“Making Thought Seen” has always been Chris’ tagline and for good reason. His roots are based in being the kid with his head down and a pencil/pen in hand all throughout elementary school, and through his H.S. years as well. It all led to him starting his freelance business Inkproof (doing all custom art from murals, painting commissions, live painting shows, and all when he gets some breathing room from his full time tattooing career he’s been in deep since 2008.)
He’s been regarded as one of the more sought out tattooers in the industry because of his specific flavor, and next level attention to detail in his work. He’s got a story that led to where he is now and where he’s heading with his art and to say he hasn’t had it easy is a huge understatement.. what has remained is always knowing hard work and remaining a student in this thing called the art world, has stayed at the forefront for him.
Being from the Washington DC area he grew up with influences left and right in art, music and culture, and always stays true to those roots with having his own flavor in every piece he works on no matter what it is. Traveling to tattoo clients, doing speaking engagements, working on murals or whatever it may be has been something Chris has done a lot more of over the recent years as well. No stranger to promoting himself, Chris keeps his work fresh and visible for the world to follow with his creative fuel constantly lit, and isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
What’s your preferred medium to paint? Have you tried different mediums before?
My preferred medium is a loaded question, for sure. As someone who paints, uses pencils daily with sketching and drawing.. and tattoos, I'd have to Acrylics, then a really close second would be pencil.. but pushing paint on canvas or mural work is on the top for me these days. I have tried many mediums, and worked in many over the years, and I'm very fortunate I learned a long time ago to pick up brushes, to cans, eventually tattoo machines and inks... and of course never losing sight of the basics in pencil. There's nothing like moving some lead around paper.
Favorite living artists?
I'd say some of my favorite living artists range from: (and in various mediums)
Does, Greg Simkins, Matthew Cornell, MadC, Kadir Nelson and Pose... to name a few... ha! Now if you ask me non living favorite artists, that would take some time.. that's a long list.
I'd definitely have to say the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, simply for the layout and the fact that my Great Grandmother (Maria Martins) was one of the founders.. kind of a really cool lineage nod in my family.. she also has one of her sculptures in the garden there. Also the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Being originally from Maryland and always having the Smithsonian and some of the best Museums in the Country growing up a 20 min drive away.. I was spoiled with gems like The National Gallery of Art, the Portrait Gallery and more.
What’s the meanest thing someone has said about your art? How did you respond?
Wow, that's a good one... Meanest thing anyone's said about my art.. that i know of, right? Ha! I think a good friend from High School that's now a well known art curator in California let me know some years back, because I do work in many mediums it can be confusing to the person looking up my work or for potential clients.
I took it as mean I suppose at first, because I thought that was a good thing to be versatile in various things... and it can be.. but to know I needed to focus more on one practice than others actually helped in the long run. At first I was honestly a little frustrated, because working for years and years and tons of sleepless nights, and all becoming a full time artist entails.. let's just say it was some humble pie I ended up being grateful for.
Who was you biggest supporter when you decided to pursue art as a career?
I'd have to say my biggest supporter was my Mother since day one. Maybe when I was 6 and painted and drew all over my parents bedroom walls wasn't the best start... but when she realized as I got older I was honestly going after my passion and then living off of it, she gave me that Mom approval for real and told me to do what made me happy... glad I listened. My late Father waited some years to see I could actually support myself on my art before co-signing. I think also getting a portrait of them in the 70's tattooed on my arm, let him know this art thing he didn't know much of could have some relevance in my world.. Also of course, my older sister Jen and my amazing girlfriend Krysta.. having an almost 5 year old at home, and having a career of her own and someone that has a brain that goes 100 mph with ideas and projects daily.. she's a champion to have my back with my career as an artist.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to make art for a living?
First off, it's gonna be a road.... one with bumps, detours, rejections, love, praise, and a lot of self reflection... but what a dope road it is! Also, (and it took me from about 20-42 yrs old to let this truly sink in.... guess I'm a slow learner) MAKE WORK THAT MAKES YOU CONTENT. I get it.. the bills, the rent, the this, the that... and "having" to sell work for peanuts for years, have your prices questioned for years by some people that just don't understand or honestly care that you spent a month and 40 hours making that painting.. been ther for years. Not easy, but in my opinion it just isn't supposed to be... not saying that's the case for everyone... but it's true in my story.
Also I firmly believe that no matter how it sounds, honoring your truth in your work has to be a main focus eventually. If you had told me at the beginning of my career how much fun & straight up contentment I'd have at the easel for 8 hours a day working on a gallery show of sunsets, docks, and waves... I would have looked at you a little sideways. Truth is, I found a place within my work that feeds the little kid that has all these memories of places I wanted to paint... and I think an audience relates to that no matter who they are. I've learned if there's a story the person seeing the work has of their own that they can bring into a painting, it's a beautiful relationship with themselves they may not have even known was there... to wrap it back around here, honor yourself in your work and the rest happens organically.
Chris's Favorite Trekell Products:
ALL THE ONES I'VE TRIED!!! (dead honest about that) Which is why it's so bad ass to be answering these and talking to you guys now. I started with the one and only Craola's set a couple years back, and loved them... I do a lot of detail in my canvas work, but I also use a good amount of water with each painting session I sit down to. His brushes, the #10 and the Golden Taklon's are amazing for moving paint around smooth as hell. The dagger tips for fine line work, detailing, etc. are great also. I'm really hyped on the new set from the mighty Natalia Fabia that just came in also! I'm excited to try the #4 Spectrum for longer pulls and larger areas to cover, and the #2 Golden Taklon from her set for details I tend to get lost in.. I knew from the first time I used the brushes though, that there was a different care Trekell took in quality. I've tried various brushes over the years, but when I dove in with these, never looked back!
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