This Week from Lisa Congdon: Christopher Bettig//the Mountain Label

by Lisa Congdon


This week I bring you an interview with one my favorite artists and designers, Christopher Bettig of Los Angeles. Christopher is known for his bold, colorful, graphic work in numerous mediums, and, for those who know him, his kind personality. He grew up between the US and France and share with us here a bit about his background, his inspirations, and his hopes and dreams.


Lisa: Hi Christopher! Thanks for talking with me today. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist?

Christopher: Actually,  I still don't know if I want to be an artist,  I just became one. I would always draw and make stuff as a child. My parents were
really big on educational / construction sorts of toys so I would build stuff all the time. I also remember trying to make enough drawings of trees on 8x11 paper to entirely cover my walls of my bedroom to make it into a forest. My first attempt at a wallpaper. But I don't think there ever was a singular moment where I decided that I wanted to be an artist. I was really into indie rock and making zines and stuff like that in high school, and was very anti-establishment and all teen angsty so there just has never been a point in my life where a "normal" job was ever something that I wanted. I think I just have always really enjoyed working with my hands and just making things, anything. So, until that changes, I am an artist.


Lisa: Did you study art in school? If so, how do you think that has helped you? How (if at all) has it hindered you?

Christopher: I did go to art school, but only after having gone to a variety of other schools, first for writing & history and then I eventually got my BFA in
painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. I did learn a lot about composition and a lot of technical things in art
making be it processes or color theory etc., but MICA was a very traditional painting school at the time I was there and I was always
battling through my critiques because I didn't think Lucien Freud was the greatest painter ever. The school was about 75% painting majors so, the one thing I regret was that the program wasn't a bit more progressive and would have allowed painters to work with graphic designers etc. It was very much a us vs them mentality "us" being "fine artists" and "them" being "commercial artists" but at the time, to be fair, there wasn't really this massive blurring of those lines. I am happy that I went there, I did learn a lot.


Lisa: How many hours a week do you spend making art or working on your art business? Do you wish it were more or less or is it just right?

Christopher: I am working all the time it seems. If I'm not in the studio making artwork for shows, then I'm at the computer designing products or graphics, or just doing the day to day business stuff like invoicing or blogging etc.  I love what I do, I just wish there were more hours in the day, or that I had an intern.


Lisa: Are you a morning person or night person? How does this effect your creative work?

Christopher: NIGHT PERSON! I love it. It's quiet, no distractions. It's the best.


Lisa: Describe a body of work you have just finished or on which you are
currently working.

Christopher: I'm in the middle of making a bunch of new stuff for a show in NYC @ Giant Robot & for one in Ottawa @ Canteen Life . It's continuing in the themes of the last few years, a lot of geometrical shapes and repeating patterns while all the imagery fits, loosely, under astronomical stuff. These new pieces have a lot of really bright colored paper collaged & sewn elements that are sort of meant to be representing things like nebulas or the ever
expanding universe, and sort of flow and overlay on top of each other and just pour off the panels. There are some screen printed patterns furthering this idea of infinity and expansion as well as some circle shapes made of paper with hand drawn imperfect patterns over them. I'm also using spray paint and pencil to draw some more subtle shapes in the backgrounds as well. The overall finished pieces are more abstract then anything else, and don't really look like as outer space as I'm describing it.


Lisa: What are your dreams for your art career?

Christopher: To be an installation artist like Jessica Stockholder or Phoebe Washburn would be absolutely amazing. Their works are so different but I'm just really attracted to the way the build & assemble things. It would literally be the peak of everything that I am doing, it completely encompasses all the little elements of everything that I make and incorporates them into a single unit & it looks like fun.


Lisa: What/who are your greatest influences?

Christopher: As far as artists go : Jessica Stockholder , Phoebe Washburn , Charles & Ray Eames , Geoff McFetridge , Christian Marclay , Alexander Girard , Piet Mondrian , Christian Boltanski , Richard Diebenkorn . Astronomy, music, traveling, my dad & growing up constantly going back and forth from France to America was also very influential.


Lisa: What are the three most important things you want people to know about you as an artist and/or your work?

1. That I have never really felt American or French and as a result I sort
of have an identity crisis which also leads me to feel disjointed and
always on the outside.. Im a bummer basically, and I think that comes
through a lot in the things I make.
2. I really like Geometry and Astronomy
3. I don't know anything about Geometry and Astronomy


Lisa: Lastly, what do you believe in?

Christopher: Long live Science!

You can read more about Christopher and see more of his stunning work (including his amazing patterns) here and visit his shop here .

Jan Halvarson


monkeyandsquirrel said...

love love love all those little birdies!!!

Kathleen said...

I love that first print!

Heidi said...

Love the chucks!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic work and great article. I love the book "Naive" as well!