Q&A with Artist Chris Scott

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From fantastical demons to cyberpunk rock stars, Chris Scott is an artist whose images pulse with action. Chris infuses his work with dynamic lines and powerful characters whether he’s working on illustrations for clients, role-playing card game art, or visualizing the raddest concert ever in his recent art book Two Ton Rock God. It was great to get a chance to learn about his influences and his process.

Two Ton Rock God is an art book featuring gorgeous prints of cyborgs and robots wailing on their instruments in true rock n’ roll glory. What was your inspiration for this glamorous cyberpunk collection?

Well, all I did was sucker punch a lightning bolt and stuff it into a bottle. True story! LOL. Honestly, I had determined that I was at the point in my “convention career” where I needed to have a dedicated product of some sort. Only rule? It had to involve something I LOVED. A thing so singularly ME that you (the viewer) could take one look at and know instantly what I’m all about. Which narrowed it down to guitars and robots!

I love how powerful and dynamic the rock gods are, and I was thrilled to see a diverse range of characters getting to rock out. What is your process for creating such distinctive characters?

Honestly, I tried to plan a SUPER DREAM CONCERT that could never happen. I pictured all my favorite musicians, living or dead, and built from there. What would make a good image? What would be cool? How would [insert famous musician] look as a cyborg? THEN during each redesign more and more of THEIR actual personalities bled through. I’d wager 80% of Two Ton Rock God is my mind on cruise control. I hope that makes sense.

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I was also intrigued by the characters you designed for the role playing card game Dark Legacy. What was the process like to create art in collaboration with game designers?

A dream. There aren’t many bosses QUITE like Bryan Tillman (Owner of Kaiser Studio Productions). He gave me parameters, then turned me loose. As long as the guidelines are met, he encourages ridiculous, out there ideas. It doesn’t hurt that the environment was stellar, as well. Most of those characters were designed in Bryan’s basement alongside our peers and friends who are (feigns modesty) bigger art badasses than I am! But seriously, it was a blast.

Your illustration work runs from fantastical robots to poster designs, and you are able to convey your own visual style in each work. How did you develop your visual style and how do you maintain it when you are doing work that isn’t a personal passion project?

LOADED QUESTION! Jeez, I think the best way I’ve heard “style” explained to me is this: It’s how a particular artist breaks the rules. So I assure you, I’m just stumbling through everything like 70’s Clark Kent. But really, it’s a difficult thing to narrow down.  It’s a constant struggle/endeavor to dissect all the things you love and are influenced by. It demands that you be critical and parse out the things you love, the things that don’t work, and the things that are uniquely THAT artist. PLUS, you have to do this in a manner that appeals to your heart, your intended audience, whilst not outright copying. It can be daunting. However, that kinda gets pushed to the back of your mind when you’re Work-For-Hire. With that stuff, you NEED to be emotionally divorced from it. Your goal is to do professional work that serves two goals: accurately represents you as a professional and expresses what the client hired you to communicate.

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What part of your drawing and publishing processes do you enjoy the most? What part of your process do you find most challenging?

I’d have to say my favorite part of the process is at about 70% completion. Whether it’s a poster, cover, page, etc. Something happens after you’ve been hammering away at something for a while, waiting for that magical moment when something clicks…AND THEN IT DOES. It is joy without compare. By that point, you’ve done the legwork. The remaining path is laid out clearly. It’s the part that makes all the toiling worth it. The most challenging bit? STARTING THE PROJECT. It’s the worst. You have this blank canvas staring at you, and screaming at you for what you’re NOT doing. (In this case, LITERALLY, as my Adobe Suite is berating me for not updating.)

What artists have been important influences for you and your work?

WHOO BOY, where to start? The big 3 for me: Alan Davis, Katsuhiro Otomo, and JC Leyendecker. And then those branch out into more varied, focused areas of influence. But it ALWAYS comes back to those three. If I had to sum up why? The sheer amount of information they could communicate in single images. Be it panels or a cover. The picture has to tell a story. It’s a standard I work toward upholding with every piece I complete.

What is some of the best advice you have received as an artist?

Until you know what you’re drawing, you draw what you see and not what you know. And even when you know it? LOOK AT IT AGAIN.

What do you love to geek out about?

Discovering obscure back-catalog stuff from my favorite creators (music, comics, etc). I love most things about giant robots really. Heavy into Transformers (SHOUTOUT to IDW’s Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye. It’s the best book you’re not reading.). Also, perfecting my recipe for Cornbreaded Chicken Wings.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Two Ton Rock God 2 is dropping sometime Summer 2017. It will expand on the vague ideas I had in the art book by 1000%. I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Thank you SO much. This has been a blast!

Thank you, Chris!

For more information about Chris Scott and his work follow him on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram. In addition to releasing Two Ton Rock God 2 later this year, Chris plans to appear at AwesomeCon DC and Otakon DC, so get out there and see his stuff!

//Images courtesy of Chris Scott.  

Kate Gorman is editor of Art & Literature on Paper Droids. She is also the author of the speculative fiction novel ON THE ICE, the screenplay and creative how-to collection INT-EXT, and the locative fiction audio walk series GREENWAY QUARTET.