Interview with Professional Artist, Erik Peterson, Sculptor

Meet Erik Peterson, Sculptor and Fine Artist.

IndieMade: How did you get your start?

Peterson: I have been drawing since I was a really young kid, and doodled my way through class in high school and college, but I really started working as an artist during my Junior year at the School of Art at Washington University in St. Louis, where I got my degree in Sculpture in 2004.

IndieMade: What factors made you decide to create a website/your online business?

Peterson: When I make a sculpture project for public space or an exhibition, the audience is often very limited, because piece or the show is generally only up for a month or two. My website allows me to show temporary public works and create a sort of virtual exhibition space so that people all over the world can quickly and easily have access to my artwork.

Inner State by Erik L. Peterson

IndieMade: Is this Full Time or Part Time for you?

Peterson: I consider myself a full-time artist, however I also work in the education department at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago.

IndieMade: What do you like most about your online business?

Peterson: As an artist, you get the opportunity to put something into the world that didn't exist before. I enjoy it when people who see one of my sculptures tell me that they now see their surroundings in a new way. The website allows the people that didn't get a chance to see the work in real life the chance to live vicariously through the images and videos displayed on the site.

IndieMade: What advice would you give to someone who has objections or is hesitating about starting their online business?

Peterson: I don't think about the work I do through the lens of "success" or "failure" per se, but rather "am I able to do what I know I can do, and how can I get there"? My old website (the one I clumsily designed using Dreamweaver) used to be the Achilles heel of my practice, but now my website is now one of my greatest assets - it is a portal for curators and new viewers to learn about me and my work, sometimes before ever seeing it in person.

IndieMade: How has your life changed since you started your business?

Peterson: My art practice has been constant in my adult life, however, when I decided to professionalize my sculpture work as a business, and invest in it with the tools other small businesses use, it has felt more stable and more exciting at the same time.

IndieMade: What’s new in your business?

Peterson: This year, as a part of the Special Exhibitions and BOLT Residency, EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary Art, has offered me the opportunity to create a 40 foot-long neon sculpture entitled Seep for the entrance to the fair on Navy Pier. EXPO CHICAGO, which runs from September 18-21, 2014, will convene some 35,000 art lovers, collectors, gallerists, critics, curators, and artists. I am very excited to have this public platform to show an amazing new work - a piece that is a melting curtain for a crumbling urban stage. I am currently fundraising to get this project off the ground, so please check out the campaign; every donation level comes with amazing prizes and even original artwork! Http://

Seep by Erik L. Peterson

IndieMade: Do you do any offline promotions (craft fairs, pop up shops, etc.) to tie it all together?

Peterson:  I show my artwork in group and solo exhibitons, including current shows Cargo Space at A+D Gallery at Columbia College in Chicago and INOVA at the University if Wiscinsin Milwaukee. I will be showing the gigantic "Seep" sculpture at EXPO CHICAGO from September 19-21 and also have a solo show coming up at the Chicago Artists Coalition (217 N. Carpenter) called "Dimmer" opening on September 26th. 

IndieMade:  Is there anything you’d like to add?

Peterson: I often get emails, like this recent one from a Chicago-based curator, that comment on my IndieMade website: 

"I'm really enjoying your site, by the way -- great navigation and organization. It makes viewing and understanding the work so much easier."

This is exactly what I love to hear, and what makes my business work better for me, thanks all to IndieMade.


Claire McCarthy

I've seen a few of Erik Peterson's sculptures, and he's right when he says that one looks at one's surroundings in a new way after seeing them.  I'm eager to see his new Seep project at EXPO CHICAGO.  It looks appealing and far more delicate and intricate than some of his other sculptures.  I wonder how it will change the way I look and experience the world around me.

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