Thursday, March 7, 2013

Interview: Artist Chris Hamer of Urbnpop

I recently had the great honor of interviewing local artist Chris Hamer, creator, owner, and artist at Urbnpop. We had a great time! Chris is an incredibly down-to-earth guy with an edgy sense of humor and a generous dose of charm. He's loads of fun AND a brilliant artist!

For the interview we met Grindhouse Killer Burgers at Sweet Auburn Market, where I met Shane, the owner of that location. He made us feel right at home! And he even made certain to reserve a spot for us that wouldn't interrupt his other customers…we all know how precious our lunch hour is!


Chris Hamer, Urbnpop with Shane, Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Sweet Auburn Curb Market
Chris Hamer, Urbnpop with Shane, Grindhouse Killer Burgers,
Sweet Auburn Curb Market
Why Grindhouse Killer Burgers? First of all, the burgers are killer! I've been to both locations and they’re consistently great—and a boozy shake (not during lunch, of course) is a great accompaniment to a Grindhouse meal.


And second, Chris’ artwork is prominently displayed, and is for sale, at this location…it was the perfect spot to chat with Chris—and check out some of his work.
Chris Hamer's art (Urbnpop) at Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Sweet Auburn Curb Market
Chris Hamer's art (Urbnpop) at Grindhouse Killer Burgers,
Sweet Auburn Curb Market
So, you may be asking, why the interview with an artist. Chris is an artist who is very active around Atlanta. I first met him at a Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) event, later saw him at Dragon*Con, and also see his work posted around Atlanta on signs and telephone poles (more on that later).
There’s no gallery in Buckhead and he’s far from a recluse. Chris is out there and if you friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, you can likely see him too when you visit our fair City.
Now…to the questions:
Where are you from?
I'm a Georgia native. I was born in Roswell and have lived all over Marietta, Vinings, Atlanta, and now I've been in Smyrna the better part of the last 10 years. I've had that itch to see what it's like to leave Atlanta, but I could never bring myself to. This is home. My friends and fans are my family and you can't leave family when it's as strong as this is.
What’s been the biggest “Wow!” moment of your career as an artist?
Chris Hamer, Urbnpop
Those moments, for me, happen all the time. Just when I think I've over saturated myself, I get surprised with the support and love my friends and fans give me...all the time! Traveling to new cities for conventions or festivals and having people who have found me on the Internet come looking for me at the shows...that's really cool. Some of my highlights: painting "live" at the Museum of Design Atlanta, or MODA; getting to do the "Gentlemen Jack's Art, Beats + Lyrics" event; Dragon*Con; New York Comic Con; and working on my first comic book.

What do you call your style of art?
Man, that's a loaded question. I really have never thought much about it, but my friend Matt calls it "DECYCLING." It's somewhere between comics, street art and folk ark. Maybe we can call it the "Sequential Junk Movement"?
In what medium(s) do you create?
Pretty much anything I can get my hands on, except oil paints. It's not that I do not like oils, I love them, but I do not have the patience to work in them.
How long have you been an artist?
I've been drawing all my life, but professionally for the last six years, as of this month as a matter of fact. It was March was when I took the moniker "Urbnpop" and started creating art under that name rather than Chris Hamer.
Tell us about this comic book you're working on.
Chris Hamer, Urbnpop
It's first full comic book. I've done a few multi-artist ones, but this one is all me. It's called Pink Noise, which is a recording term for the frequency of sound. The main character is a TV-head guy named Jonah, and it's about his growth, struggles, overcoming of odds, sad times, good times...life's adventures told through the lyrics of some of my favorite bands or singer-song writers. On the 15th of this month the first issue comes out. It's been one of those "Wow" moments you asked me about. I got the idea a few years back, and shelved it because of fear, and what I called at the moment, lack-of-time. And then, during my down time on the road, around November-January, I started e-mailing some of the bands I listened to while working on other art projects, just asking them what it would take to have them in the book. The first person who responded was Rob Huddleston from Ann Beretta. Rob was stoked, which got me more stoked, and then with his help and some more blind e-mails, I have gotten a solid list of bands that will carry me through three issues. Besides the words, I drew, inked, colored, and laid the whole thing out. It was a one-man-show, and I know when it comes back from the printer, I will have some of those dang-I-did-that-wrong moments, but I'm making peace with it, because It was a task I'm proud of and that I wanted to do, because I believed in it and it was the least I could do to say thanks to all those bands for helping me through the good and bad times in my life...their songs picked me up.

What was the catalyst for the comic book’s creation?
Chris Hamer, Urbnpop
Music was has faded in and out as my first love, but in the end, art shot to number one. So, when the idea for this comic came to mind, it seemed like a perfect match for who I was and how I created. Speaking of that, when I create, I love to have music playing. It helps me through those moments when I get stuck, weather it be with a piece of art, or just something going on in my head. So, once the first band said yes—granting me permission to use their lyrics for the comic—I knew this was my calling and I needed to make it happen.

How often will it be published?
Chris Hamer, Urbnpop
That's the trick of self-publishing, It all depends on funds! I'm 100% self-funding it and as amazing as my fans have been with previous Kickstarter projects I've done, I wanted to do this on my own. It kinda helps me keep things in check in my head and heart, if that make sense. Time is a consideration, too. With me traveling eight months out of the year promoting Urbnpop, I'm limited to how much time I can spend at my computer at home working on it. But, I have plans to every few months. In the mean time, I and some of my dear friends, who I travel with to these conventions, have also started another group comic called "Illustrated," which is mini- stories draw,written, and shared by the original creators in a collaborative comic. So, Pink Noise will appear in that from time to time, to help fill those voids when I'm behind putting out the next issue. This month will also lunch the first issue of that comic, too. I was honored to have my friends, Scott Blair, Michael Banks and Keith Rein, help me with the first issue of Pink Noise. So, in short, you will get your fill of Pink Noise and Urbnpop comics on a regular basis.

Where can people purchase the comic?
Chris Hamer, Urbnpop
Right now it's only available on my website, urbnpop.com, but once it's printed and I have it in my grubby lil' hands, I have a few independent shops and places that have offered to carry it for me. When I get all that officially lined up, I will have it posted on my website. But the best place is to grab it on my site because as each issue comes out there will be variant covers for each one, which is big in the comics industry. Those will be exclusive to my website, since they are printed in a limited run. The first issue of Pink Noise will have variants from Mike Groves of poopbird, Michael Banks of Sugar Fueled, and Sam Parker from Memorial Tattoo.

Can anyone submit lyrics/songs for inclusion in future issues?
As much as I would love to say yes, not right now. This comic, as much as it is someone else's lyrics, is my personal journey and I have hand-picked songs that have meant a lot to me over the years. Maybe after the first few books are done, who knows, I try never to predict the future.

What are you hoping for the comic in the long-term?
I'm approaching this just like I did, and still do, Urbnpop. Take it as it comes, live it to its fullest, but do not set expectations on what dictates success with it. I believe if you follow your bliss with whatever you do, 100%—or more, you will find long-term success and have many, many "Wow" moments along the way.

Sometimes you post your work (on signs and telephone poles) around Atlanta. What’s that all about?
Chris Hamer, Urbnpop
From time to time, I take part in the Free Art Friday, which was started by Kenn Twofour. It’s a neat way for me to give back to a community that has supported me. Art is an amazing gift we have been given, and knowing that someone might just be out for a walk or on their way to work, not expecting anything other than the normal routine, then having coming across a piece of art that makes them smile or helps brighten their day and knowing that it's theirs for free, as long as they want it...that is something that I'm proud to say I help support, in whatever small way I do.

I saw you at Dragon*Con 2012. Will you return?

Every year I plan on Dragon*Con—that’s one of my favorite shows, one that I've been fortunate enough to be part of. So yes, as long as there is a opportunity for me to take part, I'm there.

What other projects are you working on?

Chris Hamer, Urbnpop
I designed a small "Byron"—Urbnpop’s one-eyed monster mascot—that’s embroidery/patch and I will be using that design to recycle old and new clothes and hats with him on it.  I'm also working with my friends at Mindzai on some new prints, and my friends at Terminus Tees' on a piece of original art for their office. Plus, the road is calling and I can't say no to her. So, I will be traveling to comic conventions and festivals across the U.S.



Where will you show your work in 2013?


I'm booking shows all the way to September as of now, but some of my stops , are Orlando, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Philly, Puerto Rico, Baltimore and New York...for comic and tattoo conventions. I keep my website up-to-date with all of my appearances. As soon as I know 'em, and they're confirmed, I get them on the website. 

What advice would you like to give to budding artists?


Chris Hamer, Urbnpop
Believe in yourself and take risks…"FOLLOW YOUR BLISS"! Find your own voice and be original in what it is you do. It’s funny, as I'm typing this, I'm listening to a band called Boy Sets Fire and the lyrics "Wait, Wait, Wait for something to happen, you can't wait for something to happen" repeats in the background. That would be a good suggestion, don't wait for something to happen, make it happen! Live, create and believe in yourself...I've been doing this full-time for six years now, and six years ago, I was scared to death to do this, and my wife said, "make it work if you want to do it full-time, I support you, you just have to make it work," and now here I am, So as scary as it is, you just have to be willing to take that giant, scary leap and stick with it. 

Anything else you’d like to share with your fans?


Thank you! You are my reason for driving miles and miles away from my home, and as much as I miss my family and friends in Atlanta, I would not trade the moments we share for anything in the world. 

Artist Chris Hamer of Urbnpop
Artist Chris Hamer of Urbnpop
"Thank you," to Chris for making time to talk with wanderlust ATLANTA. Watch his website for opportunities to meet him around Atlanta, and elsewhere, and by all means check out his art!

Chris is a social guy and invites all fans to “friend” him on Facebook and follow him on his other Social Media channels. Here’s the info:

Website: 
www.urbnpop.com
Facebook: 
http://www.facebook.com/urbnpop
Twitter: @urbnpop
Etsy Store: 
http://www.etsy.com/shop/urbnpop

Let me leave you with a peek at Chris's first comic book, which he's debuting later this month...he allowed me to share the cover with you:


Pink Noise Comic Book, by Chris Hamer
Pink Noise comic book,
by Chris Hamer

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