California-based illustrator Eric Petersen’s works are delectable visual feasts, where bold colours and contours converge with people and perspectives
Eric Petersen’s digital art is timeless. Straddling the past, present and future, his pieces show flashes of a vintage style mixed with sleek, contemporary, computerized graphics. Figures with comic book–like charm take centre stage within the illustrator’s colourful theatre, plucked from his vivid imagination.
After spending a decade as a computer programmer in New York City, Petersen returned to his first love, illustration, in 2012. His commissions now include editorial illustrations for publications such as Barnard Magazine. Petersen, who is represented by Anna Goodson Illustration Agency, cites his career move to full-time freelancer as a natural one, and a very family affair (his father is also an illustrator): “Art was always a part of my life; I dropped everything to follow my passion and went back to what I knew I loved. As an illustrator, I have the opportunity to work for myself and follow my own creative vision.”
His neatly rendered pieces, complete with cool, balanced compositions and effervescent colour choices, demonstrate Petersen’s command of the computer screen. “One of my intentions with my art is to remove the artist's hand in the process,” he says. “I start with an idea of a visual, create it in multiple 3D programs and produce a rendered image. I use the image as a guide and draw the lines, then finish the colour and texture using specialized software.”
Petersen’s manipulation of colour is exemplified by his shading, as seen in “Getting Things Done” and “Obviously” where the palette blends into contrasting hues. No detail is too small for Petersen, even when it comes to providing textural qualities to his work. Engaging to viewers is his play with digital textures — by creating paper-like effects, Petersen gives his illustrations the illusion of being printed, adding to the vintage rhetoric of his pieces.
"Getting Things Done"
The subject matters within Petersen’s pieces are dreamlike depictions of realistic virtues and lively perspectives. “I like the look of both repetition and non-standard perspective. ‘Look At The Results’ uses repetition to show the progression of time. With perspective, I try to find interesting ways of viewing the subject but it also suggests the amount of space in the environment,” Petersen explains.
In “Not My Problem,” heplays with spatiality in two contrasting ways by including a tall building in an empty and vast environment, while each level is small and claustrophobic. Petersen’s work conveys brief moments in time, glimpses into broader narratives and snapshots of people interacting with their immediate surroundings.
"Look at the Results"
"Not My Problem"
A final musical epilogue to Petersen’s symphony of work — this past summer, the illustrator contributed to Gauntlet Gallery’s Daft Punk Deux exhibition, a show dedicated to artwork paying homage to the eponymous musical duo. His treatment of perspectives and reflections in “In The Beginning” lend an intergalactic aura, an appropriate nod to the musicians’ futuristic tones.
Like the precision of a well-choreographed photo shoot, Petersen uses digital art to capture the angles and outlooks of his subjects, bringing them to life through their dynamic, action-packed poses. “My inspiration for my subject matter is a mystery to me,” he says. “These images pop into my head at random moments or when I am daydreaming.”
Holly Mazar-Fox is a freelance arts writer and art consultant based in Toronto. She is a regular contributor to international publications, including DC Modern Luxury. Holly holds a BA in Art History from Yale University and a master’s degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art (London, England).
Check out more of Eric Petersen's work below, and in the top slider.
"In the Beginning"
"Do Not Stop"
"And Then I Woke Up"
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