Erin Forsyth's favourite things

Artist Erin Forsyth gets her kicks from cartoons, native plants and a vintage fox

Graphic designer Erin Forsyth. Photo / Babiche Martens.

You may have seen Erin Forsyth's work around town. Her comically dark illustrations have graced walls, cafes, clothing and album covers. Recently, she has worked on large-scale murals for new High St cafe Chuffed, and, continuing her work with designer Jimmy D, stamped quirky cartoons on his latest range, Hell or High Water. Her meteor man, sad emoji, Mr Weed and tsunami prints offer a wacky take on the end of the world.

Along with clients such as Converse, Red Bull, Tiger Beer and Workshop, Forsyth has worked on a number of exhibitions and events, last year co-ordinating the Artweek Auckland programme for the central city.

She has just passed on the management of Method and Manners studio, which she founded with her sister and two others in 2009, and is now editing new independent publication The Vernacularist, produced by Depot Artspace, where she also works in project development.

Forsyth works from her apartment above a Grafton cafe, where books, cartoons and her well set-up desk fuel her creative practice. 

• See Erin's work at


Mickey Mouse Ephemera. Photo / Babiche Martens

1.Mickey Mouse Ephemera
Mickey's a standout guy: a cartoon legend of yin and yang symbology.

Do kids still grow up with Mickey Mouse? These are a few fave things from my Mickey collection: a flipbook, an early plastic figure and a book about Mickey being a pilot. All gifts from various loved ones.

Silver fox. Photo / Babiche Martens

2. Silver fox
This little guy belonged to my dad's mother, my grandmother Joan. She and her husband, my grandfather Hector, lived and worked in Hong Kong and as a result my dad was born there. When I was a child he would always joke that he had a stamp on his bottom that said "Made in China", and being a child I always believed him.

'I am a Fireball Flying Through Time' by Kristal Gallagher. Photo / Babiche Martens

3. I Am a Fireball Flying Through Time by Kristal Gallagher 
Kristal Gallagher is a talented artist and musician from such infamous bands as Las Tetas and The Vietnam War. Her work has always inspired me. She exhibited last year with Eleanor Haydn at Method and Manners (Upper Queen St, Auckland) and we got to talking about this piece. She described, far more eloquently than I am able, how our lives are travelling through time and space, burning. That we should live honestly and with conscious knowledge of this. The great "I AM" is always stimulating for contemplation.

Books on native plants and birds in Aotearoa / NewZealand. Photo / Babiche Martens

4. Books on native plants and birds in Aotearoa/New Zealand
I don't use a lot of reference in my work unless I am working on studies of animals, flora and fauna. Over the years I've collected many books on the subject of native and indigenous species in New Zealand and I particularly enjoy comparing the illustrated volumes to the photographs to see how different artists have interpreted the subject. The large volume opened here is the work of Raymond Ching, arguably New Zealand's most famous ornithological illustrator. The Bird Paintings, Raymond Ching (William Collins and Sons, London, 1978).

Drawing desk set-up. Photo / Babiche Martens

5. Drawing desk set-up
I bought this desk for $20 from artist Peap Tarr when he moved to Cambodia. It comes apart really easily and doesn't take up a lot of room, unlike many of the old designs. The lamp was a gift from my auntie Deborah Fabrin, who is an artist in her own right. The leather rug was purchased from Search and Destroy. Both the desk and the lamp I consider to be practical necessities, while the rug gives me an oddly essential tactile stimulation.

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