A traveller continuously on the move, and an intense observer of the world around her. Visual artist Pat Perry, a native of the south-eastern part of the state of Michigan and raised in the town of Comstock Park, in the north of the United States, fits the profile most would assume for these types of independent creators: nonconformist, a social agitator, adventurer, without a fixed abode, drives a pick-up truck and a motorcycle, has been arrested in the past… However, his proclivity for drawing, which began in childhood with a few simple scribbles, and his innate artistic capabilities, have shown him to be one with a promising future.

He fiercely defends the parameters that define his work and does not hesitate to reject large offers if the project does not interest him. There are those who may consider him a snob, but both the emotional and time investment that he puts into his work must exceed all expectations.

The most striking aspect of his work, which covers all kinds of graphic work from murals to graffiti to commissions for large companies such as the New York Times, Fearless Records and Urban Outfitters, is his particular vision of the facts. It is as if through his work, with a dreamlike quality, a completely different world to what the rest of us see exists. Works in ink, acrylic or pen form part of an incredible portfolio that builds as he travels, and in which lay bare his disagreements with many of the social problems he encounters.

Image from Pat Perry designer.

“I just want to do work that reflects the situations that really matter,” says the artist. He is like a new Robin Hood, roaming the world in search of new social values, who uses his work to express everything on his mind. “I started to travel by hitch-hiking or riding the rails without a lot of means. I had no money and wanted to discover the country. I didn’t need to carry too much in my backpack either – I just wanted to make art and that’s what I want to continue doing,” he says.

“I just want to do work that reflects the situations that really matter”

What he does do regularly is participate in collaborative projects, such as those developed with the Beehive Design Collective, a social justice movement focused on the arts to raise awareness of problems that affect certain social communities. “Through this movement and thanks to my graphic work, I’ve been able to give better visibility to the problems in Detroit, the city I now live in, such as unemployment, the lack of food, education or the water supply system,” he says.

Illustration for "California Sunday Magazine".
Work for "Campesino Power".

A frequent reader of authors such as Max Horkheimer, Friedrich Nietzsche and David Foster Wallace, Pat tries to manage all the processes that feed his work. That’s why it’s important to him to never stand still. He recently travelled to a number of cities in Europe, invited by different international festivals such as Mad by Domestika and OFFF Barcelona to talk about the philosophy of his method.

“Sometimes I’m just looking to get away from places. I need to be alone and behave as a mere observer of things, and then build a visual vocabulary of everything I’ve seen,” he says. His small notebooks are full of studies, incomplete drawings and quick sketches of moving people and objects, all created in black ink pen.

Pat has always felt constant support for his work and the path he has chosen, from his parents and siblings to his mentor Chuck Anderson. He was a very important figure for a young Pat when he wanted to abandon his studies, and Anderson told him that in order to have creative freedom and do what he wanted, he needed to follow his instincts and always save some money for the unexpected.

“Sometimes I’m just looking to get away from places. I need to be alone and behave as a mere observer of things, and then build a visual vocabulary of everything I’ve seen”

Thanks to advice like this and some truly spectacular work, Pat has complete control over his work and decides the fate of his career. Outside of his home, in a completely rundown area of Detroit, awaits his trailer, in which he lived for a time as a small shelter away from prying eyes, and a new journey to an unknown destination because, as he himself says, he is an adventurer.

Sketches and notes in notebooks.

Previous work in pencil before doing the final work.

Photos: Pat Perry


This article is also available in Español