Today we chat to Chris Valentine about his passion for music and how that inspired him to become an illustrator.
Who is Chris Valentine and what do you do?
Chris Valentine was the geeky kid at school until he started playing guitar! Thank goodness for music. In fact, if it wasn’t for my love of music,I don’t think I would’ve gotten into illustration at all. It all started when I first saw the cover art for In Flames’ album, Come Clarity, by Derek Hess & the artwork for The Used’s album, Lies for the Liars, by Alex Pardee. To say they blew my mind would be an understatement. I started researching these guys and found out that they drew for a living (epic) and had regular exhibitions, selling their prints, toys and even books of their art. That sounded like the dream job for me, and it’s still my goal to this day. I did a gap year at Rivers Church straight after matric, doing center screen designs and even an album cover with their creative department, before starting full-time freelancing in April 2010. I started off doing a lot of graphic design work (logos, business cards, flyers), but I always wanted to do album covers, book covers, concept art, personal work etc. Eventually the opportunities started presenting themselves and I started getting more and more work doing what I love doing. So right now I’m working on jobs for agencies, album covers, book covers, commissions… Pretty much anything that involves drawing and painting cool things. Its super exciting, but I’ve still got so much to learn and so many things I still want to do!
How would you define your style or art?
Ever-changing, hopefully. When I first started developing my Pencil/splattery ink style, I was pretty sure that was going to be my style forever. I loved doing it & it seemed to appeal to the kind of clients I was after. However, after chatting to numerous role models and inspiring artists, I decided to start experimenting with digital painting and other mediums which would challenge me. That was definitely an important step to take. Painting in oils and drawing with charcoal really helped me out of my comfort zone, which makes life a lot more exciting! In general, though, I think the portraiture is definitely a constant in my art. There’s just something about the human face that is incredibly fun to draw and paint, not to mention the challenge involved in getting a likeness right. I’d also like to think that my work is quite realistic, as it’s definitely one of my goals!
What inspires your work?
One of my biggest inspirations would have to be my Seattle Coffee visits. There’s just something magical about the combination of Seattle Coffee and Exclusive Books. I’ve always been a bit of a book worm, but the discovery of Computer Arts & ImagineFX magazines was huge for me. I’m also very inspired by comic books & movies; especially sci-fi/fantasy.
What are you currently working on?
Right now I’m working on my third book cover for M.E.Patterson, a brilliant author and friend, from Austin, Texas. This one is for the first book in his new space opera series, so I’m getting to paint spaceships and sci-fi characters. It’s every geek’s dream. I’ve also got some album artwork coming up soon, and hopefully one or two jobs for big clients! Holding thumbs.
What has been your most exciting design that you’ve created?
So far, I would have to say the work I did for Bridgestone in 2012. They asked me to paint 4 giant canvases for them using rollers made out of Bridgestone tyre tread. The whole process was filmed and the paintings became the print advertising for their new campaign. You can see all of it at http://www.treadsmartly.tv
What advice would you give young creatives looking to do what you do?
Dream big and don’t be scared to take risks to get there. Send your work to prominent creatives and put it out there for the public to see. You might not get a response, or you may get constructive criticism; either way, you’ve lost nothing! In addition, always remember that someone helped you to get to where you are. By all means take credit for your hard work, but it helps to keep your ego in check knowing that somebody helped you learn what you know today. Always be open to learning. Oh, and don’t ever do work for free. I did a lot of that when I started out, and it was great practice for me, but sometimes people will take you for a ride. If they believe in your work and your ability, they’ll be happy to pay for it. This is a bible verse that I try to live by, and it’s just as relevant if you’re not a Christian “Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.” 1 Peter 4:10
Where can our readers follow your work?
Twitter : @christhecook