We asked 30 people who we admire to each interview one person they admire. That’s the concept behind the Interview Issue presented by Design Within Reach.
Greg Alterman chose Petecia Coleman
Greg founded Alternative Apparel, M/F People and co-founded Juice Served Here. You’ll find him at @gregalterman. Petecia is an artist and creative director who you can follow at @lefawnhawk
At sunrise, I saw our incredible model, Nana Gana, nude except for an Alternative Apparel tee, doing Sun Salutations as the sun came up over the horizon.
Greg Alterman: What’s the project that you have been most recently working on?
Petecia Coleman: Oh my, so much!! I’ve recently been collaborating with sculptors that I admire (i.e. JS Nero, Aleph Geddis, and Spencer Hansen) to create otherworldly and surreal landscapes through my photography.
I’ve been continuing to work on my large scale, hyper-detailed, moving meditation pencil drawings of natural elements found in the desert. I’ll be showcasing three new pieces for the Maxwell Alexander Gallery Black Friday show. I have a permanent collection being exhibited with Modern West Fine Art Gallery. As well as a traveling and ever-evolving exhibit with the talented London-based artist, Tom Jean Webb. We recently showed together at the Platform and are planning an exhibit in San Francisco this Winter.
I’m also currently collaborating as a Creative Director with the talented band, Lucius (now touring with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd), for their upcoming album release and tour. As well as various other exciting freelance photography, film and branding projects. I’m also helping develop a fun and far out progressive political puppet show called “The Network” with the talented puppet master Mitchell Kulkin for the streaming app, blackpills. This is the kind of playful pet project that nurtures my activist spirit. As my mother says, “I never let the coattails fall!”
GA: What has been your favorite project of your career?
PC: Such a hard one, so many great ones. How about working with YOU on Alternative Apparel Campaigns and designing the first ever Magalog! You were so trusting and supportive. You really allowed me an absolute creative freedom to do what no brands were doing at the time. We really pushed the boundaries of what a T-shirt company could be. You are so fun to collaborate with! You are a force of nature… I look up to you and always kick myself for not taking more advantage of your mentorship!
A great Alternative Apparel photoshoot memory: we took an RV filled with 20 people out to the Soggy Bottom Dry Lake and constructed our own mini Burning Man/ Mad Max universe complete with warrior face paint, gyrocopters and experimental military vehicles thanks to the kindness of the eccentric locals! We shot all day and all night. I remember at sunrise, I saw our incredible model, Nana Gana, nude except for an Alternative Apparel tee, doing Sun Salutations as the sun came up over the horizon. We didn’t print that image, but it’s emblazoned forever in my memory in all its glory and splendor.
My hero, the ever-blooming orchid in the toilet who lights up the room with her smile and touches the heart of every hardened man.
GA: How do you think your childhood helped shape your career?
PC: I grew up pretty poor and in what some would call dysfunctional chaos… I think I had to flex my creative prowess as a child to create beauty out of the madness. It was my daily quest to seek the diamond in the rough. A little trailer girl’s treasure hunt, I seem to have never given up.
I had a wild and free-spirited mother who possessed the awe and curiosity of a child and the strength and wisdom of one who had seen it all. I remember sitting in an empty trailer with my two siblings that we had just moved into. We had no electricity and played the game of LIFE ’til the sun went down. I hear our laughter filling the space, our faces glowing from the last evening light in that room. I can see it all so vividly… she’d pull us out of bed in the middle of the night, in the freezing cold, just to show us the night sky covered in glittering stars.
It’s moments like these, stripped of all the frills and unnecessary clutter of modern life… lush with the emotional depth and simplicity of being, that true magnificence and real-world magic lives. I seek to create that and share that with the world every day.
GA: When you look back on where you have been in your entire life, who has been the most impactful character in helping shape your art and your personal growth?
PC: Greg Alterman! I was such a wildcard we met! You saw the creative potential in me and took me in without hesitation and mentored and encouraged me in a professional environment that was your company. It was really the bouncing board for me. You gave this butterfly in the wind some structure and knowledge in applying intuition with strategic creative intelligence in business. I must mention my mother of course… my hero, the ever-blooming orchid in the toilet who lights up the room with her smile and touches the heart of every hardened man. And I must acknowledge my husband and creative soul mate, Mark Maggiori. He’s taught me so much about myself and myself as an artist. And I have such gratitude for my very special and incredible community of artists and entrepreneurs who continue to astonish and humble me every day.
GA: What does your ultimate lifelong career dream look like?
PC: To be able to create without limitation; to create beauty, connection, depth and inspiration in this world with magnificent potency. Through an unlimited range of mediums and through collaborations that make the heart sing. I want to create experiences that encourage us to connect to the vital life force and creative impulse to the heart on the deepest levels. I want to inspire awareness and connection to our environment, nature and those around us that we are so lucky to exist within this moment in time, on this living and breathing rock spinning in an infinite universe.
I don’t like to put a “title” to that… But I hope to be a successful renaissance woman… a master jack-of-all-trades. And to encourage more like me to courageously make our world a thriving and harmonious place to dance in.
The real learning is learning to get out of my own way, to put the self-saboteur to bed daily.
GA: Which artistic medium are you enjoying
PC: I enjoy them all. The process of discovering the technical process of achieving your creative desires through the medium and executing as close as possible to your vision according to the practice and the knowledge you’ve gained from applying that medium in your work. Mostly I enjoy the creative process, the real learning is learning to get out of my own way, to put the self-saboteur to bed daily, and let the creative spark ignite its tiny golden flames into the world.
GA: What area do you feel like you have the most underused talent?
PC: I don’t sing enough! I had a band for a few years and so much enjoyed writing songs and performing. Since my band fell apart, I’ve quieted… but I hope this medium is reignited sometime in the future! I like the idea of starting a band at 80 years old and performing for all the future hipsters dancing in 2063!!
GA: What would you say to your 15-year-old self?
PC: I’d say, tell her 34-year-old self to remember her fearlessness, to remain curious, eager and full of life! To be a total goof no matter who’s looking, to not be so hard on herself, to work less and play more, to love her body at every age, to dance and laugh as much as possible, to embrace every stranger and to watch every sunrise and sunset she is so lucky to be alive to witness!!