British artist and illustrator Erin Petson has achieved international acclaim for her nuanced and original artworks. Her illustrations have a delicate touch and refined sensibility; often created in silence, frequently applying collage, photography, drawing and painting with a distinctive personal griffe.
Described as ‘breathtaking portraits’, her love of drawing, montage and mark-making flows through a prolific body of work that has encompassed fashion, fine art and a new realm somewhere in between. Delicate and provocative, with an almost paper-doll like effect, Petson uses white space to create drama and tranquility in equal measure.
Citing Cy Twombly and London’s Wallace Collection as her current inspiration, Petson grew up in a “very industrial town in the North East of England”. Her first brush with illustration came with an internship at art school at the age of 14. Smitten, she came home to cover her bedroom walls with “drawing after drawing. I told my Mam I was going to be a Fashion Illustrator. I studied my degree in Liverpool, a very creative and lively city.”
Now working with the leading designers and creative minds of Europe, Petson’s whimsical dreams came true through drawing (her first commissions included Stella McCartney and Tank Magazine). Yet her methods remain austere and focused. She works with a 2b pencil, a big flat brush, charcoal, black Indian ink and watered down gold acrylic. She admits she is a workaholic and her muse is not the flurry of cloth but the void of the bare page itself: “I love space and simplicity, I love simple textured surfaces”.
Petson’s success comes on a wave of a new generation of British illustrators creating a renaissance in fashion illustration not seen since the mid twentieth century. For this artist, drawing provides something more than documentation or visual fact:
“A drawing is so personal, so unique, so fluid, its all about communicating something through a simple line on a piece of paper that represents life; a figure, a movement, a woman in a beautiful dress…”
Coming to the attention of gallerists and museum curators Erin Petson’s drawings are becoming collectable. Fifty of her works are in the permanent archived collection of the Victoria and Albert museum and, increasingly, she is accepting private commissions and interest in her fine art prints.
Recent clients include Lancome, Swarovski and Dior, who invited her to take part in their Rene Gruau Beauty exhibition at Somerset House. Erin’s eclient list includes Dior, Vogue, Loro Piana, Mother, Victoria Beckham, Swarovski, Diane Von Furstenberg, Moncler, Lancome, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Elle, WWD Beauty, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Penguin and, most recently, a collaboration with Biondi Couture of Chelsea, London.