Artist Erin Case Restyles the Southwestern Landscape


“Haircut 7” shows the softer side of Hoover Dam

In the summer of 2012, Erin Case was perusing the Internet, contemplating fresh looks for her coif when inspiration struck. Open in several tabs were her potential new do’s, in another was the Instagram profile of her friend Andrew Tamlyn, full of photos snapped during his vacation in lands the likes of Death Valley, Hoover Dam and the Las Vegas Strip. Looking at the glossy tendrils and golden, dusty landscapes onscreen simultaneously, her artistic reaction was “instantaneous.” In minutes, she snipped and patched the pieces together in Photoshop. Those composites became the stunning Haircut Series.

Distracted as she was by that burst of ingenuity, Case didn’t end up getting her haircut. Instead, she and Tamlyn submitted the series for consideration in numerous online art publications—to an overwhelming positive reception. Further exposure followed, and soon Haircut was featured in 42 malls in Canada where it was curated as part of the country’s Art in Transit initiative, on display to a projected audience of 22 million people.

Such success has been astounding to the Michigan native, who once saw no prospect in the medium. “I’ve been making collages since I was a teenager,” Case says. “But it never even occurred to me that I was making art. I just viewed it as me being crafty.” That is, until college.

When Case enrolled at Saginaw Valley State University, close to her home in Midland, Michigan, she had her heart set on a career in fashion design. The school didn’t offer such a program, however, so she began to pursue a degree in art. Along the way, she found herself in a pop painting class where she received high praise for her collage assignments. For her 2011 piece titled “Rub It In,” Case received the first of many future accolades—Best Black and White Artwork—awarded to her by the university. “That was one of the first things that made me think that maybe I could actually be taken seriously as an artist,” she says.

As for what sparks her creative fire, Case says it’s a cathartic process. “I see making art as a sort of therapy. All the good and bad things that happen to me, that I see going on in the world … I feel like I have to say something.” So she responds with images, sourced mainly from magazines (National Geographic is a favorite), most often hand-cutting and pasting the materials to achieve her desired pastiche.

Regardless of her own aesthetic, Case isn’t trying to push a particular agenda. “I’d like people to take away from it whatever they do, naturally,” she says. “That’s how I feel about art generally. If it evokes anything, it’s successful.” And so she hopes the scope of her artwork will continue to swell. “I feel like I’m just beginning,” she says, but one day, “I want to walk into a stranger’s house and see my art on their walls.”

For information on how to make that happen, visit

This article originally appeared in Vegas/Rated magazine. View the issue or download the Vegas/Rated app.