Meet the 2018 Featured Art Artist

This year’s featured art is by Christopher Smith. Read our interview with Chris to learn more about the artist and work behind the 2018 featured art piece.

2018 Featured Art by Chris Smith

Tell us about yourself, your artistic background/career, where you are from, and where you live now.

I first studied Commercial Art at Austin Community College (ACC) from 1989-1991, there I had taken several drawing classes from the great Sam Yeates. I’m sure you know he was one of the Armadillo World Headquarter poster artists back in the 70s. Then 1992-1995 studied Visual Communications at Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) and earned a BFA in Commercial Art. I’m so glad I studied at ACC first, because I perfected my illustrative drawing/technical hand skills there. SWT helped me strengthen conceptual ideas/design, so I could combine the two.

My first job out of college was working for the University of Dallas in Irving as a Graphic Designer for the University Relations Dept, a good 2 year stint. Afterwards 15 years of Graphic Design in Austin at Frog Design as an Interface Designer, 10 years working for Harcourt, a book publisher here in Austin creating cover designs for K-12 textbooks. Started creating my maps as a side business in 2007, was laid off in 2009, been creating my maps full time since then.

I had a fun childhood in Anderson Mill in NW Austin during the 1970s and 1980s. I went to Anderson Mill “Armadillos”, elementary school, Westwood HS, and Georgetown HS my Senior year. Have been living in Liberty Hill, Texas now for 3 years.

Map Art by Chris Smith

 

What was your favorite part to create in the featured art piece?

Creating the armadillo illustration, giving it an illustrative pen & ink look with the numbers 709 hidden.

Was there a challenging part to create?

The armadillo was the most challenging, trying to recreate an icon for the ‘Dillo that is “fresh” or has a new look from any previous ‘dillo designs.

Tell us about your history with the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.

I did my first Armadillo Bazaar in 2010, when the Armadillo first moved locations to Palmer Events Center.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art.

In 2007 I sold my first print of my Republic of Texas map for $45 at a little Christmas show we had at Harcourt. Employees were able to set up and sell their goods at work for one day. I sold my first original map at Bayou City Arts Festival in 2008.

Map Art by Chris Smith

What are your favorite art supplies or tools?

I’ve been using Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph technical pens since my ACC days (over 27 years). Now I’m becoming more comfortable with acrylic paints with brush applications too, combining the two mediums more and more. Over the years I’ve been using more paint with brush and less technical pen.

If you were to work in any other medium, what would it be?

Definitely printmaking, I took one printmaking class at SWT and loved it, I could see experimenting with printmaking or combining it with the illustrative map idea. There are so many different types of printmaking, I just dabbled in it that one year.

How did you get started creating maps?

It started as an idea with several sketches back in 1998. Originally as a game board idea, like a “Texas Risk”. My first map was the Republic of Texas 1838 map; the other maps spawned from this.

Map Art by Chris Smith

Name your five favorite songs, albums, or musicians.

I love surf rock, garage rock, classic rock. Been listening to new Millennial bands such as Ty Segall, Mac Demarco, The Growlers, The Oh Sees, they are relatively new bands, but have the sound from the 60s-70s of course with a fresh perspective. Always been a huge Frank Black (Black Francis) fan, singer for the Pixies. He has a lot of solo albums after the Pixies. I’m always looking for new music for inspiration while creating artwork.

Is there any wisdom you would like to pass on to emerging artists?

I’m not good at giving advice, I never give it unless asked. Focus on one subject matter, and recreate it with a unique perspective. “​Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.​”​ Conan O’B​rien