Are you from Miami?
Yes. My parents lived in New York but I was born in Newark, New Jersey for some reason. I came to Miami when I was really young and have been living here my whole life so yes I would say I am from Miami.
What do you love most about Miami?
What I like about Miami is that it is a young city, with art and everything else. It is very up and coming. Other cities are more established because they have a rich history and they have been around for a while, like New York or Chicago. Miami is up and coming. We can do something to put this city on the map and I want to be part of that.
When did you start your career as an artist?
I have been painting since I was a little kid. My dad was an artist, he did mechanical drafting, and my brother was a graffiti artist. A few years ago I took it into the career direction. I started to rush less. Now, I take time and leave things to dry and I plan things and put more effort into it than I would before. The older I got the more I realized that I have to stop messing around and really focus on my artwork.
What movie should everyone watch at least once and why?
I am a horror movie guy. I like the original thing. The old thing. A lot of the horror stuff is pure gruesome and you see stuff cut and bleed. I like stuff like that.
Do you ever use that as an inspiration in your work?
I used to. Not now. Before, I used to paint very gruesome and weird stuff.. I switched and now I have these weird and sad, melancholy-type dudes. That is what they call them. I don’t think they are sad. They have more of a blank stare, a normal stare. In most of my paintings what stands out most are the eyes. I think, whether a person is happy, sad or whatever emotion they are going through, they cannot hide it in their eyes. Even though someone is smiling you can tell they have conflict in their eyes. You can tell. Eyes tell a lot about people and their stories.
Do you start with the eyes when you paint?
Yes, most of the times I start with the eyes first. First thing I draw. First thing I paint.
Many of your characters have two different size eyes. Why?
I don’t like things perfect. Nothing is really perfect. If you really think about it and you measure yourself, one eye is always bigger than the other. I take what you learn from true art and true form and twist it and change it up. I break the rules in my own way.
Some of your characters are recurring in your work, aren’t they?
They are similar looking. I try to switch things up and do different things.
Do you create a narrative around each of these characters or is that irrelevant to your creation process?
It is irrelevant. It is more like a subconscious thing. Most of the time I am not trying to portray certain things but they do come out that way. When I paint I go with the flow.
Do you fashion any of your characters after yourself?
I don’t try to but I guess it does come out that way. I think every artist kind of puts himself in every painting in a way, whether it is visually or emotionally. They do. I won’t deny it but I do not do it on purpose.
Who else do you think about or use as inspiration?
I take everything from everyday life to movies, music, and friends. I just take a little bit of everything and I create stuff.
Do you title your work?
No I don’t. I am horrible with giving names and titles. I also do not think they need it. I want the work to speak for itself. I don’t want to call something “Tahitian Sunrise” because the background has certain colors. Everybody comes up with these fancy names. I am not a big writer. That is not my strength. I have talents in other areas. I like to create worlds and characters. Coming up with names is just not my forte. If you buy one of my paintings or one of my dudes you can call him “Juan” or Carlos or whatever you want to name him.
You paint a lot of dudes. Do you also paint female characters?
I used to draw only women. I got tired because that is what everyone wanted me to do. Everybody was like, “draw me a pin up girl, draw me a zombie girl, draw me a mermaid girl.” I got tired of the same requests. I wanted to do something different. I draw dudes and it is different. A lot of artists paint a lot of women. I have always drawn these weird little dudes and I have my own style. I wanted to do something people recognize as mine. My stuff is morbid and weird and has a different feel to it. I am actually doing an Audrey Hepburn piece right now though. I have not painted like that in a while but I can do it. I like testing myself. It is refreshing to do it once in a while.
Since we have been talking about weird dudes…what are the “Chris Valdes Top 5 Weird Dudes?”
1. The bad guy from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit” Christopher Lloyd aka Judge Doom
2. Christoph Waltz, who was in “Django Unchained”
3. Daniel Day-Lewis who played “The Butcher” in “Gangs of New York.” He really plays awesome characters. He is such a great actor
4. The dog “Jake” from “Adventure Time”
5. I am a weird, bizarre character myself
If you could have an exhibition anywhere, where would you want to have it?
I think Japan. Tokyo. That would probably be awesome. I think I would do well there and people would like my art. It is a Mecca for art and weird stuff so that would be cool and different from what everybody else does.
What is your biggest dream?
If I can do art and live comfortable then I don’t care if I get rich or famous. If I can do something that I love and still live in a house and have a family and do art and get by then I would take that any time.
What is the most important lesson your parents ever taught you?
Work hard and be humble. I get that from my dad. I go with the flow of things, I am humble and I do not let things get to me and I work very hard.
Are you a perfectionist when it comes to your work?
Yes. I have a vision but it is never going to be as exact as possible. Even when you think it is exact and a couple of days or weeks pass and then you are staring at it you start thinking, “Oh I could have done this or added that.” That is how you learn from it and you keep going and going. As time goes by you start mastering your craft more and more.
What do people not know about you?
I give you something most people do not know. It is something a little more personal. I have really bad anxiety. Really bad. Doing art calms me down. In times of need, when I need to relax, it makes me function in society. I am just a very anxious person. Only close friends and family know about that. It is part of me. I am a weird, neurotic, anxious person. A lot of the emotions and things that I have gone through shows in my art.
You have quite a few tattoos. Did you design any of them yourself?
No. I love art so much and I love getting pieces by my friends who are tattoo artists. I love getting my artist friends pieces and work. I am such a fan of different styles. I love how people create different things. That inspires me and keeps me going and pushes me to do better and be a better artist. I do appreciate art. I am not one of those people who do art and are snobby and do not like other people’s art. I enjoy people’s art and I see what they can do and I love seeing people create. Even though they may not have an artistic background or are not very skilled just doing what you feel and putting yourself out there, showing your emotion, I appreciate that.
So you basically collect art on your body
Yes I collect art on myself
Do you collect art otherwise?
Yes. I have a couple of pieces from my friends at my house. I love art. I buy art from my friends. I know they work hard and need to make their money. I am all for it. I know what they go through to create stuff. I love art and I am always going to love it.
You recently were part of a group show at Viophilia. What was the experience?
It was awesome. I loved it. It was very diverse with so many styles and different techniques. I truly enjoyed that. It was a cool little show. A show like that really shows the art and the creative side of people. It had a great turnout. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it.
You appreciate diversity of technique. Do you want to experiment with other media?
I am always trying out new things. I always experiment. I pick up stuff and see what other people try. As artists we learn and pick up stuff from other people but always try to do our own thing. Recently I have been using a lot of clear resin. I like to see what I can do and I like to add it to my wood pieces to give this nice gloss.