Erika Long Interview - The Hopper Prize

Erika Long

Erika Long discusses making art since childhood, long stints in the darkroom, the necessity for sex positivity & inspiration derived from both Instagram and cinema.

How did you get into making art?

Honestly I’ve always made art, since I was a kid. I’ve always loved all mediums, but what got me into photography was when I moved to the US. I grew up in Greece and my school didn’t really have a photography program, but at 17 I moved to Detroit and my new school had an immaculate one coupled with an incredible teacher. To this day I attribute going into photography to how much she pushed me as an artist. There were days where I’d skip all my other classes to work in the darkroom all day— a group of us would sleep in the studio actually, haha. Not in any weird way but just because we were exhausted teenagers from working our asses off for the first time in our lives. That year I think she had 5 of us win national gold medals, so to have the support of someone from such a young age not just driving you to do better, but in the corner rooting for you was a catalyst unmatched for me.

What are you currently working on?

For the past year or so I’ve been working on photographing sex workers for a project aimed to raise funds for the SWOP; a nonprofit dedicated to destigmatizing the sex trade and ending violence against those who work within it.

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

At the end of the day, at the core of all my work is a belief in the necessity for sex positivity. I think if we were all open and positive and accepting there would be a lot less abuse in sex— something I care about very deeply.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

I work on separate projects with the exception of the longterm ones like the one I mentioned before. Some projects deserve a lifetime’s work, because change won’t happen if you only dedicate a finite amount of time to it.

At the end of the day, at the core of all my work is a belief in the necessity for sex positivity.

Erika Long

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

A struggle to find a good playlist! If anyone has any leads, let me know.

Who are your favorite artists?

My friends.

Where do you go to discover new artists?

This is maybe not the coolest answer but I get linked with a lot of incredible artists through instagram. Outside of that I pull a lot of inspiration from films, and while those artists are a lot of times by no means “new”, they’re new to me.

Erika Long is an artist based in New York who was recently shortlisted for The Hopper Prize. To learn more about the artist:

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