Erik Speer, Marine Scientist and… Fiber Artist?!

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Reefs in Art | 0 comments

“Nature is the world’s best designer, and I’m in awe of the small little details that make up life in our world,” says Erik Speer. “Coral reefs are for sure a reoccurring theme; not necessarily purposely, but perhaps because I feel most at home on a reef.” These details are apparent throughout his artwork, the weavings taking the shape of corals, anemones, tunicates, and more.


Much of Speer’s inspiration for his work comes from the ocean, with his art as the medium to share his experiences in the water. “I guess that’s kind of how I put together my pieces is trying to…recreate that aspect of it and taking… fibers and small materials and…building it onto each other to make…this larger scale piece that feels like it’s complete and it’s like its own organism and its living on its own.”

Speer initially attended college with the intent to be a doctor but after a few years realized it wasn’t for him so he dropped out, moved to Honduras, and became a diving instructor. For two years he travelled the world diving, teaching in countries like Honduras, Croatia, and Malaysia.

Diving several times a day every day for two years took a toll though. Speer ruptured both his eardrums and almost lost his hearing. He came back to the States for treatment, recovered his hearing after four months, and pursued a degree in marine biology in Charleston, North Carolina.

“During…that time…I came out as gay and so that opened a whole new door of like me no longer fighting…other passions of mine…. I really love fashion. But when I was not out I wouldn’t allow that to be fully expressed.”

So Speer left Charleston with a marine biology degree and moved to New York where he attended Parsons for fashion design. While interning at Rachel Zoe he found something that would introduce him to an entirely new world, one that he is now known for: the art of macrame.

When you look at Speer’s work, you see the influence of his diving days: massive wall hangings that resemble coral reefs, knitted and crocheted from wool, interspersed with shapes reminiscent of barnacles and sea urchins made from various fibers and textiles. Speer uses everything from alpaca to angora to pineapple fiber in his work.

Would you like to learn more or possibly procure a piece for yourself? Visit

Connect with the artist himself at his website here:

  • xeniaforever

    As senior editor here at reefs, I get to work with scientists from all over the world, and have made some wonderful friends in the industry! I also write for the site, and am the office manager at FRESH New London and the mother of two brilliant, talented young women.


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