Chris von Steiner is a French artist currently living & working in Brussels. He draws, samples, loops, and edits his work on the computer, creating compelling and stunning digital art. His work is both dark and humorous, sexy and scary. He has created a world that draws you in immediately and keeps you coming back for more. Chris has also published two novels in France and one in the U.S., in a collection assembled by Dennis Cooper. His paintings have been exhibited throughout Europe and the United States.
Aida: You seem to be very influenced by music and pop culture. Your work is an interesting mixture of media, mythical creatures, humor, and darkness. Do you generally start off with one idea and see where it takes you or is everything very planned and deliberate?
Chris von Steiner: Well, I wouldn’t say everything is planned, even if I always have a thematic idea before working on a series of works, a story to tell, or at least, something to say. First, I usually work randomly on various studies. When satisfied with about ten of them which make sense regarding the main idea/story, I start to work on the final pieces.
A: When did you decide you wanted to be a digital artist, and what type of art were you doing before?
CVS: In the early 90’s, as soon as I started working on a computer, it became an evidence: no more brushes, paintings, pencils or paper… At that time, I was working as an art director/graphic designer in advertising. It took many years to find my own style and finally quit this job to work as a full time artist. My very first digital piece was produced/printed in 2004, I think…
A: You also use a lot of children in your work. Is there something about your childhood you’re trying to revisit through this, or is there some other significance to it?
CVS: Yes, it had definitely something to do with my own childhood. The “Bright Lights/Dark Shadows” series for example, deals mainly with early childhood issues and it’s effect on adulthood. The “Snow King” series too, in a more dreamy/narrative way, though… Most of my work is full of childhood memories anyway, even if they don’t “show” children…
A: I particularly enjoy Lost Boys of Dreamland Forest. What inspired this series?
CVS: I wrote a lot between 2000 and 2002. Some novels were published in France, and one short story in USA, in a collection assembled by Dennis Cooper. But some of them remained unpublished still, so I decided to use them as an inspiration for some visual works. The “Lost Boys of Dreamland Forest” series is directly inspired by one of these unpublished novels, as for the “Snow King” series. I don’t think my work would be the same without writing. It helped me a lot to learn about myself and to know what/how I really wanted to express as a visual artist.
A: Do you feel that there are a lot of misconceptions about your work? What would you say to clear up any confusion and allow people to really understand your work?
CVS: I wouldn’t speak in term of “misconception”, because, even if my work is quite autobiographical and narrative, it never tells people what to think. Some find it cute and funny, others find it both scary and sexy… or just offensive. If they don’t understand what I really mean to say, it’s not that important to me, as long as they react to my work… I only encourage them to question themselves about what they feel and why. I love to think they project on my work their own fantasies, and give it a second life. So, no explanations about my work: I want people being confused about it anyway… and I have to admit that some of my works are still like dreams to me: they hide in themselves their very own secrets and logic.
To see more of Chris’ work, please visit: http://www.chrisvonsteiner.com