Subsign Spotlight #003

with Chris Beetow

We at Subsign want to contribute to the global creative community, thus the Subsign Spotlight initiative was born. We will bring you interviews and shine the light on a person (or collective) who has shown creativity and courage via their work.

This week we talk with a book and advertising illustrator, but that is not what caught our eye. For the past years she has been making special pet portraits:

“It is my goal to capture who your pet IS not just what they look like. What makes these pieces so important to my clients is that they visualize how they feel about their animal friends– and that is a pretty special thing.”

Here is the Subsign Spotlight of the animalier Chris Beetow:

Subsign: Let’s kick it off with the basics, who are you and what do you do?

Chris: I’m Chris Beetow and I’m an illustrator! Whoo hoo!

Subsign: What was your childhood like? Do you think your experiences from childhood have influenced your present creative endeavors?

Chris: My childhood was fantastic as I spent my days roaming about the forests, fields, and streams around my house. I was constantly muddy, grubby and discovering some wonderful thing in nature. I don’t have any photos of my childhood art, but here is one of my pony and me.

Subsign: Tell us about your creative process… What inspires you?

Chris: I love doing research as a part of my creative process, as an illustrator we have to know what we are talking about in our work, and getting reference and learning about whatever subject is put before me is a fun discovery. Below is a pic of my humble workstation.

Subsign: What motivated you in the beginning to become a maker and what keeps you going?

Chris: Making things was always just something I did and didn’t think much about, like a fish doesn’t think about swimming, it just swims. What keeps me going is knowing that the work I make makes people happy and that is a really cool and humbling experience when people connect with the work so strongly.

Subsign: How would you describe the style of your work?

Chris: My work is filled with humor and empathy. I’ve done the dark broody stuff, and yeah it was fine, had it’s place, but I’m at a point where I would rather have someone laugh when they see my work and then have the bigger message ease in after the giggles subside. I guess that means I like to be sneaky with the motives behind my work.

Subsign: Why did you choose it to represent you?

Chris: Life is too short to not have a laugh, so yeah, every day in the studio I laugh a lot.

Subsign: What is your favorite project you have done so far?

Chris: I’m really enjoying what I am doing right now. I’ve been mostly taking on private commissions where I translate stories people tell me about their pets into these whimsical portraits of their animals. What I love most about this is yes, I’m creating a cute portrait, but as an illustrator what I am really doing is illustrating how the owner feels about their animals and that is the connection that hooks me in as a maker. I get it. I get them. I totally have a window into their feelings and to translate that is what it is all about for me.

Subsign: Who do you admire as a visionary or artist?

Chris: I really am awed by the work of Sir Edwin Landseer, an English 19th century animalier. His work is technically stunning, but the stories he told, you can just see the empathy he had for his subjects through is work. His painting, “The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner” is one of my favorite paintings. It is just so honest and chokes me up just thinking about it. Everything in that work is there for a reason and so potent in storytelling.

Subsign: What advice could you give to someone starting out in the creative field of work?

Chris: Let your work be true to whom you are and find your “tribe”, the people who are your kindred spirits.

Subsign: If you had to pick what would you do: Shark diving, bungee jumping, or skydiving?

Chris: 100% sharks since I have worse luck with gravity, so yeah, I’m going with sharks.

Subsign: Can you recommend for our readers a book , a song and a movie?

Chris: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (book). A Coral Room by Kate Bush (song), and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (best movie ever made).

I would also like to add the video game Journey by That Game Company. Everything about that game is perfect poetry and will break your heart with “feels”.

Subsign: Finally, what did you wanted to be as a grown up?

Chris: 6 years old — forever.

If you know a creative that should be in the spotlight feel free to contact us at hello@subsign.co .

For more of Chris’s work you can follow her on the links bellow:

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