There's no mistaking artwork created by Chad Maupin. Colorful, vibrant and dynamic, his designs -- which often incorporate his love of vintage comic books and classic horror movies -- leap off the page and assault your senses in the most delightful of ways. Maupin has run his own design studio, Big-Bot Design, for over a decade now and specializes in "seamlessly integrating skilled illustration with versatile graphic design." But he's been creating art for much longer than that and co-founded the funky and unique craft collective CattyWampus Co-Op. Maupin took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about his craft before Saturday's Spring Bizarre, which brings together more than 100 artisans at Mount Sequoyah.
When did you first start thinking of yourself as an artist/creator/maker? What were some of the first things you remember creating?
I've always thought of myself as an artist. One of my earliest memories was being a 4-year-old child and telling my father I was going to be a cartoonist and artist when I grew up. I spent my entire childhood and adolescence analyzing the things I was obsessed with creatively and trying to figure out how to make that happen in a pre-internet era and without any support systems.
Do you experience "creator's block" and, if so, what kinds of things inspire you to get over that?
I struggle with this quite a bit but also don't worry about it that much anymore. I began my career nearly 30 years ago as a very young man and was forced to learn discipline and work ethic in a high pace industry on the fly. There simply wasn't the luxury of doing the work when the mood hit.
You have to learn how to work past those blocks and develop rituals and methods to counter creative blockage. For me a huge part of that process is changing my scenery and working in my sketchbook as regularly as possible. Creating "sacred time" to be an artist without an agenda keeps me tethered to my creative mind and helps me switch gears from the daily grind of getting the work done.
What's your favorite part of the creative process?
I love being in touch with my intuition and creative subconscious. I've had a lot of ideas and concepts that came from simply drawing and writing without an agenda and letting my mind speak to me. It feels magical.
How has your work changed or evolved over time?
I think I've become more skilled and trusting in my instincts after all this time. In some ways the work itself isn't all that different, but my perception of it is.
What is one tool in your studio you can't live without?
My pens and paper. I have an ever evolving toolbox of pens and brushes I use for my linework as well as high quality Bristol board and my sketchbooks. All of my digital work is done on a Mac. I don't do any digital illustration and don't know if I ever will. I talk about it from time to time but love the limitations of physical media and the choices it forces you to make. Having physical artifacts of my work is also something that has value to me. If I'm the last person drawing on paper someday that's OK with me.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Alan Moore once said: "It's not the job of the artist to give the audience what the audience wants. If the audience knew what they needed, then they wouldn't be the audience. They would be the artists. It is the job of artists to give the audience what they need."
If you could change one aspect of society through your work, what would it be?
I think emotional intelligence, introspection and empathy are incredibly important and character traits sorely lacking in our society. I love to create work that helps encourage people to have a healthier relationship with themselves.
Do you have any advice for a creative just starting out?
Learn to listen to yourself, develop your skills, find your people and persevere.
Lara Hightower can be reached at [email protected]