Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chris McVeigh- Legos, Star Wars, and Chipmunks

_______________A Balanced Breakfast
-----------------------------Photograph by Chris McVeigh All rights reserved

No longer does a person have to be lucky enough to have a gallery show, or try to get feedback from a limited circle of friends in order to know if what is being created is connecting with an audience. We all want to connect with others somehow with what we create, and for me that's what Bent Objects has done, and I have the internet to thank for that.

Lately, I've become curious about other people who are creating work to post online, and have decided to do some interviews for my own selfish reasons.

Some of these people have work that you've seen floating around the web, and maybe some of them will be new to you. I'm no journalist, but I hope people might get something out of the following interview, and hopefully future ones too.

I picked Chris McVeigh as my first person to interview because I felt some kind of connection with his work. He's a graphic designer by trade, which I can tell by his design sense. He uses characters that are already made (Star Wars toys, and lego people), but then he puts them in situations that form a sort of narrative sometimes, or a gag other times, much like me. He also has added an incredibly unique element to his photographs- live characters in his shots in the form of wild chipmunks (!), that he has managed to tame to some extent.

Chis has sold images to Microsoft, and has had a Chewie meets chipmunk photograph on the front page of the official Star Wars Blog.

Okay, here goes-

Me- Where did you learn to photograph your work?

Chris- All self-taught. Pretty much everything I do is self-taught, actually, from writing to illustrating to Adobe Photoshop. I glean bits of information here and there and just use that as a starting point for experimentation. I find it's the best way to learn, really; I'd much rather be actively sorting out how to do something in my head than reading about how to do it.

What are some of your influences? Cartoons? Movies? (Only I would ask what cartoons influenced a person. Geez.)

Well I think it's safe to say Star Wars is a main influence. It's odd, but it's only been in recent years where I've felt free to articulate my geekiness in any real capacity. It's just so accepted at the moment, so I'm reveling in it.

Is there something that triggered that change in you? What brought it on?

I think it's all about finding an audience or a group of people with whom you share interests. The first few Star Wars Chipmunk pics that I put together got a great response, and no one piped up and said "Oh, you're such a moron, why don't you just grow up?" That's the kind of response I would expect from some people in my social circle, and it's the kind of negative reinforcement that cause so many of us to abandon our interests just to fit in, or fulfill someone else's expectations of us. But I've outed myself now. I'm a geek, I love action figures and video games, and I don't care what anyone thinks anymore. And I'm not the only one who has stood up and declared my geekhood; there seems to be a major social movement towards that right now. No shame, not any more.

Where do you see this all going?

Honestly, I have no idea. I actually have a backlog of chipmunks photos and I'm pacing myself. I don't want people to get sick of them or lose an appreciation for the work that goes into each one. I am sure there are already some people out there who think "OMG its teh chipmunk guy agains!!?!"

After you've exhausted your chipmunk ideas, then it's back to shooting mainly just the figures themselves? (BTW, my faves of yours are Chewbacca from below, on his skateboard, and the Stormtrooper lying down watching the river go by)

I think so. This summer more than others, I feel a lot of pressure to take shots of the chipmunks while they're out and about. Once fall rolls around, I'll have more time to focus on whimsical action figure and Lego shots. (I actually have three such shots currently in production but haven't had time to shoot any of 'em.)

Oh, and there will be follow up to the Chewbacca/skateboard shot, if I can ever get the sky to cooperate. :D

Has your photography and all that comes with it, has it changed your design sense at all?

I think so. It's certainly brought out a clear preference for minimalism. I usually try to construct images without too much chaos in the background. Now that might not be the truest definition of minimalism, but I definitely have a tendency to limit the amount of disparate items in my pictures in order to encourage focus.

Here's Chris with Frannie, one of his stars.

Thanks to Chris for humoring me with this. Make sure you check out his flickr page, and maybe even buy a print or t-shirt (I like this one, ha!).