First Impressions: Chris Seaman
We talk to the artist with a growing brand of mini monsters…
Find out why this American illustrator most identifies with his own line of miniature monster portraits.
What was your first paid commission?
It was for a children’s book from a small publisher based in Ohio while I was finishing up at art school. It was a challenge to finish my fantasy art portfolio and hit the deadlines for the book. I completed 14 full-colour oil paintings on time and got paid $70 a page. I also painted them 1:1 scale to save time. Each illustration was about four by four inches.
What’s the last piece that you finished, and how do the two artworks differ?
My last piece was for Magic: the Gathering. There’s no comparison to what I’m doing now versus what I did as my first commission. I was young, reserved in my artistic choices and was worried about messing it up. I’ve built up my confidence over the past two decades and the choices I want to make for my current work, I make. It’s the art I want to make, not the art I have to make.
Where did you grow up and how has this influenced your art?
I grew up moving a lot until about the age of nine, when my parents settled in northern Ohio close to Cleveland. Moving a lot, I was never settled and didn’t have many friends growing up. My brother and I were close in age and we were, and still are, best friends. Having creative parents with not much money, we excelled at entertaining ourselves in the early 80s. Then I discovered Star Wars, Master of the Universe, Thunder Cats, Transformers and G.I. Joe, and all I wanted to do was draw my own heroes and villains.
Can you describe the place where you usually create your art?
I have converted a room into a studio space. It’s quaint and cosy, and everything I need is at arm’s length. Easy to get to my paints, brushes and, of course, my cup of coffee.
Do you have an art tool or ritual that you simply can’t live without?
Preparation to begin a drawing or painting has always been essential to my work habits. Gathering reference or photographing my own has been a staple that I use as a tool to tell my stories. The more reference you can lean on before you start a painting, the better your painting will be. Illustration for me has always been about giving the viewer enough visual information.
What, outside of art, has most influenced your artwork?
Friendship. I find that the older I get the more important it is to surround yourself with good friends and family. People who don’t “get it” have moved on, while others who are interested and passionate about the same things are bonds that have carried me through my life. Silly observations or unique insights that a friend might suggest continuously spark ideas for painting and drawings.
What character or scene that you’ve painted do you most identify with?
I most identify with my Cameo Creeps. They’re miniature monster art – like adult Garbage Pail Kids! They reflect my sense of humour, my love of history, horror and fantasy all wrapped into a neatly designed product line. They tap into my nostalgia of my youth and have become the art I’m most proud of.
Is making a living as an artist all you thought it would be?
I don’t know how to answer that question. Life will take you in all directions. There’s no path that’s certain, safe or out of bounds in the arts. Although the goals are the same for every artist – “work hard and make good art” – success is in the eye of the beholder. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
What does the future hold for you?
My Cameo Creeps brand continues to grow and before the end of the year I’ll have some big news that I can’t wait to share! New Kickstarter, new Cameo Creeps and a new look! I’m so excited for where these tiny monsters have taken my career.
Illustration has always been about giving the viewer enough visual information
Visit www.chrisseamanart.com for more about Chris and his Tiny Monster Paintings.
Anti-Heroes “A dramatic scene depicting two of RPG Pathfinder’s iconic characters descending from the rooftops and getting ready for a brawl.” Count Diablo DeLaSkull “This Cameo Creep is husband to Countess Muerta DeLaSkull.”