Ballerina Artist Breaks Down Technique With a Dose of Whimsy

January 2, 2018

Though self-described “ballerina artist” Grace Earp, 17, has been drawing her whole life, she only started ballet three years ago. Earp, an Irvine, CA native, had been selling her art—mostly of cartoon princesses and animals—at conventions like San Diego Comic Con and Wondercon since she was 12. But as ballet grew to be a larger part of her life, the subject of her work shifted. “I started drawing what I was learning; a pointed foot or hyperextended leg,” says Earp. Today, Earp has over 31,000 followers on Instagram for her line of drawings showing both the rigorous and fun sides of technical ballet training. Earp often chooses a single position or step like pas de chat or croisé devant and shows all the components that go into it, from “foot pointed like a dagger” to “anticipation of the next movement” to “focused mind.” The dancers in her drawings are whimsically dressed, and she often incorporates pop culture elements like Wonder Woman or Disney princesses.

Drawing Courtesy Grace Earp.

Drawing Courtesy Grace Earp.

Earp’s inspiration comes from a paradox that dancers are all too familiar with: it takes a lot of effort to look effortless. “My goal in drawing technical ballet moves is to show the complexity behind ballet training,” says Earp. “Many times people underestimate the rigors of ballet because it’s so beautiful. I play the role in saying, ‘it takes a lot to be beautiful.'” She often incorporates the corrections that she receives in class. Earp begins by sketching a move; once she’s satisfied with the lines, she brings it onto the computer to clean and to add color and text. Though Earp only posted her first technical drawing in March of last year, she says it “shot off from there,” leading to the following that she has today. She’s even turned her art into a business, selling t-shirts, prints and buttons online. Between ballet, school and drawing, Earp must be pretty busy, but that doesn’t stop her from planning for the future. She hopes to expand onto YouTube, giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the process behind each piece.

Grace Earp at her drawing table. Photo Courtesy Earp.