Get To Know Illustrator Erin Barker!

Have you ever tried something and the first time around it didn’t go how you wanted? It can be disheartening for something to not work out how you envisioned it!

Well we’re here to tell you that it’s okay to make mistakes, and the important thing to do is to try again! But don’t just take our word for it—Cincinnati-based illustrator Erin Barker says that trial and error is all part of the process.

Erin Barker in her home studio

Erin Barker in her home studio

Who is Erin Barker?

Erin graduated from Asbury University with a fine arts and painting degree in 2011. After graduation, she went on to work in graphic design before dabbling in the world of illustration.

“I didn’t take it seriously as an option until I took a desk job that was a bad fit for me. I was really creatively starved during that time in my life, so I took on a lot of illustration projects on the side and worked on those in the evenings,” she says.

In April 2018, Erin illustrated What Is Soft?, written by Susan Kantor, through blue manatee press.

What Is Soft?   written by Susan Kantor and illustrated by Erin Barker

What Is Soft? written by Susan Kantor and illustrated by Erin Barker

Try and Try Again!

Erin’s experience illustrating What Is Soft? put to practice the age-old advice we’ve all heard: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!

 “A book is a totally different medium than anything else I’ve done,” she says. “It was a challenge for me at the beginning. I had some confidence issues. A couple of the first pieces I worked on, for whatever reason, they weren’t turning out the way I wanted them to. I think I set myself very high expectations that I have to get something right the first time. So it was slightly discouraging that I had to do something over again.”

You cannot always get things right the first time, and that’s okay.
— Erin Barker on first attempts

That process of trying and trying again became an important life lesson for her. “You cannot always get things right the first time, and that’s okay,” she says. “In fact, the more you do it, the second or third one is always going to be better than the first one because you’re solving problems along the way. There are instances in the first one where something is captured that you cannot duplicate. But sometimes you don’t know the first trial is the best one until you do a second or third.”


Erin Barker at the 2018 Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, Ohio

Erin Barker at the 2018 Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, Ohio

Sketches from Erin’s children’s first illustrated book  What Is Soft?  written by Susan Kantor

Sketches from Erin’s children’s first illustrated book What Is Soft? written by Susan Kantor

What’s Next?

We’re so excited about Erin’s future book projects with blue manatee press! “I definitely want to keep making books,” she says.

“I love storytelling! I’m working on two book projects, one I’m illustrating, and one I’m writing and illustrating. I’m really excited, but also a little nervous. They’re both really fun projects!”


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When is a time where your tried something new and learned from the mistakes? Comment below to help inspire us!

To see more of Erin’s work and to get to know her better, be sure to follow her on instagram @hooraylorraine, and don’t forget to follow blue manatee press @bluemanateepress for your daily dose of art and inspiration!