When the Cat Explodes

We have already met Erik Petri on this blog as the cartoonist, who drew the dictums, suggestions, injunctions and contradictions that poured out, when Plantu gave a masterclass this spring in Copenhagen.

Erik specializes in transforming professional meetings and conferences into drawn serials filling the walls of the conference room. Erik is a rarity, who analyzes in serial form, transgressing the cartooning and comics fields.

Tomorrow he celebrates his first 10 years as a freelancing visual artist, and he has allowed us to get a glimpse of one of the places, where it all began, a small café from back then in 2003, when he was a student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.

And here we come to the exploding cat. As the Commencement Speaker 2012 at the University of the Arts i Philadelphia, PA, Neil Gaiman underlined:

 -Whatever you do, you have the ability to make art. You learn to write by writing, so when things get tough, transform it by your word, your voice, your vision:


As an aspiring visual artist, Erik gave Neil Gaiman's piece of advice a double take. Each drawing is An Unwritten Novel (to quote Virginia Woolf) on the aspiring artists at the other tables at the Zona Rosa Caffe in Pasadena. These are drawings on concentration, aspiration, frailty, insistence, reading fingers taking in and shutting out. And Tom, the barrista.

To this end Erik has made glorious mistakes with Neil Gaiman's words and at places used layers of paper, glueing in new pieces to rework a detail. This creates a tactile effect, planes of strong color colliding and adding energy or softness, underlining each personal story we cannot help try to dissect with him. And encasing all of them is the clearcut contouring, which has since become Erik's trademark.

May they all have made interesting, glorious mistakes. Broken rules. And may they all then as now make good art.

Oh, and Zona Rosa Caffe is still in existence and immediately recognizable from Erik's drawings, although the photos of today underlines the difference the artist makes. There is no one there to nail the life within each of the coffee drinkers.

Congratulations, Erik, and here's to the next 10 and so many more years!

The artworks shown are courtesy of Erik Petri and must not be reproduced without his permission.

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