Thalo loves to promote artists and each month we spotlight a member of our community!
This month we are pleased to have Christopher Gendron as the thalo Spotlight Artist for November. Christopher was a featured Higgins Ink Drawing Team member for October's Inktober Art Challenge!
Thalo Team: Can you give an "elevator pitch" of your work?
Christopher Gendron: For the most part my work is cosmic, mystical, and sometimes dark art. Primarily I paint what look like they are found pages from a ritualistic book from a lost culture, possibly from another space, time, or dimension.
TT: What is your artwork about and what do you want people to take from it?
CG: Primarily, my work is focused on an ongoing series I call the Book of Gosh. Each piece is a page that came from the book, from temples, or from the history and culture that is its history. It’s a randomly found, living history of another culture from another dimension. Sometimes the pages or art are somewhat obvious in their intent and sometimes they are mysterious and cryptic. The viewer will bring their own life and experience to the piece when they view it. As with all art, ,this process is how it becomes personal.
TT: Which artists do you feel have influenced your art the most?
CG: Major influences for me were Dali and Giger. But there was so much other influence that also rides alongside them…..there were the album covers of the seventies and eighties such as Kiss, Queen, and The Eagles...there were movie posters such as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there were shows like the Banana Splits...the list of influence goes on and on...everything you experience, every part of your day, waking or dreaming, it all comes to the surface as an artist. It’s all there.
TT: Do you have a preferred method of presentation for your artwork and why? (Examples: workshops, gallery shows, Instagram, etc.)
CG: I mostly just like to paint my pieces in my studio. After that….they turn into prints at conventions or are online as prints for sale that I kiss and wrap up and ship to you when you buy one. Honestly, I love doing shows like the recent Monster Arts Project IV because you get to see the original artwork in an appropriate frame and in the proper environment. But, alas, getting to show original pieces in the world that I would like is not always what happens. When it doesn’t, I show framed pieces at shows (conventions) or show off good photos of the framed works in my online store and on social media.
In my opinion, the best presentation is anything where I can be present while the work is being shown live. People generally have questions about the work and I really like to be there to answer those questions. Sometimes it’s about which paints I used, and sometimes it’s about what the image is about or what the story might be behind the piece. No matter what, I like being there to answer the questions and get closer to the viewer. I want them to know what’s going on behind the scenes. I want them to know where the final image is coming from. I feel it’s important to interact with your viewers when they have questions. I feel it brings us closer together and that’s important to me.
TT: Out of all of your creations (or bodies of work) which one did/do you find the most cathartic in creating?
CG: I feel like the birth of the entire series of the Book of Gosh series has been the most impactful for me. This has proven to be a continual body of work and one I feel I’ll continue to create content for until I’m not able to function. It started, as many things do, as a quick series of sketches, but has become an entire series and I’m sure will become a book at some point. I don’t feel it will ever be a finished project, but that’s part of what I love about it. It has a life that is endless. We can add pages and continue the story for as long as we can create. That is really exciting to me...that is so much creative power...that is something I think about...what will I leave behind?
TT: When was your “Aha!” moment that led your work to where it is now?
CG: My style of art has very consistently changed throughout my life. This has made it difficult for me to focus on building a portfolio or falling into a niche or clique. I went from pen and ink to painting in oils and copying Caravaggio paintings while spinning the styles into my own. For several years now I’ve mostly focused on these Pages From the Book of Gosh...pages, paintings, illustrations, that could possibly be pages torn from a book of spells or how to lead rituals or magic, all pages from a book from another culture from another dimension. Ultimately, it was about creative freedom. Painting pages from a book that doesn’t exist based on a culture that doesn’t exist gives me the freedom to paint whatever I want and the explanation can remain partially open to interpretation.
TT: How has your work (or technique) changed over time?
CG: Since I’ve become comfortable with the Book of Gosh style of work it’s been an easier path for me. I still don’t know if it’s the final path but it’s at least a style I can focus on for the present. As I mentioned, my background has been very random and I feel that it should be that way for all artists. Just because you are trained to be an oil painter or pastel artist doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try other media. I’ve tried so many other media and learned so many things that I’ve been able to bring into my current work. Trying other media is a huge inspiration in learning where you want to go next. Always try other media...it will always help you with whatever you end up doing down the road.
TT: How do you promote yourself and your art?
CG: I promote myself primarily by vending at conventions...mostly horror conventions or conventions related to heavy metal. I’m still working on ways to get my art in front of people in the world so I do use social media and try to post often and follow trends that might help, but ultimately I do local conventions and try to establish good relationships with the people that I meet. I know that ultimately, relationship is key and I really appreciate all of the people that come out to the shows and conventions and stop by and say hello and tell me they own some of my work and are looking to see what’s new. That really means a lot to me and I know that without people like that I wouldn’t be where I am right now and it really hits me hard knowing that these people like my art enough that they want it hanging in their homes. That’s a huge deal to me...it really means a lot. They could have anything hanging in their homes but they choose my art...that’s so wonderful to me and I feel so lucky and grateful. It’s a wonderful feeling.
TT: Do you have any tips or advice for fellow artists based off of your experiences thus far?
CG: Phew...that’s a huge question...we all come from so many places...follow what you love, always remember what it is you really want to do, no matter the time or place in your life. Yes, you’ll catch yourself checking in and may not be where you wanted to be...that’s ok, and it’s quite normal. So...take another look and reevaluate. Keep in mind, you’re only here for a little bit. It’s a dark reminder but it’s real. What do you want to leave behind? How do you want to be remembered? Those are the questions.
TT: What are you working on right now and why?
CG: I’m working on more Book of Gosh content and also...I think, another oracle deck...this next one may be based on the Lenormand deck, but I don’t know for sure. I may just do my own or just turn it into prints of cards I’d love to see in a deck that hasn’t been built yet. But mostly, it’s more pages from the Book of Gosh. I also have a few commissions in the queue that I need to get started on now that InkTober is done.
TT: What would you consider to be your "biggest achievement" with your work thus far?
CG: Honestly, any time I sell a print I get excited, but when I sell an original piece it’s super exciting to me and makes me feel really good. The Prophecy deck that I created was a big deal to me. It was a lot of work but I’m really happy with how they came out. I’d like to find a publisher to get them distributed on a larger scale so that’s something I’ll continue looking into. Anyway, the Prophecy cards were a big achievement for me.
TT: What was your first work of art that you were proud of? Where is it now?
CG: This question is too hard...I’ve been proud of my art since I was a child. It’s probably gone now, but I know my dad saved some of my stuff from my childhood and we’re pulling that stuff from storage soon so I’m looking forward to seeing what remains.
TT: Do you take commissions? Why or why not?
CG: I do take commissions, but it depends on what it is. I went for a long time where I didn’t do commissions because I didn’t just want to do ‘anything for anyone’...I wanted to be commissioned for a certain style, but I didn’t have that style established yet. Now, I do have that style established. I will sit and paint bizarre rituals and exchanges, transformations, reconstructions, etc...now I’m here to create that and I’m comfortable creating it. You know what you’re getting. I’m pulling from other dimensions and I’m opening onto the page.
TT: What do you do when you aren't working on artwork (hobbies, job, etc.)?
CG: I mostly work on artwork, watch weird movies or listen to crazy podcasts and audiobooks...but I do love spending time with my wonderful partner Katherine. She’s very understanding of my needing time to create but we still share time hiking, watching movies, chatting and being out in the world and living life together. She’s really wonderful and supports me 100%. I’m really lucky to have her in my life supporting me the way that she does.
TT: What is an area in your work that you feel weak in that you want to improve upon and how are you going to get there?
CG: I’d love to get better at perspective and poses of human bodies. I love doing anatomy drawings but I always get sucked into drawing the outer shape of the body and then melting everything...it’s just what I love to do when I draw. I don’t feel the need to copy the model, but I do feel the need to base my drawing on the model but to melt and shape the lines into something else that could be more interesting. If I wanted a photographic portrait I’d take a picture.
TT: How do you overcome art blocks?
CG: I’ve actually never had art blocks...but I’ve needed inspiration for projects and I’ve always looked to other artists online that were doing similar work to what I was thinking of. And occasionally I’d also look for the complete opposite. Sometimes finding work that's the opposite of what you’re trying to create is exactly what you need.
TT: Where do you see your work taking you in the next 5-10 years?
CG: I’d like to get a book published with a collection of the Book of Gosh pages. I’d also like to do an expansion of my current Prophecy Deck of cards in addition to another deck of cards. I’m not sure if the second set will be based on the Lenormand set or will just be my own, but they are things I’m thinking about and already doing sketches of. So far I’m leaning in my own direction, but we’ll see.
TT: Is there something that you would like to share with us that we have not covered, that pertains to you and your work?
CG: I feel I’ve covered most things. If you like my work please support me on social media by following me or contributing to any projects I put into the world. Any projects I put out in front of you are projects that I’ve put a lot of work and love into and I wouldn’t ask for backing otherwise.
TT: If you have links for your website, Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, etc. that you would like to share, please include these addresses below.
CG: If you want to chase me around online I’m here and there. And if you ever have questions about anything regarding my work please feel free to contact me via social media at the links below.
Prophecy Cards: http://prophecycards.com/