In our Artist Spotlight Series, Casey Anderson of Pyramid Fly Company sits down one on one with artists across the fly fishing world to discuss art, fly fishing, and all things life. In this feature, Casey sat down with Eric Estrada a talented artist and saltwater fly angler based out of Miami, Florida.
Casey: Alright Eric, thanks for letting us ask you some question to get to know you a little better. Could you hit us with some of your general info?
Eric: Born and raised in Miami, Florida; I’ve spent most of my life creating art, music, catching fish, and capturing it all in my films.
Casey: For those of you not familiar with Eric’s unique art work he uses very bright, bold, colors mashed with almost graffiti/hip hop inspired feel when rendering his fish, birds and his other. What would you call your “style” of fish art?
Eric: It definitely derives from my years of graffiti/street art throughout Miami. It’s changed up a bit since I am painting different subjects, but you can see and feel the streets influence in my work for sure.
Casey: The style seems pretty seamless for what you do. A style/vision I’d imagine being deeply rooted? Could you perhaps elaborate on where the unique Estrada started?
Eric: Growing up in Miami, there’s a lot of things that can influence a young mind. I spent my childhood summers in the Florida Keys, or out on a farm, or in the middle of a major city. All these aspects helped shape me. From building lowriders, to painting high-end speed boats. I kind of just took bits and pieces of everything I experienced and put in into my artwork.
Casey: What is your preferred medium to work in?
Eric: I tend to do a lot of mixed media stuff. My canvases will usually consist of acrylic paint, oil paint, and sometimes spray paint.
Casey: Do you have one or two recent pieces you’re particularly fond of that you’d like to share?
Eric: I just did a piece for a new Beer we just released with Sweetwater Brewery and Costa Sunglasses for the Kick Plastic Pilsner. It was a change of pace for me, as they requested I’d paint Marlin, as I typically paint inshore fish.
Casey: Which came first? The rods and salty flats or the colorful paint and markers?
Eric: I’d say the fishing came first. I have been fishing for as long as I can remember. However, my father is an artist, so art has always been a part of my life.
Casey: When did the art Eric and fishing Eric collide?
Eric: At some point around 2012, a friend and I had the urge to go out and tag some stuff up; we were in our mid-twenties, and decided to not go out and vandalize some buildings. He suggested we pick up some canvases at Walmart and give it a go. He drew up some crazy graffiti characters, and I drew a redfish tail. Not quite sure why I drew a redfish tail, but I did. I got ridiculed for doing so. Haha, my buddies thought I was weird for painting a fish.
Casey: What are some of the major aspects you take from fishing or the fish and apply it to your pieces?
Eric: I definitely like to look at the way the light reflects off these fish. It shows colors that you typically won’t see in the fish when looking at a photo. Also, I feel like the fact that I spent many years photographing fish before I began to paint them, it helps me with the proportions and composition of a piece.
Casey: Is there a particular species of fish or other animals that you have the most fun rendering?
Eric: I really enjoy painting Tarpon. Due to their chrome-like bodies and extreme detail that goes into drawing one. I also like drawing duck’s, before I ever began to photograph fish, I photographed duck hunts so I feel a connection with them.
Casey: With plenty of different passions and hobbies let’s get to one of my personal favorites of the many you have, lowriders. Tell us what project you are working on now?
Eric: I’m currently building myself an 1980 Chevy EL Camino. I have been doing most of the work myself, along with the help of a few close friends. We have fully restored the body, got the motor nicely tuned, I shot some Kandy paint on it of course. And recently I just did the hydraulic suspension.
Casey: You also do some filming and photography as well as create awesomely unique fish art. One I thought was radical is “The 5wt chronicles”. For those who haven’t seen it can you share what that was all about?
Eric: I’ve been making fly fishing videos for many years, even before I started doing wildlife art. The 5wt Chronicles was essentially an idea to become a better angler, while also getting peoples attention. We are fishing roadside ditches, catching 20lb tarpon, to 36” snook in golf course ponds, to being deep in the Everglades and on the clear flats of the Florida Keys. Anything we can toss a fly at, we are doing it with 5wt’s. Committing to the 5wt has definitely made us better anglers. It’s difficult to cast these big streamers in high winds on such a small rod, you really have to have your cast dialed in. Also helps with knowing how to fight a fish. Don’t get me wrong, we are locking down the drag on these reels, and I’ve only exploded a couple of fly rods on tarpon and giant peacock bass. We would wear these fish out pretty quickly, so no fish has been harmed.
Casey: Was there a particular moment of certain fish caught in that series that particularly stood out to you?
Eric: Man, it’s taken me all over the Southeast United States, from fishing for stripers in Maryland, big browns up in the north Georgia streams, bull redfish in Louisiana. But a particular day that really stood out to me was a day that we spent in the Everglades. My Co-Host Ty Lloyd Jr. took Jonathan “Red Beard” Jones, Jameson Redding, and myself out to one of his childhood favorite honey holes. I have been fishing with Ty for many years, and he had been holding out on me, haha. But he came through that particular day. Showed us some crazy stuff that goes down in the rainy season when thousands of juvenile tarpon trek their way upstream deep in the Everglades. Fishing natural waterfalls caused by extremely high water levels caused by the summer rains. We caught way too many fish to count. It’s an unreleased episode that will be dropping here soon.
Casey: When you go out what are the general species you target in your surrounding areas?
Eric: Over the past year, I’ve really been targeting the juvenile tarpon in freshwater canals around town, as well as bonefish in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. I also spend a lot of time chasing Redfish and Snook in Flamingo, as well as Peacock Bass throughout the freshwater canals in Miami.
Casey: Do you have a favorites species to catch or does that question have too many variables?
Eric: My two favorites are Bonefish and Redfish. Something about being out on an open flat chasing large schools of hungry tailing fish does it for me.
Casey: I personally had the pleasure to fish with you previously in Florida. The weather didn’t want to cooperate but we made the best of it and had one hell of a good time. A real highlight was meeting the fiery and legendary momma Estrada. Was your mother a large part in the support of what you have created thus far?
Eric: Growing up, my mother always taught me to fish with light tackle. While my father enjoyed hand-lining with a yoyo, most others in the family would fish with big heavier rods, my mother was always into catching big fish with a super light tackle rod. My first rod was one of her hand-me-downs, so I always had a passion for fishing lighter tackle than usual.
Casey: What was the name of the delicious Cuban rum we drank at the house?
Eric: That was a bottle of “Santiago de Cuba”. It was actually given to me by my good friend and fellow fly fisherman Frank “Reffy Frank” Salas.
Casey: Now let’s add more to the list. You also organize a lot of awesome tying events around your local community. Please tell us more about that.
Eric: Just over a year ago, a buddy and I launched a monthly fly tying & social night at a local brewery; it’s been a blast. We do a free raffle, on the first event we did a 12 year old won a fly rod & reel combo, he was stoked. That moment alone had made it all worth the effort. We have introduced a lot of people into fly fishing through our event, as well as brought a lot of guys together who otherwise would have never met.
Casey: If you could only use one fly for all your fishing in your area what would it be?
Eric: I tie a particular fly that is a variation of a shrimp fly. I’ve caught everything on it, I even threw it at some browns up in the mountains and caught a few.
Casey: What’s your favorite song to listen to while cruising in your lowrider?
Eric: That will change from time to time, but lately, it’s been a song titled “West Coast” by G. Eazy, featuring Blueface, AllBlack, and YG.
Casey: Is there anything else you might want the reader to know about yourself that I may have missed?
Eric: After completing my first canvas, I was told by several close friends that art wasn’t for me. I used that as fuel to get to where I am and to where I am going. I didn’t go to art school, I learned everything I know on my own by putting in countless hours into my craft. As Macklemore says in his song titled: Ten Thousand Hours. “The great’s weren’t great because at birth they can paint. The greats were great, because they paint a lot.” So to anyone who might be reading this, don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot achieve. If you want to do something, put in the work, the effort, and you will be rewarded.
Casey: What would be the best ways for people to contact you if they are interested in viewing or purchasing any of your artwork?
Check out the other artist’s spotlight’s from Casey Anderson: