PRO PORTRAIT: Illustrator and Punk Rock Bassist Chris Shearer.

Chris Shearer is an illustrator, a designer—an artist. He’s also a bassist—a musician and a member of a punk rock band. Chris is a creative professional. 

Chris grew up playing hockey and running track in a conservative town called Holland, Michigan—a town where you’ll find a church on every corner and where the local tourist attractions are the fields of tulips and Dutch Klompen dancing. It’s America’s heartland.

He gravitated to art and music as a young boy—surrounded by both, and inspired by his family to pursue whatever was interesting to him. He started playing guitar at camp trips with friends who would bring their acoustic guitars to play around the fire. “I picked up my first Martin when I was about 16,” recalls Chris. 

Chris’ great grandfather was an oil painter who came to the U.S. from England when he was 14. He too, had his own passion for painting and drawing. “A lot of his works were mostly of landscapes of his hometown of South Hampton” says Chris. “His eagerness to show me how to use oil paints and render perspectives through drawing truly inspired me at a very young age. He always had this magical sense of demonstrating the creative world.” 

Music and drawing was how he would spend his spare time growing up. “When I was in middle school, other kids would want me to draw their favorite comic or cartoon character. Sometimes I would use pictures or clippings given to me to draw from.” By high school, Chris was dabbling in acrylics and working out his charcoal skills.  “I became a teacher's assistant in the art department but this might have been since I spent most of my time there anyway.”  He continued discovering his love of art in college--studying illustration along with other facets of the art world. It was in college where he also formed his first punk rock band, Across The Hall (named after the relentless jamming in the dorm room "across the hall" from ours) with Chris playing bass alongside three other friends from school.

Chris began fusing his passion for music and art by designing concert flyers, album art, stickers, buttons, and t-shirts. He also started a screen-printing business in his parent’s basement with a couple of his friends from high school—Jesse and Josh. Their business was successful and grew to having its own storefront in downtown Grand Rapids.

But after college, the partners began going their own way, and Chris and his wife Amber (who he had met at college) decided to move to San Francisco to pursue their dreams. They loaded up some clothes, their two cats and a guitar and headed west. First stop: a month-to-month lease hotel room on Taylor Street in downtown San Francisco. “While excited about moving to a new city, Amber held initial uncertainty. Since then, the both of us have enjoyed our personal growth and success in what inspires us.”

As for other artists, Chris is drawn to Robert Rauschenberg, Escher, Dutch painters, Rembrandt, Banksy, Keith Haring, Robert Crumb, Hurst, Basquiate, Pollock, Warhol, Paul Madonna, and The Ramones.

While Chris’ wife Amber (who also inspires him) worked her way into a steady leadership position at the SPCA, he has been developing new art and music projects. “Since 2007, I have been rendering a collection of pen and ink drawings largely compiled of urban and architectural compositions.”

Chris says he has been deeply inspired by the energy of the city and urban atmosphere. His drawings embrace the unique textures of the Bay Area landscape. “I often think of these compositions as long standing "glances" derived from my visual journal.”

Chris also continues performing, reuniting with some of his band mates from Michigan to form another punk group called “Build Them To Break.” They have put out 3 EP's and a 7" record split with Oakland's punk group Weekender.  Future plans include a new record starting in November and some touring going into 2014.

As for his art, he is a registered artist in Art Prize 2013 among 1500 artists, 35 venues and a $200,000 1st place prize, back in Michigan. “The piece I am displaying is ‘From Twin Peaks, North’ which is a 6 foot long pen and ink drawing, and took a year to complete.” “From Twin Peaks, North" will also be appearing as larger-than-original-scale wallpaper in La Boutique in North Beach (San Francisco).

 

Chris is also a street vendor in San Francisco, selling his pen and ink drawings as prints and postcards in the downtown area. You can see more of his art at his website here.

Whether street vending or performing in his punk group, Chris sees life as an artist as his primary goal. It’s what drives him, and makes him a true creative professional.

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