Chris (1982, Calgary, Canada) what drew you into the graffiti, cartoons & children’s books world?
Well cartoons and childrens books were a big part of growing up, for most people id assume. That just stuck with me over the years as a nostalgic sense of fun and innocence's that i could draw from (pun intended). The graffiti began in about 96-97 when i was taking the train to my highschool everyday. I used to see these 2 crews AST and PJF all over the warehouses and backs of commercial buildings along the train line, and became very curious about who was doing this and how. I met a couple other guys from my school who had just started painting themselves and they brought me out one night to paint this abandoned waterslide park.. I was hooked after that. I moved to the Toronto area in 2001 where i met some real motivated and talented writers, and from there i was a graffiti junkie for about 4 years. I was painting about 4-5 nights a week until sunrise most times, and id go to bed and dream about painting again the next day. That time in my life was probably one of the most fun and productive times i have ever experienced. I owe alot of my success to those people showing me the ropes of graffiti and art in general.
Sound Byte - Amoebot series
Your style can be described as a hybrid of styles.True?
Ya i suppose that is true. I always have a tough time describing my style. Its a variety of different elements and styles sorta put into the artistic blender and made up into my own creative milkshake. I have alot of influences from both old and new artists, friends, cartoons, books, MAD magazine, graffiti, and probably alot more that im not even completely aware of are mixed in there.
Crash & Burn
What’s your favorite painting technique?
Im not sure if its a technique necessarily, but my process involves layers, texture and pattern. I use alot of mixed media so i find myself using all sorts of different techniques to try and achieve what it is im looking for, and sometimes just to see what might happen if i try something else. It all depends on how im feeling about what im doing at the moment. Throwing alot of paint around when i make my backgrounds is probably the most fun area of making new works... is throwing paint a technique?
Your work is very rich of color and hides a deep sense of humor. What’s the message?
I like to leave the message up to the viewer mostly. I work with themes of love, lose, lust sometimes, other times things might be based around fairytales and life lessons ive learned over the years. For me, im always trying to achieve a sense of conflict within the characters themselves. Sometimes this has a very clear meaning and message, other times its a little more hidden. When people look at my work i hope they can somehow relate aspects of it back into there own personal lives, and accept the idea the life aint perfect, but you can still have some fun. On a large scale id like the message to be, "Dont take life too serious, just roll with the punches".
Orgasmo - Amoebot series
How do you develop your characters and where do they come from?
All my characters begin in the sketchbook as doodles. I just get my hand moving alot of the times and see what shapes and marks i can make, and then if i see something that i can turn into an idea or character, i chase after that idea. Its all very random, i never sit down with the intent of making a specific character or idea come to life. I like to just let my brain pour out onto the pages and reconstruct something fun from all the mess.
What inspires you to paint?
My friends & family are number 1, they are all super supportive of my creative endeavors, and aren't afraid to tell me if something is crap or spectacular. Music and books have alot to do with what inspires me aswell. Music especially. Song lyrics and sounds can often spark new ideas and get me really pumped up on spending a night in the studio painting.
When you’re planning out a piece, how do you arrive at the finished product?
After the whole doodling process, and after i've refined an idea from those doodles, i generally just sit down and get busy. Sometimes the finished product can change dramatically and other times it stays right on target with the original drawing. Ever piece gets to a certain stage where i have to really sit back and look at what's going on, it might even take me another day or two to figure out what is missing from a painting before i consider it done. Once it arrives at the finished product, i just know. I think most paintings are never really complete, just completed to a point where i am very satisfied with the result.
Heaven & Hell
Tell me about your last group show, “From Me To You” presented by Show & Tell Gallery (’09). Was it a good experience?
It was a great experience! It was fantastic to be showing with such a great lineup of talented artists. The gallery owner Simon Cole is a great human being and im just honored to be apart of the exhibit. Hopefully the first of many to come at Show & Tell.
Do you usually collaborate with other artists?
I have collaborated in the past with other artists, but generally im a bit of a lone wolf. In the early graffiti years i did alot of collabo work with my buddies, but in terms of the fine art or illustration scene, i tend not to.
Two Days Slow
What’s next for you?
Well i have a handful of group shows in the first half of 2010 in Des Moines, Toronto, New York, Seattle and possibly Boston. Im also ironing out details for a few side projects and private commisions, so its looking to be a great start to the year so far. After all that, i plan to move out west to Vancouver and try a few years on the left coast.