Arizona native BIGCHRIS (aka Big Chris Wood) is an established professional artist & illustrator who has worked on projects as varied as the Halo and Left 4 Dead video games to providing artwork for bands like KoRn and System of a Down. He has also lent his unlimited and unique artistic skills to numerous national comics, magazine covers, TV commercials and Hollywood movies.
Since returning home to Mesa in 2010, BIGCHRIS has become hugely popular on the local pop culture art scene and has devoted his time towards uniting and supporting the local creative community. BIGCHRIS is still working in the field of video game development and as the Art Director for Burst Online Entertainment he has recruited talented local artists like Chris Burkheart, James Hiralez and Shelby Robertson and is guiding their professional path in the fast-growing video game industry.
“These guys traded in ‘jobs’ for very promising ‘careers’ in the world of video games,” said BIGCHRIS. “This has been accomplished by a real sense of brotherhood and loyalty to see each other succeed… every day.”
BIGCHRIS’ heart is even bigger than his very large stature and he intends to build an army of Arizona artists, saying, “This is my hope for EVERY artist and writer in the AZ comic book community, that we band together… support each other… and grow into a united force that will take over the world.”
BIGCHRIS continued, “When an out of state convention sees us coming, it won’t be this ‘guy’ or that ‘gal,’ [instead] they will say of us, ‘Here comes Arizona – they know how it’s done.’ I’m ready to see the AZ Comic Culture represent and set the standard for everyone else.” BIGCHRIS said, “Across the board it will take unity, respect and loyalty to each other. But above all else, it will take love for comics and one another. Let’s do this!”
As part of our Nerdvana Artist Profile series leading up to the 2012 Phoenix Comicon, BIGCHRIS took time out from his myriad of community and creative endeavors to answer some questions about his current projects and preparations for the upcoming convention.
What is your secret origin?
I was born and raised here in Mesa, AZ. Since 2004 I have lived all over the country but in 2010 I moved back and now reside once again, here at home in Mesa, AZ.
How do you describe your artwork?
I normally describe my work as “DARK POP”. My subject matter is usually dark or gothic in nature but typically will have brighter or more saturated color levels than one might expect considering the illustration’s theme. I enjoy taking a horror theme and making it accessible to anyone.
What is your goal/ambition with your art?
I am currently involved in several projects but my ultimate goal is to continue down the path of building my own video game studio. My company and current project is called “Straight Jacket Labs.”
I am presently the Art Director for a company called Burst Online. I recently hired some local favorites and have brought them in to join my art team. Shelby Robertson, Chris Burkheart, James Hiralez and I are working together on a game called WarMage Battlegrounds. As for myself personally, I am working on a couple of iphone and iPad apps as well as launching a clothing line. You can see much of this line at badacecards.com.
Who/what has influenced you most artistically? Which artist(s) do you most admire?
I have a couple of major influences… I have always loved the art of BROM (bromart.com). Another great artist who has had massive influence on my art is a native to AZ – Howard Lyon. He was one of the first Art Directors I ever had and he had amazing inspiration in the way that I see color and composition.
Who is your favorite local artist?
I have far too many local favorites to name. However, one of my all-time favorites is Judy Wood (my mother). You can find her work in galleries all over the state. She is outstanding!
What is your favorite music to listen to while working on your art?
I generally will listen to heavier more melodic music while I work (Deftones, Tool, A Perfect Circle, etc). But as of late… nothing pumps me up like a little Skrillex – that’s right, I said it; I’m on the band wagon. Thanks to MF Jaime Ruiz, Hong Le & the good folks at Gotham City Comics & Coffee for introducing me.
Well, the first rule is… I’m not supposed to talk about it, and the second rule is… I’m not supposed to talk about it.
What are you most looking forward to at Phoenix Comicon?
Last year it was SO massive that I remember the Fire Marshal having us all literally sit on the floor for a bit. I am looking most forward to seeing how much bigger this convention can get. Phoenix is taking over the world.
Are you offering any special exclusives for fans at Comicon?
I will be offering a couple of Phoenix Comicon exclusive prints this year. With the help of my ridiculously hardcore fan base “The Asylum” we won [the] “Sunday” badge for the Phoenix Comicon Badge Art Contest. I have converted this image into an 11×17 print and another submission as well. I will have these as exclusives at the con this year.
At a recent tattoo convention I was asked to illustrate a baby hippo wearing a tutu and ballet shoes. They wanted her in a dance pose while fanning herself with Visa, Discover and MasterCard credit cards. This is one of the more recent memorable ones.
If you had a superpower, what would it be and how did you acquire it?
My super power is the ability to consume truckloads of taco bell in a single sitting without getting full. This power was acquired and perfected off of McKellips and Stapley in Mesa.
BIGCHRIS will have 2 connected tables in artist alley at this year’s Phoenix Comicon and you can find him at booths #827 & #829. BIGCHRIS is also the executive sponsor of the BAD ACE charity poker tournament at the convention (Date/Time TBD). You can find him on his Free Comic Book Day World Tour this coming Saturday (5/5/2012) when he will be appearing at Gotham City Comics & Coffee, Pop Culture Paradise, Drawn to Comics and Hero Comics. You can also follow BIGCHRIS on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.
Arizona catches a lot of heat in the media and from the nation as a whole, but nevertheless our crazy ‘Hellscape’ is proudly called “home” by some of the greatest pop culture artistic talent in the country. So leading up to the 2012 Phoenix Comicon (May 24 – 27), Nerdvana will showcase a series of posts profiling some of the amazing local artists that will be appearing at this year’s convention. Read ALL the Nerdvana’s Artist Profiles!