Meet the Art Queen of Internet: Petra Cortright  


Twice a drop-out – now she's conquered the world

Photo: Stefan Simchowitz


How was your technique developed? 

over the course of 15 years. i liked computers when i was young and i taught myself software when i was a teenager still in high school. i spent a lot of my free time on the internet. at that time i would say only about 25% of my high school peers were also active online, it still was a very niche time to be interested in computers and the internet. now it is a given, probably 99.9% of kids are on social media. when i was in high school i found it very rewarding to make drawings in photoshop and then post them to early forms of social media, and chat about them with friends, some who i knew in person but mostly other people my age from all over the country or from different parts of the world. it was a very powerful feeling back then to feel connected to people so far away. again, nowadays that is a given and people just expect the global connection, but back then it was very exciting for me. when i was thinking about what i wanted to do in life i thought i should be a graphic designer, so i wanted to learn all the software involved with design because i thought that is the only job you could have if you wanted to be creative and also get to work with computers all day. i didn’t know at the time that i could be a painter that uses digital software, i mean it didn’t exist. over time i realize that i just ended up making up what i wanted to do, which was not an easy path, but i am glad i did it. 

At what stage? (during education or later for instance).

when i was 15 i became very serious about really wanting to work with computers, but the majority of the learning came after i dropped out of two different art schools. in my early 20s i felt like i had failed at everything in life but i had a lot of free time, so i did still spend a lot of time making videos and learning software. if you are depressed and the only thing that will make you feel better is to make work, then you are going to spend a lot of time doing that… so i put in a lot of time and i guess it paid off. i wouldn’t say it was hard work, it was just something i decided to put a lot of time into. it never felt hard, it just felt like the right thing to do. ultimately i don’t think i am a hard worker, i am a smart worker and when i work it is very efficient. digital work is fluid and flexible and files can be modified for many different purposes.

To use the image-flow on the internet, is that something that is talked about in art school?

no. maybe it is now, but it wasn’t when i was in school. there were other artist peers that i talked about the significance of the internet with online, but it wasn’t talked about it school.

What is your relationship to impressionists? How close are you to them?

impressionism is calming and easy to look at, it’s very dreamy. i don’t really think about my work in comparison though, that’s very weird for an artist to think about other artist’s work while they make their own. maybe other artists do but i think its weird... it’s not something i do. i am committed to making my own world.

According to you, is there another way of seeing in the internet age than in that from the industrial?

no, everything has really blended together now, nothing is separate...

What is your background, how did you become and artist?

this is probably cliche and maybe even pretentious to say but i have always felt like an artist my whole life. i always liked making things and i got a lot of fulfillment from it, and always knew it was what i wanted to do. so even after i dropped out of two schools it didn’t really matter, i never felt like getting a degree was going to be the thing that would make me an artist or not. it’s just something that was instilled in my sense of self at a young age. it was one of the only things to anchor me even when everything else had gone wrong, and i guess i always recognized that and knew i could count on my creativity in some way.

(Typos are on purpose, artists choice.)

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Petra Cortright
Celebrity addresses/fifi firing tour squad
Digital painting
185,4 x 365,8 cm

Available through CFHILL