BENOIT PETRUS, THE SHANGHAIREN
The Shanghairen aims to showcase creative visions of Shanghai. It's inspired by the iconic covers of The Parisianer and The Tokyoiter. The project was first introduced to us by Drawn Volume.3 artist, Xuni Gong who designed a beautiful cover for the project. We spoke to founder Benoit Petrus about The Shanghairen and he walks us through some of his favourite pieces.
Firstly, please could you introduce yourself and tell us about your project, The Shanghairen. How did the project begin?
Hello my name is Benoit Petrus, I used to live in Paris for 8 years before I decide to move to Shanghai in 2014, in pursuit of adventure and exoticism. Today I am working for brands and advertising agencies, producing digital and traditional content for them.
Last year I discovered ‘The Tokyoiter’ online and totally loved it.
I have so many memories and so many different feelings when it comes to Shanghai, I could not resist to imagine what ‘The Shanghairen’ would be like.
I had no idea where to start, nor how could I convince enough illustrators, but I decided to start the project, I reached out to some friends and artists and finally manage to onboard 30 people in one month.
Can you explain how you and the editorial team select covers for The Shanghairen? Is there an initial concept or brief that the artist has to follow?
There is no particular rules artist have to follow, the brief is quite simple :
The cover have to represent unique sides of Shanghai, in a rather manifest way.
Do you have any particular favourite or memorable covers that you’d like to share?
Peter Zhao’s cover is reminiscent of the hot nights of summer, when street food stands were still allowed everywhere. By looking at the cover you could almost smell and hear the sound of the chǎomiàn ( Shanghai noodles) being pan fried.
Shane Li is an artist who joined the project very recently, after he discovered the first publications. As he was looking for inspirations, I suggested him to draw the Yanan elevated road on a Saturday night where blue neons lighten the underside of the road. He surprisingly managed to create the same level of intensity as it is in real life.
Peter Zhang’s cover is quite funny, this is probably the common thing that happen to every people who taste xialongbao’s for the first time.
Shanghai is a modern metropolis and one of the world's main financial hubs.
Yet, it still has sprawling Yu Gardens featuring traditional pavilions, towers and ponds.
This juxtaposition between an ultra-modern city and a city that still proudly showcases its cultural, artistic and architectural heritage must make for a unique visual language.
Is this a common theme and source of inspiration for creatives residing in Shanghai?
Exactly, they are living in a very cosmopolitan city with an incredibly diverse mix of cultures from Asia and the rest of the world. They are young people with new values but they also have a growing interest towards their traditions and the roots of their culture.
What are your top 3 destinations that an artist or designer visiting Shanghai should visit?
Yongfoo Elite’s Restaurant ( somehow drawn by Jiayi Ou)
What are your aims for The Shanghairen for the next 12 months?
We will release a website this summer with additional stories about the covers and their authors,
I would also like to experiment with interactive, audio and animated covers.
We are currently discussing with the Mayor of Shanghai to create a physical exhibition for this fall, that’s our biggest goal as we can finally display the arts to a wider audience and gather all artists in the same place.
How can artists submit work and be involved with The Shanghairen?
Thanks for your time today Benoit! It was great to hear more about the project - we’re looking forward to seeing how it progresses!