where I opened a boutique store selling my own art. I continued to paint and paint  – from signs, to necklaces, and even a huge activity bus (so much fun!) I learned a new technique called marbling, which is paint floating in water and fell in love with this new form of expression. I would create marbling art pieces, photograph it, and then turn it into prints, cards, and other forms of merchandise. I found a corporate dealer who helped distribute my art throughout Turkey and Chicago showing me how art and business could be combined and where it could take me. My husband Ridvan and I lived on the beach in Turkey, and I made a life making and selling my own art.

When I came back from living abroad, I began working at Pinstripes as their marketing director. I continued to show and sell my art around Chicago mainly via word of mouth, and when I showed the owners of Pinstripes, things started to take off. They loved my paintings – they purchased over 13 pieces and hung them through their many locations across the country.    

After my daughter was born in 2009, I decided to focus strictly on painting full time. I wanted to teach her that you can do whatever you want to do in your life. I started displaying paintings locally then branched out throughout Chicago having my paintings displayed and sold in art galleries, restaurants, boutique stores, hotels, bars, libraries, and even Starbucks. I painted murals, restaurant walls, abstract custom pieces for businesses and individuals, and even the occasional Disney princess.

I started to gain a following and had both businesses and families ask to buy my art. I developed a social media following and my clientele shared the pieces in their homes and businesses. I began to get requests from around the country for my paintings and custom pieces.

Soon I was chosen to show my art Thomas Masters Gallery, a staple in the Chicago art scene. I have been commissioned to paint for Golub Capital in both their Chicago and New York offices. I work closely with many interior designers throughout the city for residential and commercial pieces. I sell through District, a modern home design studio in Chicago, as well as direct. I love bringing my art to homes and businesses allowing people to see the art in their home.

There are several nonprofits and charities that touch close to home for me. One of them is Erika’s Lighthouse, where I donate a painting each year to raise awareness for depression and anxiety. I am proud to say the paintings (to date) have helped raise over $11,000 and all proceeds go to them. My most exciting news recently is that I just launched wallpaper with Area Environments and am now represented by Shayne Gallery in Montreal, Canada.

As my Aunt recently said, “ you have put in the work, now is your time.” I am so grateful for all the amazing excitement and love for my work from family, friends, and clients. 

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