Architecture and Design

Question The Artist: Illustrator Chris Gash

As you can read in this week's cover story, you'll see that the kids are still not all right. Certainly not a fun topic, but certainly one that demands attention.

With such a serious subject of suburban teen drug abuse, one might think it wise to go a more somber route with how to portray it on the cover. Yet, there's an old saying that you can attract more flies with honey than, well, morbid, bitter vinegar. With that said, in order to also attract more eyes -- for the sake of history not repeating itself -- perhaps a wolf in sheep's clothing is in order here.

That's when we once again turned to New Jersey-based illustrator (and Montclair State University teacher of illustration concepts) Chris Gash to conjure up some of his special brand of artwork to package up this unfortunate tale of kids falling victim to the "cheese" trap yet again here in North Texas.

Sharpen your pencils, kids. Class with Mr. Gash is about to begin. This course will cover experimenting with finding your style, teaching illustration, and jazz. Pay attention! 

My name is Chris Gash and I did my first ever illustration job for the NYTimes Book Review in August 2000, a few months after finishing school.  I actually started out as a design student and then switched over to illustration, around which time I landed an internship with Steven Guarnaccia, and then stayed on as his assistant for three years. From then I worked only as an illustrator until 2006, when I began teaching Illustration Concepts at Montclair State University. Now I teach two courses each semester, and that requires a lot of juggling to handle my illustration load and school, but I love both and I'm making it work, even if I'm a little tired.

As for the rest of my life, I live in New Jersey with my special lady friend, our daughter, Lucy, and our dog who is so ugly she's cute, and then goes past cute and back to ugly again.  And I try to squeeze in ping pong whenever possible.

If you ask me, I'm an idea guy - for me, that's the best part of illustration and why I love editorial.  While most of the work I do looks like old comics or Pop art, I like to think my specialty is concepts, and that that defines my work more than the retro stylizations.  So if there were something I wish I could do more of, it would be that - not feeling tied down to one style all the time, to let the idea dictate the visual.  With the NYT Science Times or Biz Day where I've had a standing weekly assignment for years, I always feel like I can try anything, whatever I think will be the best solution, and we've made some great images.  It's great when an art director trusts you to just run with something.

 Who can you credit as a major artistic influence(s) to your style/kind of work? 

I could list artists all day...lately I've been obsessing over the old Fortune covers. Antonio Petruccelli's first Fortune cover with the horses?  Sooo good.

What are some "non-artistic" sources of inspiration for you, if any?

Are there any new/exciting big projects on the horizon for yourself?

I just worked on one of the most exciting projects of my career with the NYTimes, but I can't really talk about it yet, which is driving me crazy. I'll be promoting it for sure in a few weeks and I hope it turns in to a regular assignment. That would be super exciting.

If I was asked to illustrate the title sequence for a re-release of the movie Summer Stock (not a remake, just a repackaging), that would be a dream project.  And I've always wanted to do the Summer Reading illustrations for the NYT Book Review.  Either one of those would make my year.

Follow the Mixmaster on Twitter: @the_mixmaster.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Alexander Flores
Contact: Alexander Flores