“I am an illustrator based in Olympia, Washington, U.S.A. My style is influenced by instructional graphics and the look of vintage comics of the 1940s. I draw uniform lines on a computer to strip away some of the human element and expressive quality seen in non-digital work. I use perspective and unnatural colors to set up a voyeuristic feeling and create an unsettling mood. I am interested in the combination of a purely functional illustration style with an emotional scene. My subject matter typically consists of people and environments. I aim to create a sense of ambiguity and allow the viewer to imagine their own narrative.” — Eric Petersen
How did you get into art making? Was it a big part of your childhood?
My father is an illustrator and worked as an Art Director in NYC at ad agencies when I was a kid. I grew up with it.
I actually have nice memories of spray painting art projects on paper with him in his building basement with the cockroaches.
Did you go to art college/university? If so, do you feel it helped form your career?
I went to CSUN in Northridge, California for a B.A. in Art and then took classes at Art Center, SVA, and The Cooper Union.
I do think it helped form my career as a lot of other experiences have too. In my illustration style, I am using skills I learned from photography, drawing, graphic design, art direction, production work using computer software, and 3D.
What do you use for references for your characters? (what kind of imagery?)
I build 3D scenes of my ideas and draw from them. I find this allows me to do things I could not do if I just started drawing from scratch. For example, I can compose my shot like a photographer and get precisely what I am looking for. It also adds to the lifeless look that I am after. On occasion I work from photographs, but this is rare.
How do you begin a new work? Research or do you just free flow?
I begin a new work with an idea of a visual in my head and then write it down as words describing it. I then build the scene in 3D and render an image. From there, I draw it in Adobe Illustrator and finish it in Photoshop. My titles come last. I find the idea is not complete until the end and it often changes during the process.
What is your aim? To tell a story? To touch us? Deeper meanings?
I want to create a sense of ambiguity. I am not telling a story, but setting up an image that many stories can be invented from. I often see my work with multiple meanings. I believe the viewer sees what they want to see.
What really gets you inspired? Certain movies or magazines?
My work is inspired by people in general – their interactions and body language play a big part in my work. My aesthetic inspiration comes from many sources including old comics, instruction manuals, art of the ancient world, and video games.
I do love movies. I think my favorite is ‘Barton Fink’ as I never get tired of that one.
Any advice for young illustrators?
Start creating and don’t stop. If this is hard for you, try to set an imaginary deadline (1 a day, 1 a week, …) With the more pieces you create, you’ll probably start liking your recent work more. After a while you won’t even need the imaginary deadline. You will feel a drive to create because you love what you do!
Thanks to Eric for speaking to us! You can purchase his artwork through Jester Jacques Gallery here
And don’t forget, 10% DISCOUNT until 25th November by entering code A-P1205 on www.artpie.co.uk