Artist Interviews 2022

Erik Jensen  
By Julia Siedenburg

Erik Jensen creates his unique art pieces with the help of recycled keyboards. His artworks are all made with different colored keys that have been placed with care and so give a common thing that was ready to be thrown away a bigger purpose. So far he has used 800,000 computer keys and he is far from stopping. His notable pieces include pixelations of icons such as the Mona Lisa, Steve Jobs, the Statue of Liberty, and Marylin Monroe as well as space, animal, and abstract ones. These artworks are true eye-catchers with a good cause. Make sure you learn more about Erik and his creations in your interview below. Enjoy!

Your unique and masterful artwork made completely out of recycled keyboard pieces immediately grabbed my attention when I saw them. How did you get the idea to create art with these recycled materials?

I started using computer keys in college. I’ve done a few different things with them, but one night I was trying to sleep and thinking about pixelation and realized computer keys are perfect!

Where do you get the recycled keyboards from and was it a difficult journey to find the right colors you needed?

Because keyboards have a motherboard, they are considered electronic and so in order to throw them out they have to be recycled, via e-waste. However, plastic is not actually recyclable. I’ve found many e-waste companies all over the country that have tons of them and allow me to pop off the keys. Getting the colors on the other hand has been quite the adventure. Keyboards don’t really come in many colors other than black, navy blue, beige, and white. It took me a couple of years to figure out how to dye them to get the colors I want and need. However, each key has its own personality and becomes its own color. Each batch has many different shades of the color. So often I have to do many batches to get enough of the color I need for the project I’m working on.

Landscapes, custom portraits as well as icons like Einstein, Mona Lisa, Andy Warhol, and even Pacman are all things that you have created with the help of the keyboard pieces. How do you choose your subjects and colors when you plan your images?

I am constantly thinking about pieces to make with computer keys. When I get an idea, I sit down at my computer and create mock-ups. I play with the colors and design, and then I try it out.

Do you have a favorite piece you/ve created? If so, please tell us which one.

I feel like artwork are like children. My favorite is always the one I’m currently with. I enjoy the time that the artworks are in my studio but eventually the time comes that they need to graduate and move out and find their own home.

Tell us a bit about your upbringing and your childhood.

My mother has always been great about letting me make messes to encourage my creativity, despite being the baby of 10 kids. Having been born deaf, art was the first way that I could really express myself. Therefore, art is my first language.

I discovered your art at the latest The Other Art Fair. Do you like exhibiting your art at different shows and fairs and connecting with the people or do you prefer keeping to yourself by creating and selling from your private space?

I like it all. I enjoy being able to sell my art online, but I also love being able to sell in person. It makes it more meaningful when people can actually meet the artist to get a sense of personality and such.

On your website one can not only find your Portfolio, CV or Testimonial but e-commerce artists can also schedule a consulting session with you to get business improvement tips. Please tell us how you got the idea to do that.

I did a breakout session on being an e-commerce artist at an art museum near me earlier this year and other artists were asking me afterwards if I offered consulting. I figured I’d make it an option on my website.

Thinking about the horrible oppressions and wars that are currently raging, do you feel like art is powerful enough to start a movement, spread the message, and even stop a war? How important is truthful art in situations like those in your opinion?

Art is a vehicle to share a message. Art has the power to carry emotions. Artists are a vital part of society and need to do their part.

What is next for you? What are your plans for the future?

I’ve heard to be a master at something you have to spend 10,000 hours in it. I’ve decided with computer keys I will use 1,000,000 keys before I change it up. Though I’m getting close, I still have lots of life left with this “type” of art.

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