We sat down with Eddie Perrote, whose figurative abstraction and graphic symbolism blend together to create a personal narrative that brings form to emotional and physical sensations.
Where are you from and where do you reside?
I’m from the Midwest, grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and went to school in Minneapolis. I currently reside in Brooklyn.
What necessities do you require when making your art (radio, specific paintbrushes)?
Ideally music, warmth, and some nice liner brushes - plenty of space, and good natural light!
Describe a typical day in the studio for you.
I’ll usually get into the studio early in the day, dive into a painting without really warming up, work on random design projects while I wait for paint to dry, or start other smaller paintings - a lot of times I’ll end up having 3 or 4 different paintings going at once that I work on interchangeably.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
Sometimes it’s making art, but most of the time it’s not making art. I’ll rarely go through times of lack of inspiration, but it has happened and it's always incredibly defeating. I make a lot of work and it’s all fairly varied in medium, so I think a lot of times I have difficulty figuring out which part of my identity the work that I’m making fits into. I’m a professional illustrator and graphic designer, I learned animation in an internship, and I make drawings, paintings, and screenprints. I think I have the most difficulty deciding which area I want to work on next!
How important is spontaneity in your practice?
Spontaneity is incredibly important to my practice - maybe the crux of it. For me I think the most honest expression comes from intuition - a lot of the work I make develops as I go, so spontaneously creating, adding to a piece, removing something, or reacting to it is the most crucial element of my practice.
Although I almost exclusively paint in a flat graphic style with no discernible light source, light, and the moments that are created in our world through light, are probably the most inspiring things for me. It’s always so fleeting, so momentary that you want to grasp it, but it’s always out of reach.
How do you choose your materials?
It’s all emotions for me. I’ll usually have some sort of palette or vision of the piece before starting, but it’s all tied up in my current state of being.
How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
It’s become more focused and intentional over the past few years - I still make a lot of work, but I’ve figured out ways to slow myself down a bit so that my reaction time is delayed, and I have more time to consider my actions and intentions with the pieces; working at a larger scale has also helped with this.
I see my work evolving currently in having more focus for each piece. Sometimes it’s a large moment/composition with lots of movement and activity, sometimes a focused snapshot of a similar moment, or isolating elements to convey a similar emotion using simple graphics; working in oil rather than acrylic is helping me slow down further. It’s always growing but remains similar to my innate vision.
Do you find that environment relates to your work?
I think it definitely does, maybe more so in terms of my observations than my living habitat - I’ve lived in New York for the past 8 years, so it’s hard for me to say how my work would change if I lived somewhere else. But I do notice that traveling has an impact on my visual language, if only due to being exposed to new sights and experiences.
What tangible objects or intangible moments are you most interested in representing through your works?
Although I almost exclusively paint in a flat graphic style with no discernible light source, light, and the moments that are created in our world through light, are probably the most inspiring things for me. It’s always so fleeting, so momentary that you want to grasp it, but it’s always out of reach. I think I strive to capture the emotions of these moments and I draw from them constantly when creating. I could list the exact moments I’m referring to, but I don’t think it would do them justice.
What are some themes you find recurring in your pieces, intentional or not?
I think loss, growth, emotional turmoil, happiness and serenity. Both what I experience, and what I strive to achieve. While I create art to express the emotions that I need to, I also use it as an escape. So much of my work also explores playfulness, both in terms of color, form, and composition.
How does your choice of material inform the final artwork?
I make art in a very tactile way, so the materiality of what I’m working with always dictates the form and expression of everything. But I think stylistically my work remains the same no matter the medium.
Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?
As I said previously, light, and the fleeting moments it creates, are probably my greatest inspiration. But other than that I would say music since to me it’s just raw emotion. Music has gotten me through so much in my life, and I feel like through it you can create such an intense emotional connection to events, moments, and developments in your life that it taps into a subconscious plane where emotions and creative expression are intertwined.
How has your background in graphic design and illustration influenced your work? How does one inform the other?
I think they’re sort of all the same thing, while obviously being very different, and they inform each other constantly. I made art and drawings before I went to school for illustration, I learned the trade of illustration, graphic design, and furthered my art practice at school, and then graduated and have done freelance illustration and design almost interchangeably ever since. Illustration and graphic design are commercial work so obviously you often have to appease a client in those exchanges, but they’re also about communication and being direct. In my art practice I have no one to please but myself so I’ll often react to projects I’ve worked on when I get back in the studio and I’m fresh off an illustration or design gig.
Are you influenced by any author or non-visual artist? Are you influenced by any artist that does something completely different than you?
Yeah I love reading, fiction mostly - a few authors that I’m informed by are: William Gibson, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Haruki Murakami. I love photography - nature, and landscapes mostly. I recently bought a book by Katalin Deér that I love.
Are you formally trained? Did you go to art school?
I’m a formally trained illustrator - I went to art school at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and graduated in 2014.
While I create art to express the emotions that I need to, I also use it as an escape. So much of my work also explores playfulness, both in terms of color, form, and composition.
Do you remember the first work of art that captured your attention?
It’s hard for me to say specifically, but we had this Woody Crumbo etching in my living room when I was a kid that always captivated me - it still does to this day!
Do you admire or draw inspiration from any of your peers who are also working now? Have you ever collaborated, or would you? How solitary is your art-making process?
I admire all of my peers, and think I draw inspiration from them always, whether literally or figuratively. I love collaborating with friends - it’s always a great learning experience and whether it works out well or not, it’s always something that I remember fondly. I’m a very solitary person so much of my work is made accordingly, and I’m often in the studio alone, but I typically share what I’m working on with friends when I have the opportunity.
Is there any artwork on display in your home/studio? Whose is it?
Yeah I have paintings and prints on display in my home by Bill Rebholz, Frank William, Joe BB, Joy Nuanez, and Dan Bunn - all close friends of mine.
What’s one of your favorite objects you own? What’s the story?
I’m not a super sentimental person but probably one of my t-shirts, haha. I think I have a few that are like 15 years old that I would wear all the time. I love that objects can be a direct link to the past and seem to hold some sort of power to them.
Is there something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am right-handed, I live in New York because it’s one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever been to, and I didn’t get a driver’s license until I was 24.
What is your favorite color, and what is your least favorite color?
So hard to say, but greens are my favorite color (hunter, olive, and emerald in that order) and my least favorite color used to be red, but I’ve been trying to use red in more work since it’s sort of just like hot pink but more violent. I would say orange is my least favorite currently.
What’s next for you?
Making more work - 2022 has been a great year for me creatively, collaborating, growing, and trying new things without fear. I look forward to the future!
Published December 15, 2022.
Eddie PerroteNew York, NYIn Eddie's paintings, figurative abstraction and graphic symbolism blend together to create a personal narrative that brings form to emotional and physical sensations, from the experience of joy and heartache to the palpable effervescence of morning dew in a forest.View Artist