[W]e are entering a new digital age whereby building an online presence is becoming increasingly important. A flurry of digital natives are filling our feeds with their work, making it ever more difficult to sieve through all the content to find authentic talent. Erika Bowes is a true representative of the next generation of creatives. The 21 year old student based in Newcastle has been using social media since the tender age of 14 to showcase her work.
Over the last seven years Erika has blossomed from bedroom-bound teenage fashion blogger into renowned photographer, director and overall internet sensation. However with a following of over 150,000 it can be quite difficult to escape a certain stereotype and we understand that theirs more to a person than just their social media presence. We caught up with Erika to find out more about what she has to say and what advice she would give to other emerging creatives in a sea of digital content.
How did you come to blow up on the Internet? When did it all start?
I started out on social media by creating a tumblr around the age of 14 – this lead to me starting to blog properly soon after. My following started growing slowly for a year or two. when I was 15/16 I just started to get a lot of recognition! That was around the time of instagram and it seemed the more social channels I used, the larger my follower count.
The imagery you create is very minimalistic, romantic, and clean. What camera do you use and when did you start taking photographs? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
Thank you! I started using my iPhone camera (which I still love), a nikon EM film camera (that was my mums), and now I use the Canon 5D mark iii. At first, when I was just using my iPhone camera, I was getting a lot of compliments on my work which lead me to become more and more interested in photography. That’s when I decided to take everything a little more seriously so I decided to buy my Canon – it’s made me love photography even more!
You’ve recently launched a website which focuses on your photography and lifestyle. What was the motivation to start sharing your photographs online?
I’ve never really been consistent at taking your usual ‘fashion blogger’ photographs of my outfits – it’s a little over done and a bit boring if I’m honest. I’ve always found it more interesting to share photos that I’ve taken on my iPhone day to day rather than planned outfits and shoots. I share my shoot photographs which I style and direct myself on my website as it’s the easiest way to document them and it’s also like my portfolio for future jobs! My motivation for setting up my new platform was to not just be seen as a ‘blogger’ or and ‘instagram girl’ I have so much more to give! I wasn’t happy. So I made my website and started organising shoots to go in a different direction and show people my skills. Its worked as i’m started to get jobs for photography instead of just as a social media influencer.
You’ve recently been working in Japan, what did you get up to whilst you were there?
I worked with Refinery29, High Snobiety, Nylon and Galore magazine, however it originally set out as a family holiday. My mum is from Tokyo and her side of the family live there so when I heard she was flying over I had to take the opportunity to set up as many shoots as possible – there are so many amazing locations.
What is your biggest goal as an artist? Is there a dream job or an ideal project you would like to create or be a part of?
I’d love to move into Creative Direction, thats my goal! However, I never want to limit myself to one thing! I’d love to work with Nick Knight one day too.
Apart from photography have you considered other kinds of multimedia you would like to experiment with, and why?
I enjoy film, graphic design, editing is the best part for me! I’d also love to have my own clothing line!
With the amount of Internet popularity that you have, do you find a responsibility to be conscious of how you present or share yourself?
Yes completely. I used to post a lot more personal photos like nights out (when I didn’t have as many followers) but now I just feel people aren’t really interested in that. It’s kind of sad really as it’s my own channel, although I tried making a private account just for personal photos but I didn’t keep it up for long.
Your style is something you’re lauded for by your many of your fans. What inspires your fashion and what are your favourite brands/designers?
My style changes so regularly and my followers notice that but I think that’s part of what they like about my social media platforms. I’m inspired by different cultures and I pick up on different styles and get influenced the most when I travel. Right now I’m obsessed with Gucci, Acne and Vetements. I’m always looking for affordable ways to re-create their looks as I’m a broke student. Vintage is the best for that!
What do you envision your ideal future to look like?
I want to be happy, I mean a lot of money would be nice to help with my shopping addiction but I think if I love my job I will be happy with just that.
What advice do you have for other young creatives?
Be consistent with the things you love and never limit yourself. You can literally do whatever you want if you want it bad enough!