Today, we are joined by Chris Parks , he is an Illustrator. You can view his portfolio here.

 

  • Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for.illustration started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!

There’s always been something about constantly having a creative project in the works that I have forever enjoyed. I would likely be totally miserable if I didn’t have some sort of weird project or concept in my head that I wanted to bring to life in some way. As a young kid, it was strange shit like ventriloquism and puppeteering, then as I got a little older, my friends and I would come up with ridiculous stories and make terrible movies out of them with me cast as a cyborg or a ninja, or something . Then it was hardcore and metal bands that got to experience my creative genius. I had been in bands throughout high school and this made me to want to learn graphic design and Photoshop, so that I could create album art and t-shirts for us to sell at shows to pay for our traveling. In college, during the time I probably should have been doing my graphic design homework, I would spend my evenings writing insane stories and lyrics, loosely based on norse mythology, but the main, wrathful deity just happened to be a supernatural, abominable snowman. I would then perform regularly with my band-mates where I screamed these lyrics into a microphone at venues and metal bars around the state while wearing pleather pants, corpse-paint makeup and spiked, leather gauntlets. I realized that I probably wouldn’t be taken seriously as a Norwegian black metal singer forever. (People might find out that my family was actually from Bermuda and the gig would be up.) So I decided to focus on drawing and designing visual art instead of music for now.

  • Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?

This probably sounds cliché, but I see at each illustration that I work on as an opportunity to learn and teach myself something new. I am never satisfied with staying where I’m at with my skill level. I have a perpetual need to experiment within my illustrations, to try different techniques, to print on new materials and I try to incorporate everything that I’ve learned previously into the piece that I’m currently working on. Drawing has never come easily for me. It’s something that I have always had to work hard at and I guess that never sticking to one style or subject probably doesn’t help much. But, the more that I learn and the more skills and tools that I incorporate, the more exciting it is to pick up the pen and start a new illustration each time. I guess perhaps it’s similar skateboarding, or playing guitar… The better you are at it, the more fun it is to practice with it. This is how I look at it and I hope to keep expanding and trying new things for as long as I live.

  • Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?

A few books that I am always telling artists about are: “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron & “The Art of Learning” by Josh Waitzkin. I am a big fan of listening to audio books and podcasts while drawing. For me It’s like having a set of personal trainers that are constantly in my ear, pushing and motivating me to become better and more efficient each day. I also enjoy hearing about and learning from artists who have pulled off incredible things with their work and their lives. Hearing about the paths of others who have struggled and succeeded has helped me to remove mental limits that I put on myself. Right now, I’m all about a podcast called “The Tim Ferriss Show”. Many of the methods that I’m currently using are inspired by Tim and his guests. Another cool, media tip is that I also use brainwave entrainment or binaural beats audio to focus my mind while drawing and meditating. Try typing ‘brainwave’ or ‘binaural beats’ into google for how it works, then type it into the search bar in Spotify to see where it takes you.

  • Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?

Lately, I’ve been using the methods in the book I mentioned, ‘The Artist’s Way’ to pay more and more attention to my intuition or inner, creative voice. I spend the mornings on a picnic table in our back yard. I wake up early and everyday and I write two pages of stream- of-consciousness notes in a journal. I don’t generally read the notes, but I use them to first, get the useless baggage out of my head and then, the mindless writing makes it possible to more easily tune into and put on paper, what my subconscious is telling me in that moment. I have also created a ritual or trigger that I use in the early evenings. This is a concept that I picked up from ‘The Art of Learning’. In the book, Waitzkin suggests that we can take the frustration out of waiting for inspiration by creating a trigger. So rather than wait for a creative spark to hit my brain, I invite it regularly with: 2 minutes of kettle bell swings (I keep a kettle bell next to my desk), 10 minutes of meditation and then I listen to the same song every time called “Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1” by “The Mountain Goats”. It might sound weird, but doing these magick rituals makes the time that I spend at my desk drawing so much more productive and exciting.

  • Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?

I start my day early. I wake up at 7:15am, do my free writing, water the plants, make breakfast for my wife and I, listen to music, drink lots of coffee and run our pit bull ‘Achilles’ around the neighborhood as he pulls me on my bike and chases cats. Then, I get into the studio around 10am where I answer emails, check in with clients, post on social media sites and plan my day. While I do tend to draw all day, I try to finish all of the less creative stuff early and I create most of my actual sketches and illustrations after the sun goes down. I usually work till around 10-11pm, then go home and watch a movie or some series to wind down before bed.

  • What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?

I always tell people that it’s a great F*cking time to be an artist! I’m not saying that it’s easy by any means, but with an internet connection, a good amount of  patience/humility dedication/practice, some good equipment and a drive to keep creating and hustling every day, I get to make the the type of work that I want to make and actually connect with people who want to pay me to make it. This is still so insane to me! Whenever a well known company or brand wants to hire me to create work in my style, or a collector buys a gallery piece, I get a huge kick out of it every time. My stance is to do whatever works for you and to listen to your inner voice. For me, knowing that the art I’m making here at my desk in Florida, is being seen and enjoyed by people all over the planet is amazing in itself. I love visiting major cities like New York and LA, but it’s great to be able to stay and contribute here in the place that I grew up and work remotely with clients across the country and globe. Every day has the possibility of bringing a new project or opportunity. For me, the key now is to keep a sense of where I’m headed and learn to select those opportunities that are most in line with where I want to go.

  • What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?

Well… I quit my steady, well paying job at a local agency to start this monstrosity of a freelance career, so let’s hope it continues to work out, because I don’t really have a backup plan. And, I’m afraid that I might be too used to the creative freedom to be very employable at this point. If I did go back to an agency, I would at least need a private office for all of the weird techniques that I’ve listed, so that coworkers wouln’t think I was a loon.

  • How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?

I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t like to wait around for that ideal project to land in my lap. Whenever I have the thought of an ideal project, I make it a point to finish up my current client projects and waste a bunch of money and time to start working on whatever crazy thing I can’t stop thinking about. That way, at least I don’t sit around complaining that I never get to work on projects that keep me stimulated and excited. Like right now… I recently got it in my head that I am going to design a series of luchador (mexican wrestler) character concepts and collaborate with an actual, masked luchador that I befriended by going to a lot of wrestling matches here in Tampa to create the physical masks, capes and ring gear. I’ve also hired some, professional luchador friends as life models, to become my characters, take on their personas and perform a series of death defying, arial maneuvers and moves that I will be photographed in a studio using a trampoline and some high ceilings. I’ll then use these images as reference and inspiration for a new series of illustrations. I don’t yet know what the final product will be or how crazy it will get, but that’s what I’m working on
currently… Perfectly ideal I would say.