Chris Jones

Storytelling Studio Artist Chris Jones

Image of artist Chris Jones

Image courtesy of the artist.

My demo will consist of me drawing and developing a variety of short comics. It will be a way to see how I develop ideas and stories in a comic format while highlighting various aspects of building sequential visual narratives. During this process, visitors can expect to see me developing various aspects of the comic making process such as panel layout, character design, writing techniques, and overall page composition among others.

The Studio is all about storytelling, how does storytelling relate to your work/demo?

Storytelling is the heart and soul of my work. I believe comics are one of the most limitless and exciting ways to tell stories and share ideas. I am constantly trying to experiment with new ways of telling stories through comics (as well as other mediums, specifically photography) and I am always playing with new ways to communicate ideas. Stories can be told in very representational ways and very abstract ways, with words or without, with many visual elements or with very little. I hope to display a range of different approaches to storytelling through my comic demos, illustrations, prints, zines, and books to show how anything can be a story that can be told in any way, and also, how stories can mean something different to every individual that is experiencing them, from maker to viewer.

You often use a storyboard/comic style layout in your illustrations. What do you like best about this format?

I like so many things about storyboard/comic/panel layout and design. One of the things I like best is how the panels themselves can become part of the story and be an interactive element on the page. I also like the constraints that storyboard layouts provide. Some may find that a bit restrictive, but I’ve found that it helps me find ways of translating stories in a more intentional and meaningful way. I also just love playing with time and sequence within this format. As humans, we are always finding the patterns in things and we read comics and image-based stories in a linear format, almost filling in the gaps between each panel. So I think it’s really fun to play with how we read comics and how we can experience stories in different and unique ways.

How has your creative career changed over the years? What advice do you have for young creatives just starting out?

My creative career has evolved and shifted quite a bit over the years. I went to school for photography and graduated in 2014 from MSU Denver with a BFA. Now, eight years later, I am on the verge of opening a Risograph print studio in Fort Collins with a focus on printing small run, independent, creative work. I have worked in multiple museums (including DAM) in multiple capacities, most recently as the Museum Preparator at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery doing installation and fabrication work. I would say that most of the work I have done, from college until now, has provided some sort of knowledge that I still utilize within my creative practice.

I think there are so many things that are relevant to a creative practice that you find outside of the practice itself, and to be open to absorbing that knowledge and building on it is really important. I’ve also developed a consistent and continual personal art practice over the years. Maintaining a consistent personal practice has always been a really important aspect of staying active within the creative community and has led to some really cool opportunities for exhibiting work and learning many new skill sets I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I guess some advice I would have for young creatives starting out would be:

  • Make stuff as consistently as you are able to. Art, creativity, exploration, and experimentation all take practice, just like anything else. If you want to get better at something, you need to do it as often as you can. But also, take breaks. These breaks are moments that will provide you with inspiration, ideas, and renewed energy for your projects. And don’t be hard on yourself or give up if you are busy with other obligations like work, family, etc. Know that when you have time, you will come back to the practice.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Making stuff should be fun, and you should feel like you are engaging in a state of play at times throughout your practice. I know not everything that you make will be “happy” nor should it be, but being in a space to give yourself room to play and enjoy your practice is important. If it’s not bringing you any joy, why do it in the first place?
  • Look at other artists’ work and experience art outside of the primary medium you work in.
  • Read books. Listen to music. Watch films. Look at paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, graphic design, typography, clothing, architecture, etc. etc. etc. Look at it all! You’re part of a tradition and ritual of making art, join the community by being active in your own consumption of creative material. I promise it will inspire you endlessly. I sometimes hear certain artists say things like, “I don’t look at other artists’ work so I can completely focus on what I’m doing and have no outside influences”. I don’t resonate with that and also don’t think that’s really possible. You can’t create art in a vacuum. There is SO MUCH amazing work out there, go seek it out, you will learn a lot!
  • When you’re trying to come up with a concept for a project, don’t try to come up with the greatest and most unique idea you’ve ever had right away. That will just create writer's block and be frustrating. Actually, maybe don’t even try to have a solid concept at all right away. Remember, that ANYTHING can be a story. You don’t have to stress about doing something that’s never been done before, that’s a daunting and unrealistic expectation.
  • Don’t expect to get everything you apply for. Whether it’s an art show, a grant, a residency, whatever it may be. Learn how to not take rejection personally, and instead use it as a learning opportunity. Keep applying for things, and don’t give up.
  • Keep a sketchbook for your ideas. It’s fun.
  • Do something nice for someone and don’t tell anybody about it.

Is there anything else you want visitors to know about you or your work?

I love talking about art and process, it’s one of my favorite things to do. Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions at all. I love sharing ideas, knowledge, and conversations.