Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Williford.
Chris, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started making art mostly as an illustrator. As a kid in Texas, I used to sit in front of the TV and draw SpongeBob Squarepants over and over again, eventually memorizing how. That got me excited about drawing, which I focused on through high school. I had an amazing teacher Tamera Westervelt who pushed me to go to college for fine art and am so thankful for her guiding me through a lot of really negative things happening around me. Some of my most cathartic high school memories were spent working all night to finish assignments for her class, where traditional drawing was emphasized. Though it’s less visible in my practice now, I’m glad I spent the time learning how to draw — now, I approach prints, clothing, and installations as drawings too.
Has it been a smooth road?
No joke, graduate school was tough. I moved to Chicago in 2016 from Dallas, not really knowing how much I would sacrifice to do well there. A month later, I started my two-year MFA program at SAIC and had left some very close friends in Texas behind. It was hard to do, but I think they always knew I needed to go. To thank them, I immortalized them as vampires in my thesis exhibition entitled “FANG PARLOUR”, which was essentially a place for us to all to reunite and hang out, if/when we become glamorous monsters.
Your life kind of revolves around graduate school for those two years and my support network has always gotten me through rough times. It’s a challenge to be taken seriously as an artist, to be successful (whatever that means), to pay your bills and studio rent… but we do it because we love it, we can’t sleep without it, and all have a deeply emotional connection to making it. Still, though, artists give a lot of themselves away for very little in return, and I think that needs to change.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Chris Williford story.
In my art, I deal with ideas of glamour through drawing, printmaking, and design. A constant influence (idol) of my life is Andy Warhol, someone who made his life into a work of art. Of course, he says it’s all on the surface, but there’s a lot of psychological complexity to his work that many people undermine, mostly because of his queerness or his lack of verbal communication skills.
The images I make talk about fashion and youth culture and are often layered or patterned. I require a sense of fullness from my work, something that is colorful, psychedelic, sometimes, dark. Like Andy, I use the process of silk screening to bring characters and situations into the world. I consider my practice of art-making like filming a movie about my life — just a more melodramatic, glamorous version of it.
- Website: www.chriswilliford.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @cwilli
“FANG PARLOUR”, April 27 – May 16, 2018, at Sullivan Galleries, Geof Teague, Sullivan Galleries