Jester Jacques Catches Up with Eric Petersen

“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

Responsible and Cautious

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
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