Eric Petersen: “My style is like a stock car in the desert with alien light”


Name: Eric Petersen

Country: U.S.A.

Artistic medium: Digital

Displate: When  and how did your adventure with art and creation begin? Have you always known that you wanted to be an artist?

I’ve been involved with art my entire life. My dad is an illustrator. My mom was a photographer. I went to school for art as well (B.A. from California State University Northridge with a concentration on graphic design, and continuing education at Art Center, School of Visual Arts, and The Cooper Union). I started making art in 2012 after moving to Olympia, Washington from NYC where I had been writing code for the websites of large corporations. I haven’t always known that I wanted to be an artist, but I did know that it was within me.


D: How would you describe your artistic style? It’s really coherent – schematic human figures, minimalistic compositions, vivid colours… Did your style evolve somehow over time or you knew from the beginning how it would look like?

My style is like a stock car in the desert with alien light. I knew a couple of things from the start that shaped it very quickly. I didn’t want emotion or expression shown on characters’ faces and I wanted a computerized feel that took the artist’s hand out of the equation (as much as I could while still getting the viewer to feel something). My first pieces were much more detailed with repeating lines. It has gotten more and more minimal since then. I am trying to open the field for imagination and not distraction. However, I don’t like to lock myself in either. There is always room for change.


D: What would you say are your main sources of inspiration? Is there any artist in particular that inspires you?

I haven’t really looked outward for sources of inspiration. My ideas come to me randomly and I write them down. Style-wise, I like the look and feel of old comics from the 1940s, video games, and instruction manuals. If I had to choose one artist, it would be Henri Matisse.

D: Why do you think you focus in your artistic creation only on humans?

I am human and I don’t understand it. I enjoy thinking about it, and questioning the behavior of humans and how we interact with each other and ourselves.

D: How does the process of creation look like? How long does one of these illustrations take to complete?

I start with a visual idea that just comes to me at random and I write down a description of the scene and body positions. Then I build the scene in a 3D program, pose the characters and produce a render to draw from (this is to aid in perspective and human proportions – I want my images to look perfect and not look as if it were drawn by a human with inevitable mistakes). I draw the uniform width lines using Bézier paths in Illustrator. I finish the color and texture in Photoshop. Lastly, I name the piece. The whole process takes me about a week which is mostly waiting for an idea (can’t force this). The production part takes about 2-3 days.


D: You said that the characters and scenes you create are very minimalistic as you want to leave some space for the viewer’s own interpretation. What about the colours you use? How do you decide on the ones you use in a given piece?

My colors are me having fun. Pre-2012, I only liked  making monochromatic images when I did any art -  which was infrequent. I don’t choose a color palette that is final from the beginning. I choose a base palette and then experiment with it in Photoshop until it feels finished.


D: What’s the coolest art tip you’ve ever received?

The coolest art tip I ever received is the one I avoid now: “Always make vector lines using Bézier paths out of shapes. That way the lines have character.” I only use uniform width lines and do not use shapes. Doing the opposite helped create my style.

D: Do you have any particular art-related dreams you’d like to yet fulfil?

I would like to make screen prints. I have never done this before and have high expectations. I am currently learning about it and building what I need.

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Elia Colombo is an Italian illustrator and graphic designer focused on vector illustrations: “I’ve had the passion for drawing since I was a child, but I never found a satisfactory way to finalize my pencil drawings colouring them. That is why, I put aside my passion for a while. It was only at Design University that I started learning new digital methods, and once I got my degree I focused myself on vector illustrations. So I found my own way to finalize what I wasn’t able to do: colouring my sketches! All my works are now made with vectors, even though I always start them on paper”.

His style is rather simple but at the same time his works are full of meaning and very often contain a strong and ironic message. When asked about the inspirations standing behind his designs, he says:  “Where I find those messages? Well, this is a strange fact because only occasionally I found inspiration in pop culture. Instead of this, I have to thank my other huge passion, which is philosophy. I spend a lot of time reading books that free my horizons. Probably without them I would have never make a lot of what I actually made”.

On his illustrations appear mostly cute animals or objects, like birds or TV sets, what generates a strong contrast between form and content. Elia very often refers in his designs to the human condition and humanity in general what makes his art meaningful and a bit controversial. But as he himself emphasises: “It seems like “Unconventional” is the most appreciate of my works by the community. The message behind that one is simple, it’s just the response to the famous aphorism by Paul Rand which invites people to stay in the norm. Against Paul I say: don’t try to be good, just try to be different!”.



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