Erik Petrie, is a Scottish painter with a smile as wide as the Firth of Forth and enough energy to power the lights on the new Queensferry Crossing. He has found his destiny as an artist and is loving every minute of his newfound success.
“My paintings are now on display in a random set of galleries but it was only when I got the chance of space at The Scottish Design Exchange that things started taking off for me. I was one of the earliest in and my hopes soared when, with the paint barely dried on one of my works, it was snapped up by a man who told me that this was first for him too. He had only ever bought prints from Ikea, now urged on by his children, he had got himself an original painting. He was delighted and I was ecstatic.” That was just the start Eric needed and a long way from his first exhibition in a pub.
Breath of fresh air.
“After trekking around galleries and trying to find a market for my art that didn’t involve prohibitive commission rates, the Scottish Design Exchange was a breath of fresh air and an opportunity too good to miss. It does exactly what is says on the tin – I pay a small rent for the chance to display there and I get all the proceeds from the sale of my paintings and prints. The staff are absolutely brilliant and have guided me at every stage. Now I also display in Perth and Glasgow and my reputation is growing.”
In his earliest days SDX each sale was a godsend. “It was thanks to one such sale that I was able to pay off an engagement ring I was buying for Kirsten, now my wife. In truth, she hadn’t trusted me to choose a ring and we were on stroll around Ocean Terminal when Kirsten spotted one she (and I) liked. I put a deposit down there and then. A little while later SDX told me that another of my paintings had been sold. That was it. Straight to jewellers to pay it off.”
Erik even snapped up an invitation to interpret Shostakovich’s Revolution Symphony in paint, when it was being performed by the Edinburgh Quartet. “My role was to listen to the music and put what it evoked in me down on canvas. Opportunities like that don’t come along every day and in any case, as I get older, I find myself more open to say to yes to things I may have held back from in the past.”
From his earliest days, Erik knew he had artistic talent but, like so many before and since it was his academic performance that seemed to count for everything at school. He managed to get into Edinburgh Art College – graduating in 2002. Then the struggle to get noticed and find an outlet for his work began. “I worked in Museums and Galleries to keep myself going and get closer to the world I so wanted to inhabit. I was getting to see lots of exhibitions and learning something every day” But, working was also a means to fund his passion. He painted in acrylics and even at one stage – boot polish. He simply could not afford to buy oils.”
Now Erik is a prolific painter. He is a bundle of likeable enthusiasm and a talent Scotland should be proud of. To see Erik Petrie’s art, go to the Scottish Design Exchange at Ocean Terminal or its new shop in Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries, due to open for business this summer.