J. Christopher Schmidt [artisticschmidt]
What do you do? How do you define yourself as an artist?
I have a degree in Illustration, however I am also a graphic designer, toy designer, concept artist and comic artist. I define myself as an artist by continuing to grow and gaining new skills as well as building onto my current strengths.
What is your message?
If I had to choose a specific message it would be to combine creative and sound artwork with a story or funny message. I believe that having a sense of humor sets us apart from all other creatures on Earth.
Your biography in four lines.
I graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design with a degree in Illustration. I have been a professional artist for the past 8.5 years. At my most recent job I designed plush and toys for Sea World, Disney, National Geographic , Borders, etc. Comic Books and modern digital illustration have helped define the artist I am today.
Do you upload your work to the web? If so, where could we see it?
Yes, I post on several websites. My personal portfolio website can be seen at www.artisticschmidt.net.
How is an idea born? For you, what is inspiration?
For me, an idea can be born out of in-depth research, simply looking at the world around you or perhaps even a whim. Anything can cause this spark of inspiration. I am inspired by nature, others artwork, my wife and family, video games, comic books, movies, etc. You never know where your next idea will stem from and that is part of the fun.
What role does technology play in your creative process?
It plays a big part. I believe that in this age you have to work with technology and keep up with the times to get where you want to be as an artist. Technology is just another tool in the process. Learning from the past and gaining from the present will help keep you up to speed in todays fast-paced art scene.
What is art?
Simply, art is a creation designed with a message. It is anything that someone was inspired and driven to create. There is thought and creativity behind it. It can have no other purpose than to be viewed in a gallery or a deep meaning or usefulness.
When do you get your best ideas?
Often times my best and most unique ideas come as I'm falling asleep or just waking up. I also find that in the middle of making art your mind seems to wander and bring new ideas to life.
How do you evaluate whether an idea is good or not?
This is determined through sketches or preliminary artwork stages. If the idea is worthy then you will continue to be inspired and want to see it through.
Three creative ideas that you would have liked to have created?
That would have to be: 1) Animation 2) Comic Books 3) Modern computer programs
To be involved in any of these creative ideas would be the highlight of any life.
When and how did you begin to see yourself as an artist?
From a very young age I knew that I would pursue art as not only a career but a life endeavor. I believe I started taking it very seriously just before High School began.
Why do so many artists and creators have such volatile personalities?
I think that with creativity and drive comes a certain amount of vision. Some people let that vision take control of their lives and have a hard time seeing beyond it. Self confidence is also a big part of being a successful artist. I suppose that when you spend so much of your time focusing on something and seeing it vividly in your own mind you could easily become or be mistaken for being a bit arrogant.
Do you consider yourself postmodern?
In many ways I believe that I am a postmodernist. I use what has been done in the past as a loose guide but do not let that define me as an artist. As far as creation of my artwork, I tend to do what feels right and experiment as I go. The mediums I use are not pushing any boundaries but I like to think my thought process and execution does.
How should a work of art be evaluated?
I evaluate art first on feeling. Do I like it or not? Either way, this does not determine if it is a good or bad piece of art. Then, I look for the skill involved. Is it simple or detailed? How does this help to get across what the artist wanted to say? Obviously color has a certain amount of influence. If the colors are muddy, did the artist intend this or is it a lack of paint-mixing skill? It all comes down to personal taste. However, I like to think that people would think about why a piece was created and what makes it good or bad [in their opinion] before passing judgment.
Must an artist reinvent him/herself everyday?
In a sense, it is necessary. With every new day comes new obstacles. I think that "reinventing oneself" is a constant reevaluation of your personal goals and your approach to the execution of artwork. Reminding oneself why they do what they do and Reasserting their goals each time a new piece of art is begun (or as often as possible) is necessary. Learn from what you are doing and get better. Learn from your mistakes. This is the struggle of an artist.
Which artists do you admire and how do they influence your work?
Of course, I admire many artists. To name a few: Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, Dave Mckean, Bill Sienkiewicz, Michelangelo, Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave, etc. I believe that art and music can be just as influential. Each artist inspires me in a certain way and motivates me to keep creating.
What do you think about public funding for the arts?
I think it is great! I hope that art funding continues to grow and the need for artists never ceases.
Is art necessary?
Yes. Art, creativity and invention is what makes us what we are. Without it we would be a stagnant, boring species.
Does it pain you to let go of a piece you have sold?
I do not often sell originals because many I do have an attachment to. However, Some pieces I have no problem selling. It is all related to each piece, the subject matter and how much I feel compelled to hold onto that original.
Is a work of art purchased, or is it better said, that it is the artist who is bought?
I believe that each piece is a part of the artist who created it. However, one piece does not define an artist, nor does it make him/her "bought". Perhaps if an artist made only one piece of artwork that took his/her whole life, that would be considered "buying an artist".
In art, there is no guide. How do you know what the next step is?
There is no predetermined next step. You must keep striving and looking for answers. However, there is not only one answer. Being an artist is a journey that never ends. This is the blessing and curse of being an artist.
How do you feel about the fact that the pieces exhibited in contemporary art museums are often of artists already deceased?
I feel that history plays a big role in who we are as a people and what direction art must go. There is a certain amount of honor involved in art. The past must be honored and therefore past artists are respected. Whether they are deceased or not is secondary.
What role have the figures of art dealer, gallery owners, representatives, and intermediaries in general played in your career?
I have displayed art in public arenas but art dealers,etc have played a small role in my art career as a whole. Recently, I have spoken with a gallery owner who was interested in displaying my artwork. This is a side-note for me, something I have wanted to do on a steady basis but not a big influence on what art I will create in the future.
What types of jobs do you usually do?
Most of the work I do is digital. However, If somebody wants an original drawing or painting I will still consider it. I am most comfortable creating computer generated artwork. This could be anything from scanned drawings to logo design in Adobe Illustrator.
Which of your jobs or tasks do you most enjoy?
I enjoy projects where I can be most creative. Something that the client doesn't have a specific look in mind and wants me to come up with it on my own. I love to draw and anything related to that and letting my mind run free is what I enjoy most.
Do you personally collect any items?
I collect graphic novels, books and comic books. I am always reading and filling my head with new ideas and concepts.
Which websites do you frequently visit?
What advice would you give to those just beginning?
Be committed to growing and getting better. Be open to others opinions. Network constantly. Determine what you do the best and how you can make that a career. Be determined and stay the course.
J. Christopher Schmidt
Brunswick, OH, USA