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Conversations with Chrilz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chrilz . 

Hi Chrilz, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
I felt the call to become an artist professionally at the end of my second year of undergraduate studies. While I drew a lot as a child, it was all very rudimentary, inspired by the video games that fueled my imagination. I actually wanted to make video games during those early years—I created characters, designed levels, and developed stories for the my little worlds. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I took an art class that had me draw a realistic self-portrait in graphite, that sparked this journey. At first, I was reluctant to believe it was a skill I had—for a long time, I attributed the success of that portrait to luck. Despite continuing to draw realism thereafter, simply chalking up the success of each subsequent portrait to happenstance was a continuous struggle. But the drive to keep producing only seemed to grow nonetheless. When I started college, I originally began in the theater department to pursue acting, but I was unsure and being pulled in several directions since I had deep passion for several different things. It took discernment and time—again, two full years’ worth—before this drive to pursue visual art overcame me, and I found it to be resonating within the center of my person. What followed was what I can only best describe as a honeymoon phase—so many qualities of my character, personality, ideas, inspiration seemed to finally make sense. It was almost as if I was discovering who I truly was for the first time, and it was an extraordinary experience. Despite the hardships and challenges that have arisen over the years, the fire I feel within me for this journey still burns and brighter than ever. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It has, and continues to be, a very bumpy road, but I think that’s natural for a career in a field as turbulent as contemporary art. I made the decision to leave school without completing a degree because my unconventional course selection left me in a position of either acquiring debt once my scholarship depleted or simply begin producing work. That was a decision I didn’t make lightly, again trying to carefully discern what was the best course of action. When I did choose the latter, it was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. On one hand, anything was possible, and I could fully begin diving into my practice. Yet on the other, the real-life hurdles associated with a feast-or-famine career were very difficult to navigate right from the start. This hasn’t changed much over the years, though I think it’s true for any commitment we make in life: the challenges can make us stronger if we stay the course, and there is always a reason to be grateful. I’ve often remarked to those closest to me that the hardest days with my work are still some of the best days of my life. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a contemporary, figurative artist working primarily in colored pencil alongside graphite. My work is a dance between the emotional and conceptual, utilizing the human form as a vessel of expression and focused on human nature. I feel tasked with communicating the deepest and most intimate parts of our lived experience—the gentle threads we feel within our hearts, the most granular emotions we experience, the bevy of unique qualities inherent to our unique and individual narratives. Each piece is composed with rigorous intentionalism in order to draw each viewer into a unique experience that communicates the ideas and emotions at play. I have been told that my work is very nuanced and layered, and in acknowledgment of this, I do a great deal of writing in order to facilitate and enhance the experience each individual has viewing any particular piece. Authenticity is a major part of my process, and I try to constantly stay honest with myself to produce the work that is genuine and truly asking to be made from within me. The greatest gift for me is beholding the finished work and recognizing that it was produced as authentically as possible, carrying through all of the choices and layers from beginning to end. Though I’m unmarried and have no children, the only comparison I could ever think to make is how a parent must feel holding a child for the very first time. The work is mine but seems to carry its own life once completed, and I am filled with such joy to behold what was first felt inside of me. When that piece is experienced and shared with others, it only adds to that excitement. 

What was your favorite childhood memory?
Less so a childhood memory, but in my early teenage years, I started having strange visions of the person I hoped to become. At the time, being a visual artist wasn’t something I was considering—this was still prior to the aforementioned art class during high school. Even so, I weirdly recall seeing myself as an artist, not fully understanding how or why, but ultimately finding much excitement in the thought of the artistic individual that I felt was awaiting me. Again, years would transpire before this would fully materialize while I was in college, but this inclination that manifested was intriguing and still is upon reflection. Perhaps my younger self was given glimpses of the present work I’m producing in a veiled sense, but ultimately when I reflect on this is brings me joy to recognize that the unique journey I’ve been given in this life seems to have been written within my heart long before I would fully comprehend it. 

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Image Credits

Jeff Cancelosi

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