First Im­pres­sions: Chris Sea­man

We talk to the artist with a grow­ing brand of mini mon­sters…

ImagineFX - - Issue 167 December 2018 - Chris Sea­man

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.chris­sea­ma­ 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.”

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