On a canvas-like gold-illuminated surface, LeBron James takes three forms: a knight donning No. 6 going up for a dunk with laser focus, a stoic warrior in a No. 23 cape and a power-driven king covered in purple hues and royal garments

Celebrities immersed in the symbology of their respective worlds is digital artist Ed-Lamarr Petion’s signature style. Not only does Petion — a University of Maryland senior — draw public figures, he also does characters from comic books, TV shows and movies as well as his own creations.

“Any fandom you can think of, any TV show, musician, artist, athlete, I’ve probably drawn them before,” Petion, a marketing and supply chain management major, said. 

Petion traces his love for art back to his childhood, which was filled with frequent visits to the library. He read a plethora of fantasy and comic books and played video games such as Naruto and Dragon Ball Z

Much of his childhood was spent crafting fictional worlds and characters from scratch in his class journals or with his five siblings. 

They would spend all day drawing to entertain themselves. Seeing these creations encouraged his imagination, which is reflected in his current art

In February, Petion produced a Black History Month series celebrating Black culture by highlighting 12 icons — real and fictional — including Bob Marley, Muhammad Ali, Afro Samurai and Toussaint Louverture. He asked his over 2,000 Instagram followers to help him pick who to draw, an approach he regularly takes

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Petion said the series allowed him to represent people of color in animation, which he was not used to seeing as a child

“It means so much to people just seeing representation,” Petion said. “I could remember seeing my first Black character on TV. I think it was Cyborg from Teen Titans, and I was like, ‘that’s the coolest guy ever because he looks like me.’”

In 2023, Petion challenged himself to draw every day for five months straight. He created multiple series during this period, including one surrounding the seven deadly sins. He completed many other series — one highlighting cartoon shows he and his peers grew up on, one celebrating famous athletes and one taking inspiration from the Rorschach Inkblot Test.

Drawing consistently made Petion more efficient. He’s reduced his average time per piece from seven or eight hours to two or three hours

Petion faced every day with determination and was motivated by the positive reactions he received from his followers, he said.

“I can’t say that I’ve seen a style similar to his anywhere else,” Alim Smith, Petion’s friend and customer, said. “He really seems to use color in a way that makes you want to keep looking at the art.”

Petion approaches every art piece with intentionality. For example, when drawing a musician, he assigns colors to different sounds in their music and includes hidden symbols that capture his subject’s identity.

In a Bob Marley piece he created, every detail was thought out and symbolic. It was important to Petion that he stay true to Marley, which he did in part by including flowers native to Jamaica in his work.

To expand his art to other demographics, Petion makes posters and T-shirts featuring his graphic art. He also takes commissions, attends art conventions and participates in pop-up events at this university.

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Justín Reyna, Petion’s career mentor and a professor at this university’s business school, has purchased clothing from Petion. He wears it when he wants to represent Petion at art events

“I wear it with pride,” Reyna said. “They’re very highly stylized; these are statement pieces. You’re saying something to the world.

Petion is currently working on comic books that represent his identity and blend his passions for fiction and art. He hopes to pursue art for the rest of his life

“At the end of the day, it’s my first love and I’ll always love it,” Petion said. “It’s like how people can get lost in piano or play an instrument where they can express themselves. My words don’t do justice as much as my art does.”