Exclusive Interview with Cris X: Creating Custom Art Radiating with Life
Imaginative, innovative, dedicated, persistent—those are just a few of the adjectives you could use to describe artist Cris X.
These qualities are on display throughout his eclectic and unforgettable body of work. His creations range from vibrant, candy-colored sea-life sculptures to original paintings on aluminum to his incredible “Sculpture Abstraction” series. He’s even been invited to become an officially licensed Disney Fine Artist.
What’s really special about Cris X is how his craftsmanship shines through in every work he creates. For example, the flawless finish on his fiberglass sculptures is achieved by nearly endless rounds of sanding and priming which only lay the groundwork for the 30 to 40 layers of colors and clear coating he applies. (Yes, you read that right—30 to 40 layers!)
We were fortunate to recently sit down with Cris X and ask him some questions about his creative process and his electrifying career. Enjoy!
1). When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist?
Fairly late in life for a career artist. I was working on building a career as an automotive artist doing custom paint jobs on motorcycles and cars. Then I had the opportunity to display in my first major gallery. When my first piece sold within an hour of being hung, I knew that was it! I knew that shift in my career to fine art was what I wanted to do. So I took a leap of faith, focused on the fine art, and never looked back.
2). What inspires your art?
My collectors inspire me the most. When I get back to my studio after a show, I am so inspired to start creating again because I feel so fortunate to have collectors embrace my work and add it to their art collections! As for the subject matter, I look for things that would translate into a painting well with the materials I work with. That broad range of subjects and different mediums always keeps things exciting in the studio.
3). Which artists have played a role in influencing your style?
While he may not have influenced my style, Michael Godard definitely influenced my career as an artist. Before I was in any galleries, I got a job with a gallery carrying and moving art for them. Godard was one of those artists.
Seven years later, I was hanging in galleries with him and had the privilege of painting a collaboration with him and sold it at a show together. Then, this year, I was able to catch up with him at a Park West auction that we were both booked at!
4). Your “aluminations” on metal are truly something spectacular! Can you give a brief overview of your process and the steps you take to create such vibrant works?
My “alumination” collection starts with a raw sheet of aircraft aluminum which is ground by hand to get that 3-D, reflective quality. From there, I apply transparent candy colors to tint the metal while enhancing the reflections. Then, I add my subject matter and work with both an airbrush and fine hand brushes to get those small details.
5). You’ve found success creating one-of-a-kind sculptures. How did your work evolve to break into that medium?
My first collection was my 3-D marine life sculptures which I painted like custom cars and motorcycles. Those 3-D marine creations were my way to have that style of custom car art translate into a medium that could be embraced by fine art galleries.
6). Is there something specific that you haven’t painted/sculpted yet that is on the top of your list?
Yes! I want to create a public installation. It will be one of my 3-D marine life pieces, but I want it to be a 27-foot great white shark with a crazy colorful, sparkly, and shiny finish. I hope to have that done in the next five years.
7). What does a typical workday look like for you?
One of the reasons I enjoy being an artist is that there is never a typical workday! Especially with all the different collections I create, I get to work on something new every day. I actually have two studios—one is a separate building where I do all of what I call my “dirty work” (sanding, grinding, spraying paint, etc.).
Then I also have a studio set up in my house where all the hand-painted fine details are applied. So, when I am in creative productions mode, I bounce back and forth between the studios all day with my dogs following me everywhere. I create as much as I can until it’s time to jump on a plane and head to my next show.
8). What do you want collectors to take away from your art?
I want them to feel like they’re getting a piece of me as well as a sense of us creating something together. While my work is eye candy at first glimpse, I pour my life and emotions into my art. To be able to share that story with the people collecting that work is amazing.
That is the part where the artist and collector really do create something together. Together, we are sharing moments and creatively turning those moments into memories—all through a single work of art! It gives me chills talking about it.
9). What do you enjoy doing when you’re not painting?
I’m pretty simple and that’s reflected in my work. I enjoy the ocean, surfing, paddleboarding, being at the beach, and hot rods. (I’ve recently been rebuilding one with my son.) Mostly it’s just kids, dogs, the beach, and cars!
10). Do you have a favorite color?
It really depends on the day. I love all the colors, especially blending and fading them, but, some days, I get in the monochromatic mood and just use black and white.