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.
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://www.hatchfund.org/project/seep_for_expo_chicago_2014
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.