An Interview with artist Christian Petersen of TheGeekerie, as told to Dawn Nikithser
When you’re a book lover, finding things that make you love your books more is always a good thing. And that’s exactly how I felt when I saw Christian Petersen’s Poe prints during a recent fab.com sale. I had to email him and find out where he got his inspiration for his starkly elegant art (which you should buy for all the book and pop culture lovers in your life), and this illustrator, graphic designer, business owner, and all-around geek was kind enough to agree to chat with me via email. Convey your thanks to this very busy and talented artist—he runs two online print design shops (one explores the heart of nerd culture, while the other courts modern/fine art enthusiasts), AND he works full-time on a creative marketing team—by reading on…
Bookshelf Bombshells: First and most obvious, why Poe?
Christian Petersen: I tackle a lot of subject matter in Pop Culture at the Geekerie. The posters, prints, and card sets held within are born from a dark, squishy corner of my brain-place, only accessible when I’m daydreaming or spaced-out listening to Grizzly Bear. My Poe series came about one day while I was brainstorming ideas to expand my shop into more cerebral territories. Geeks like to think and read just as much as eat snacks and watch aliens with screwdrivers destroying spaceships. As a budding youth, Poe held an especially strong hold over me. It’s a twisted irony that educators expose you to his works precisely at the time in your life when emotions and hormones converge… violently, and without mercy. For me, Poe was an escape from pre-teen life. His stark vistas and shifty characters appealed to the murderous impulses bubbling just below an unassuming guise. As an adult, I haven’t taken the time to delve back into his world and thought this would be a great excuse. I made sure to read each story before designing the posters to be sure I could do them justice and really capture their distinct flavors. In the end, the illustrations rounded back to the iconic subjects of each story: a cat, a raven, and a barrel.
BB: Who are your primary artistic influences?
CP: I’m obviously influenced my modern design and pop art. Warhol, Mondrian, and others are my favorite artists, as well as Pollock, but his life of excess and passion is more of an influence than the work…for better or worse.
BB: Can you remember the first picture or painting that made you think, “I want to do that?”
CP: I’ve been drawing since I was a child, and I can’t say anything specific really made me want to be an artist. When I was in college studying computer science, there was this distinct portion of my soul that was slowly being ripped away by boredom. My first visit to the [Museum of Modern Art] presented me with two vastly different artists sharing one space, and it must have been the energy between them, because I had an honest artistic experience and bawled like an idiot. Incidentally, the two pieces were Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh and Autumn Rhythm by Jackson Pollock.
BB: Who are your favorite contemporary illustrators?
CP: Right now I like a lot of t-shirt designers, [like] Kari Fry, Megan Lara, Crystal Fontan, Ian Leino, etc. I’m always inspired by artists who can condense so many great ideas and parody concepts into a single iconic image.
BB: Your prints are simple and elegant and make a lot of use of negative space. Why does that style appeal to you?
CP: In all honesty, at first, I went to this style because it’s fairly easy. As I have grown and expanded my offerings, I feel like I put much more thought into each piece. I am more likely to fret over simple posters for hours and hours while some more complicated pieces breeze right along. It’s the challenge I mentioned before, distilling your ideas/interpretations or plots into a single minimal image; that’s what appeals to me now more than ever.
BB: Last question. What have you got in your pockets?
CP: Should I choose a moment when I have something in my pockets? I just had my iPhone, car keys, wallet, and a post office receipt in there.
And now that you’ve enjoyed the interview and all the lovely links, we’ve got a surprise for you – we’re giving away one of the prints! Christian has generously offered one of his prints to a lucky BB winner. All you have to do to enter is comment below with which one is your favorite and why. We’ll pick the winner in two weeks, so you’ve got until February 4th to comment! Consider it a little post-holiday gift from The Bombshells—after all, we always want you to have something to unwrap.