Chris Spencer, an artist who relishes in exploring new techniques as well as bringing pop culture into some of his works. His love for the San Diego Chargers, surfing, and Mix Martial Arts (MMA) can be seen in some of his works. He is not afraid to draw anything that comes to mind.
First off, tell me about yourself!
I am 27 years old, born and raised on the small Island of Guam. I grew up with a deep connection to the ocean and this passion is reflected in my art. I moved to San Diego in high school and fell in love with surfing. When I am not drawing, I enjoy going to the beach, watching Charger games, or exploring the zoo with my family.
What kind of artist do you consider yourself?
I am most recognized for my use of black ink and intricate patterns, however I feel like claiming a certain style or medium places a limitation on my art. I prefer to keep myself open and not box myself in to being one kind of artist.
How did you get started as an artist? Are you professionally trained or did this develop as more of a hobby?
I guess it all started in high school; I would use a sharpie and would sketch and draw while in class. It started with simple patterns and quickly turned into full pages of art. I have a BA in history but spent many hours drawing. I have not had any professional training.
Your work is extremely detailed! You obviously put a lot of time and effort in each piece. How much patience do you need to complete one project?
I do put a lot of time and effort into each piece. Unless I have a deadline, I usually do my art at night and stretch it out over a week. Sometimes I get hyped about a certain piece or idea and I will not stop until I finish the whole piece. I only work when I am in the mood. I try not to force it, but it seems like I’m always in the mood for art.
Your work is unlike others that I’ve seen. The detailing is incredible and I often find myself looking deeper, almost searching for a hidden meaning… How would you describe your personal style? Where do you draw inspiration from?
I mostly work with black ink on a white surface in intricate patterns, with some glimpses of bright colors. I weave in ocean themes and my inspiration comes from my love of the ocean, but my main approach starts with one simple concept and I construct the rest of the piece around that main idea. I just keep adding on, I never get the full picture of what I want to draw it always comes to me while I’m working.
What audience are you trying to reach with your art?
I am not trying to reach a certain type of audience when it comes to my art. I love to make art and if it connects with others, it’s a great thing. One lesson I have learned is that for myself there is no such thing as good art or bad art, there is only art!
Your choice of canvas varies incredibly! From paddles to large murals, t-shirts to masks… what makes you venture out from the traditional?
I am constantly looking for new things to draw on. I try and push myself. Just recently, I drew on some Stand Up Surfing Paddles as an award for the C4 waterman surf contest for Duke Kahanamoku Oceanfest In Hawaii, with paddles it really pushes my art there are no second chances if I make a mistake on paper I can start over, but when someone hands you a paddle and says do your work I get pumped up. I really have to step my game up and let my pen flow. Some of my favorite pieces are framed and backlit, highlighting specific details.
With all of these different platforms & canvases, is there any one in particular that would you like to concentrate on if you could? Clothing line? Murals?
I am passionate about creating one-of-a-kind pieces that are special and made specifically for the client. Recently, I have been exploring clothing design. I am currently designing some great pieces for a clothing line, and would like to start making hats and shirts of my own.
I see that you tend to incorporate pop culture images into your drawings. Is there a hidden message behind this?
No hidden messages. I am intrigued by the blend of pop-culture images with my personal, more organic, style.
Why do you incorporate athletes, especially San Diego Chargers, into some of your work?
Well I love football and MMA (mixed martial arts) so I guess it was a natural fit that I worked those elements into my art. I was able to get in touch with one of my all-time favorite NFL players, Kassim Osgood. I created a piece for him, he loved it, so it led me to more and more pieces of art with the Chargers in it. I also did a piece for UFC president Dana White, and I did a drawing of Lil Wayne and sent it to him in Jail.
Favorite Sharpie? Why?
I would have to say Extra Fine Black Sharpies are my favorite. I love that the tip is fine enough that I can draw intricate patterns in small spaces and it still be detailed enough to look good.
You obviously love the black and white combination. What do you find most appealing about this pairing? In some pieces though, you add pops of color, what is it about this method that intrigues you?
I think black and white looks very elegant, but there are instances where I want to give special attention to something and I will add a little color to make it stand out a little more.
What is your next project and can you tell us about it?
I am currently working with a company on some art work for their clothing line, and I am really excited to do a piece on a big sheet of glass that I bought for myself.
Do you have any advice for other artists like yourself?
I would say stick with it, and understand that with art some people are not going to enjoy your work where other people may love it. As long as you enjoy what you’re making then you should be fine. Be open to trying new things.
What do you hope for in the future?
I hope that in the future art classes in schools would be a little more prevalent than they are now. And I hope that people keep enjoying my art, it’s a great feeling when I make a piece for someone and they really enjoy all the time and effort I put in my work.
Thank you to Chris Spencer for taking the time to be interviewed. Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisLspencer. And as always, Uncap What’s Inside!