Chris Raimo Art (Illustrator)

Chris Raimo Art: An Interview with Chris Raimo

On 'Spooky Things', 'Living with Nightmares',
and avoiding walk-through haunted houses.

Artist Chris Raimo makes spooky things damn fun, and when I say fun I mean not just so for folks like me who find pleasure in watching horror films. Chris’ cute and quirky illustrations of morbid monsters are dark but not so much so that they will repel younger kids or fearful adults (ahem, the chickens) out there. Colourful characters such as Jack who loves to dress up as famous horror icons or Gloomera the somber little girl surrounded by creepy characters in her dark and spooky world are uncommonly gleeful. His animations allow one to regard elements often thought of as frightening, such as nightmares, in a more humorous and pleasing light. I would go so far as even argue that his coloring book ‘Living with Nightmares’ would make a perfect outlet for kids and adults who scare easily by allowing them to exact some form of control over fear-inducing nightmares through helping mold them. Ah, but clearly, I’m not a psychologist and presenting studies in this post would detract from featuring Chris’ clever works. For me and my kids, we just want to be able to lend our creativity and a bit of colour to some devilishly delightful nightmares!

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What is the most challenging part about creating your artwork?

Finding time. I have so many projects and pieces in progress, but with a full time job and family it can be difficult sometimes.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I love horror, horror movies, and really scary things, but I do not like walk thru Haunted Houses ha.

Can you tell me a bit more about the artistic process you follow when creating your artwork?

Sometimes ideas will just pop in my head, or I’ll see something that will inspire a piece or I’ll do some research for inspiration. I’m big on creating an atmosphere when I work, so I will usually put on specific music to set the “mood” of what I’m working on. I draw everything by hand, then ink with brush, then I digitally color to finalize the piece.

I love horror, horror movies, and really scary things, but I do not like walk thru Haunted Houses ha.
Any particular artists you admire or inspire you?

The list is very long, but I would say Skinner and John Keith Mortensen are definitely up there.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

One of my former college professors, now a friend, once told me I should never be working on just one piece at a time. He told me I should have multiple pieces going at a time, so if I became stuck or lost on one I can easily jump to another and still be productive. I’ve never forgotten that, and that’s why I currently have a 2ft tall stack of “in progress” illustrations.

When you think of the concept of 'the artist's ego', what comes to mind?

I know ego is normally viewed as a negative trait, but when it comes to any sort of creative be it art, music, etc., the artist needs to have some form of self-confidence, or strong belief in their work. I personally am very hard on myself and never think anything I do is good enough, but in turn it keeps me from getting lazy and pushes me to constantly keep learning and trying to improve my work.

Why do you think there is a growing interest in macabre art?

I think there’s a growing interest because it’s different, and unlike any form of art out there. It explores the dark things in the artist’s mind; things only they can visualize and bring to life and people are drawn to that.

Any future plans you intend to pursue with your artwork?

I have just completed a successfully funded Kickstarter for my art book “Spooky Things”, and now have a coloring book titled “Living With Nightmares” in development. I’d like to pursue more books and other projects that involve my artwork without limiting it to just print.

This is sort of just a fun question for readers to get to know you better :) What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of giant squids?

The first thing I think of is the Popeye movie with Robin Williams! I remember seeing that as a kid and being obsessed with the idea of giant squids and I try to incorporate them into my work from time to time.

What would you do differently if you knew 10 years ago what you know now as an artist?

I would definitely be more focused on my own style and original content, and not to depend on opportunities to come knocking.

What terrifies you the most?

Death, plain and simple.

Has there ever been a time when you felt uninspired or felt like quitting? If so, how did you overcome this set-back?

I wouldn’t say uninspired as there is literally an endless amount of things that inspire me to create, but there are definitely times when I’ve wanted to give up mainly from frustration or self-doubt. I’ve found the easiest way to overcome this, for me, is taking a break or a few days away from illustrating to sort of mentally refresh.

What is the most interesting complement or criticism you have ever received?

The same professor who gave me the advice I previously mentioned, was very critical about every piece I did in his class, and not as much on other students. When I had my final critique with him he gave me the opportunity to ask him anything, so I sarcastically asked “Give me one compliment, just one.” He said “I knew you were good and had potential, but I was critical with you because I didn’t want you to get lazy. You worked harder and got better because of it.” I will never forget that ha.

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