Petra Eriksson About Her Collab with Indonesian School Kids

Petra Eriksson About Her Collab with Indonesian School Kids

Boriana Heim

It’s April! And for our brand new collab we teamed up with artist Petra Eriksson. Born in Stockholm and based in Eindhoven, Petra is an incredible artist who likes to work with bright colors and a mix of organic and graphic shapes. Brands like VICE, Buzzfeed, The New Yorker and Oscar/The Academy Award love her art. So at Face This we’re proud she took the time to collaborate with us as well. We spoke with her about how she experienced this collab and how our Indonesian kids’ drawings inspired her. ‘I think play is the key for any artist or non-artist to cultivate and feed their inner child.’ 

Face This: Can you tell us something about your cultural background? Where did you grow up? Did you always like to draw? 

Petra Eriksson: Yes, for as long as I can remember I have always been drawing. I grew up with a creative family, my mum used to work as a graphic designer/illustrator and my grandma was a very creative soul who loved being around kids and helping create an inspiring environment. I was also a very shy and introverted kid so a lot of my playtime was me reading, drawing and creating imaginary worlds in my head. 

Face This: Is there one drawing that you can recall from your childhood? What was it about? 

Petra Eriksson: Many. Though most of the ones I remember were me trying to copy my older cousins’ drawings. 

Face This: Are there specific moments in your life that made you decide to become an artist?

Petra Eriksson: I wanted to be an artist from a young age, but it took me a while to figure out how to do it. I went to art school but felt a bit lost during those years, when I later studied graphic design things started to fall into place. I almost always had the dream though and thankfully I had people around me who told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be as long as I was prepared to work hard for it. 

Face This: What is the biggest challenge for you, being an artist?

Petra Eriksson: To not compare myself too much with other artists, unfortunately. It’s not like that all the time but Instagram is definitely messing with my head from time to time, especially if I’m in a phase of feeling uncreative and not being able to access new ideas as much as I would like to. Seeing other people create a lot of great pieces during those times often takes a toll on my creative self esteem, making me feel like I need to put new work out there. I’m trying to work on ways to be better at breaking that cycle and letting my brain rest by coming back to exploring and trying to take away the pressure I put on myself.

Face This: As an artist, do you have any dreams? Are there some goals you would like to achieve? Is there something you’re building up for?

Petra Eriksson: My main dream is to have a solo exhibition with a series of my work, ideally with a lot of painted and hand drawn pieces. I also dream of setting up my art studio better and getting a lot of things on the walls. I’m taking small steps in the direction of figuring both of these things out. 

Face This: Pablo Picasso once said: ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up’. How do you remain an artist? And do you have tips for non-artists to cultivate their inner child?

Petra Eriksson: I think of this Picasso quote fairly often and for me it is about two things, trying to keep playing and trying to release yourself of the ideas of how a “grown up” life should look. I think most of us forgets (partly or completely) to play when we get older, we also might have less time for it after work, cooking, paying taxes etc etc, but part of it is simply forgetting or not allowing ourselves to play. You can play with paint, with words, with all kinds of expressions or simply do things just for fun. Find a sport that you do because you just enjoy it, or start doing impro theater or dance. But I know that it can be hard in the busy schedules many of us have, but to some degree I think those busy schedules come out of those thoughts we have about how we are supposed to live when we grow up. To have accumulated a certain amount of wealth, to buy a house, to dress a certain way, to do all the things we’re supposed to do. But maybe we can live simpler and freer? Less time working, more time exploring and playing. Maybe we don’t need to climb the ladder, maybe we chose not to have kids, maybe we start wearing clothes with crazy color combinations just because it’s fun? I think play is the key for any artist or non-artist to cultivate and feed their inner child. 

 Face This: You designed an artwork by using some of our Indonesian childrens drawings. With the proceeds of your artwork, we will be able to provide the kids you’ve collabed with a playground. How important is playfulness for you as an artist? 

Petra Eriksson: Very very important. I notice clearly in myself and my artmaking/creativity when I haven’t given myself enough time to play and experiment. I think playfulness opens us up for thinking more openly and that we through play can connect ideas that we wouldn’t have connected otherwise.  

Face This: When we reached out to you, what made you want to join?

Petra Eriksson: I really enjoy getting the chance to use my art to contribute to projects like these that creates a positive change. I also really liked the idea of taking inspiration by the drawings of these kids. 

The Petra Eriksson x Face This collab is available on tees and a sweater. Pic by Maryn Haertel

Face This: When you received the drawings, what was your first reaction? What did you see in them? Can you describe them a bit for us?

Petra Eriksson: I loved the personality of the different characters, they were so expressive. I also felt very drawn towards the flowers and plants that were occurring in many of the drawings, I felt like they had a specific significance that I didn’t understand and I liked that it felt like a beautiful mystery. 

Face This: Which drawings did you use to create your artwork with (you can refer to the drawings by using the file names)? And why did you pick these? 

Petra Eriksson: The drawings I picked all included these different flowers and plants that I felt drawn to. I did a lot of sketches with versions of these flowers but in the end my work took a more abstract way when it came to the flowers and plants. I played around with more textured brushes for this project, challenging myself to do something a bit more outside of my comfort zone and I loved the more abstract flowy shapes that came out of it. The plants may look very different from the drawings of the kids but it still has the story of kids/people taking care of and admiring these growing things around them, and I wanted to bring that feeling into my artwork. 

Face This: Can you tell us something about how you have experienced this collaboration?Have you learnt something from working with the kids’ drawings? Did the way the drawings were made inspired you in some way?

Petra Eriksson: I loved how free they were when drawing people. I felt very inspired by their way of drawing clothes and facial expressions. 

Face This: To conclude, is there something you would like to say to the kids who made the drawings you’ve worked with?

Petra Eriksson: I want to thank them so much for taking part in this project and for putting their ideas and dreams on paper and sharing it with me. I want them to know that they have touched and inspired me. 

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