Artist/Illustrator Chris Roberts visited the Helene Center Tuesday, September 30, in order to deliver an artist talk to Graceland students. Roberts speaks quickly, jumping from subject to subject, falling into disparate tangents and stray thoughts, and all the while his hands move constantly, pointing, sweeping, waving with twitching fingers. Chris Roberts speaks in much the same way he makes art.
Chris Roberts is a mixed media artist who has done illustrations and cover design for authors such as Ray Bradbury and Andy Duncan. Roberts’ work is of a more eclectic nature, using random materials gathered from all over to create images that are in the vein of the weird and creepy. By staying true to his own unique style, Roberts said he was able to find clientele who appreciated his artistic vision and trusted him to make decisions that he felt would be best for the projects overall. Finding a group of people who trust in you as an artist was a key point for Roberts. “When you find those people, you get to do what you want to do”, said Roberts, “the worst that can happen is they say no”.
Roberts’ favorite part of being an artist is the process of making the art itself. Finding new materials and experimenting with different techniques in order to solve design questions is always very enjoyable for him. “All art really is, is problem solving”, said Roberts, “In fact, so is most of adult life.” Something unique about his art was how transparent Roberts is with his process. Many painters want to polish up their work, or in some way disguise the methods that they used to make it, but Roberts isn’t at all bothered if someone can tell exactly how he put something together. That transparency allows the materials he uses to maintain their identities while simultaneously taking on new meaning when seen in conjunction with the rest of the materials in an art piece.
Another piece of advice he had to offer the students was on dealing with accidents. “Don’t worry about accidents. Accidents are your friends”. By choosing to continue to work through mistakes, rather than just getting rid of them or starting over, you force yourself as an artist to work in new and creative ways, and give yourself opportunities to grow. This idea plays into Roberts’ belief that an artist’s style shouldn’t be a stable, unchanging thing, but instead should grow and evolve with the artist as life continues to bring them new experiences.
Robert’s final piece of wisdom was on the importance of knowing how to prepare your art for print. One of the things he was most surprised to find out when he first starting getting into the illustration industry was how few artists present their artwork as complete images that are totally ready for print. Even simple things such as using the correct color settings and scanning/saving your work to be the correct file format will go a long way towards making a good impression on your employer and greatly increase your chances of getting more work in the future.
Chris Roberts was just the latest artist to visit the Helene Center, and if you are interested in learning from people who have professional experience in the field of art, then you should be sure to visit the talks if you have the opportunity. If you are interested in learning more about Roberts or his art, you can visit his website at deadclownart.com.