Welcome to My Life at Home, where we slow down for just a minute to share a glimpse into the lives of food lovers we'd love to get to know better. Kick off your shoes and get comfy!
When I first came upon Erica Prince's work on a site about Girls and Their Cats (yes, really—go for instant warm and fuzzies), it was all I could do to suppress a smile. The artist's bright, cheerful home seemed so inviting, and so many things caught my eye: her unique ceramic sculptures, her picture-perfect pixie cut, and of course, her sweet-as-pie kitty, Boofy.
I was most drawn to Erica's full embrace of color in her home, which also includes her studio space. Even as we dive into the flat, grey recesses of winter, her blue wall alone is enough to inspire you to inject some bold new color in your home, banishing any signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder. "I've always embraced color," Erica explains. "I grew up in a colorful home and never understood why people shy away from it."
I had a chance to speak to the Brooklyn-based artist, who's shared her Bushwick railroad apartment with her sculptor/engineer husband, Shane Jezowski, and of course, Boofy the cat, for the last three years. Find out what she hates to love about her abode, and the unexpected dinner party fare she's known to whip up.
HANA ASBRINK: Hi Erica, please tell us about yourself.
ERICA PRINCE: I’m a multidisciplinary artist and designer. I make functional ceramics, drawings, installation, and I have a relational project where I give people Transformational Makeovers. I’ve always worked across a variety of mediums—the work all connects thematically, presenting opportunities for exploration of potentialities within lifestyle design and identity.
HA: What do you like most about your Brooklyn home?
EP: I love that it's a space where art and life intermingle. Although the studio is its own room, there is no psychological separation between the art life and the life-life. Perhaps that's why I started making items for the home—because it all began to blend together.
HA: How did you first get into sculpture?
EP: I was making drawings of these forms many years before I figured out how to achieve them in ceramics. So the forms came first, and then the love of the process. Many ceramicists do it the other way around.
I wanted to make pieces that were multifunctional (the pieces in the Containers collection can hold anything, not just floral), and called attention to the act of arranging and compartmentalizing. They're almost like puzzles that need to be solved by their owners, and the way people interpret them reveals something about that person.
HA: How would you describe this medium in three words?
EP: Three words for this art form: ancient, human, fickle.
HA: Describe your decorating style. What (and who) are you influenced by?
EP: Eclectic, midcentury, femme, playful, collected. It's not overly contrived or matchy; I just put things I like together. We visited the Eames house a few years ago and it was so inspirational. The Eameses had a way of living a sophisticated and highly intentional life, yet filled their home with collections, art, nature, and opportunities for play.
HA: I love how you embrace color. What shades are you most drawn to? (And please tell us about these amazing blue walls!)
EP: I’m drawn to colors that feel rich and bright, like a Technicolor movie. We decided to paint the kitchen deep blue on a whim last winter when the seasonal greyness was really getting to me. Before that, it was white—I usually like the way white brings out other colors in a room, but suddenly it was feeling sterile and impersonal. The blue added a moodiness and drama to the kitchen that made it feel cozy for the rest of the winter. Color really does change your energy.
HA: Something you hate-to-love or love-to-hate about your home?
EP: I hate to love the size. It's 550-square-feet, which is a decent size, but still small for two people to live and work. I’m secretly grateful for the size because it forces me to consider everything, to keep things tidy, and to be smart about organization. I’m obsessed with Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
HA: If your walls could talk, what would they say?
EP: “We feel gorgeous!” (When we moved in, the walls were all yellowy-grey, so I’m pretty sure they've never looked this good and they are finally living their best life.)
HA: BOOFY! I love your kitty so. How does he make himself at home?
EP: Boofy is truly the light of my life, and my assistant in all things domestic and studio-related. He wakes me up in the morning and then takes his morning nap on my desk above the heater in the studio. He can often be found tiptoeing amongst fragile ceramics—like a wild cat creeping through the jungle.
HA: Where will we find you on any given weeknight?
EP: At home! Probably making dinner, puttering around, cleaning, organizing, or making new little displays around the house. I love to arrange (and rearrange) things to keep the space feeling fresh and inspired.
HA: How often do you entertain, and how often are you guys spending time at home?
EP: We love to entertain, but it's tricky when you live in a small space. When we designed our apartment we prioritized studio spaces over relaxing spaces, so we don't have a living room or a couch. BUT, we make it work! I love having people over for studio visits, which is a form of entertaining, and we host dinner parties from time to time, though people usually end up sitting on the floor or our bed after dinner.
Shane works a lot so he's only home in the evenings, but I’m home a lot since my studio is here. Shane calls me a house cat. I guess it's funny to live in New York and be a homebody—many New Yorkers only use their apartments for sleeping. But I love being in control of my space, and I get a lot accomplished when I can be the master of my own domain.
HA: Do you have a signature drink or dinner party fare?
EP: I’m known for making indulgent and elaborate desserts. I love that dessert can be so decorative! I’ve probably been watching too much of The Great British Baking Show. For Christmas, I made a chocolate candy cane cake that looked like it was right out of the '60s. For my husband’s birthday last year, I made a sprawling, pastel-iced cookie zen garden on a giant ceramic platter. I’ve never made the same dessert twice—it depends on my mood, the season, the theme.
HA: What is your ultimate comfort food?
EP: Spaghetti Bolognese with peas! Isn't that everyone’s answer?!
HA: What do you always keep in your fridge?
EP: Frozen bananas, eggs, tortillas, kale, almond butter, and carrots. Those things are always there.
HA: What is your favorite way to relax after a long week?
EP: I work every day. There’s really no such thing as a weekend when you work for yourself, so I try to relax a bit every day. I take lots of baths! We are so lucky to have a big, deep bathtub in New York. I light candles and fill the bath with fancy salts or bubbles, and just soak and let my mind wander.
HA: What is the biggest joy (and challenge) of running your own business?
EP: The biggest joy is getting lost in my work because I love it so much. There is no greater feeling than losing track of time and forgetting that you are working at all. I don't always feel that way but when I do, it’s energizing. I suppose the biggest challenge is the days when I don't feel that way. It's sometimes hard to get going if I’m exhausted or bummed out, and I don't have a boss to hold me accountable.
HA: What's on your playlist right now?
EP: I recently discovered Dorothy Ashby, a jazz-harpist who, according to Wikipedia, is one of the "unjustly under-loved jazz greats of the 1950s." I’ve been on a harp kick. I'm also listening to Mary Lattimore’s new album, Hundreds of Days. I often listen to purely instrumental music while I work; it allows me to focus and think abstractly.
HA: What are your favorite Food52 recipes?
EP: I love seasonal desserts that offer opportunities for fun decorations or beautiful color combinations. The Cherry Almond Torte and Rhubarb with Earl Grey Tea, Cardamom, and Orange Zest are incredible!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Do you embrace color? Let us know below!