Artist Spotlight: Chris Konecki
By. Jed Sanders
One great thing about San Diego is that when you thought youâ€™ve seen it all, you discover a fresh new talent that just leaves you in awe. We were very excited to speak with Chris Konecki, an artist whose work graces the cover of NUG Magazine this month.
Chrisâ€™ work is a serious breath of fresh air with the variety of styles, textures, and colors he uses. His artwork demonstrates an incredible skill and technique that compels you to look for the deeper meaning that each piece holds.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind each day when you wake up?
Coffee, coffee, coffee. Then, I read the paper and think about what a mess this world is.
What are your best memories of growing up in San Diego?
I was blessed to grow up in San Diego and have great parents that exposed me to a variety of things and always told me I could do whatever I set my mind to. As a kid, I was into typical kid things. I loved to surf, watch cartoons, read comics, doodle all over my homework assignments, and generally cause trouble.
What do you do for fun?
I paint. And I really have fun doing it. Ever since I was a kid, I have had an overactive imagination (and maybe some A.D.D.) and was able to entertain myself for hours by creating. Donâ€™t get me wrong, I love other people, but Iâ€™m cool being alone in my head.
Any artists that you admire?
I think these guys are killing it right now: Dave Kinsey, David Ellis, Conor Harrington, JR is rad, I love BLU, and Barry McGee. Other influences include Jean Michel Basquiat, Klimt, and Dali.
Have you attended any kind of art school or are you self-taught?
I was painting in high school art class when my teacher leaned over my shoulder and said, â€œIt needs more blue right there.â€ And I thought, â€œWho are you to tell me where blue goes and why?â€ Iâ€™ve always followed a D.I.Y. philosophy and pretty much figured it out as I went. I never saw the point of art school. It seems like a lot of money to learn how to talk about art. My problem is that the emphasis seems to be on the card that describes the artwork as opposed to the work itself. Read Tom Wolfeâ€™s The Painted Word for more explanation.
What mediums do you enjoy painting with?
I experiment with anything I can get my hands on, but I paint with acrylic and use a bunch of spray paint. Iâ€™m not really a street artist, but once I got my hands on aerosol cans, I got hooked. There is something so immediate and gratifying. Plus, I use a lot of layers and acrylics, and aerosol dries quickly.
What artwork are you currently working on right now?
Iâ€™ve been stuck on painting people with trees growing out of their necks. Iâ€™ve been wrestling with the conflict of man vs. nature, so painting natural forms in an unnatural manor is my way of coping with the silliness of it all. The trees symbolize human thought processes and decisions that result in different destinations. This is my way of summing up life: people receive stimuli, make decisions, and live with those consequences. One can think of the little stencil birds as all the possible results of following the different branches of the tree.
I saw a video of your trip from San Diego to Paris â€œSacre Coeurâ€ on Youtube. Very impressive film! What inspired you to mix your painting and video like this?
Well, I didnâ€™t go to art school, but I went to film school. The videos I make are not only a time-lapse record of events, but they add a narrative to the work while giving the audience a peek into the creative process. I think the genres complement each other well. Have you ever seen a painting and wondered what prompted the artist to paint it? Creating the videos really helps answer that question.
Do you have any other interesting stories about your Paris trip?
Yeah. When we were in Paris, we found out the museums are free for unemployed French. So, we doctored some fake unemployment papers and were able to see all the great collections of Paris for free. It was funny because I look so typically American with my big white teeth and poor French accent. When they asked for I.D., I would show them my expired California Drivers License â€“ somehow it worked!
Do you think art criticism is important? How much input from others do you take into consideration with your own work?
I think itâ€™s extremely important for an artistâ€™s development to hear all the criticism, but to only listen to other artists. I mean, I donâ€™t tell a chef how to cook or a mechanic how to fix my car.
Can you describe your process of making the art that went on this monthâ€™s cover of NUG Magazine?
I love NUG Mag and was so stoked when they asked me to do the cover. I wanted to blow peopleâ€™s minds when they pick up the magazine and again when they watch the video. The concept was to tell a silly love story that takes place all over the city. The birds are actually made out of wood. Iâ€™m sure I looked like a freak walking around with a backpack full of wooden birds and a camera stuck to my face, but Iâ€™ve seen weirder. Thanks again to the NUG team for all their support.
How did you get involved in creating the artwork for Subliminal Tripâ€™s debut album?
I actually grew up with Joel Brust (lead guitar) on the mean streets of Tierrasanta. We met in first grade and were such little hellions that the teachers put a note on our permanent records and we were never allowed in the same class again. Years later, he started playing with Subliminal Trip and I was stoked when they asked me to do the album art.
Was the idea for the painting yours or was it a combined effort and/or commission from the band?
I think the band made the right call to get away from the typical palm trees and surf art of Cali reggae. I liked working with Sub Trip because they let me go as far as I wanted to with the idea. Because they allowed me so much freedom, I knew I would have to perform to match their level of music. It was a real pleasure collaborating with the band and I think they were stoked on the outcome.
Thank you so much for the interview! We look forward to seeing more of your art in the future!
Be sure to check out Chrisâ€™ website at www.christopherkonecki.com where you can view his portfolio of art (great prices!), murals, and photography.
And be sure to check out nugmag.com for the video of the making of this monthâ€™s cover.