Artist Q&A - Chris Ross Williamson

Artist Q&A - Chris Ross Williamson

Do you prefer to create out-and-about, or in the studio?

In the old days I would prefer to be out-and-about, because it forces you (this is sketching) to ‘look’ more, I think. But with commercial art there has to be an element of need to get things done fairly quickly. So, an element of both really. Certainly, now, I prefer working in the studio from photos and sketches. I certainly do a lot of photography and I do keep sketchbooks. I’m not ashamed of using photo reference. My feeling is that most of the old masters would have used photography if they could. The lack of it made for better drawing.

What inspires you to create?

I've been interested in art for as long as I can remember. I think it was Cole Porter who said the only inspiration he needed was his agent/director on the phone. Coming from a graphic design background, I know what he means. Painting for galleries is different in the fact you are more in control of your own time. There is normally a deadline (like a show opening) but to an extent, you can still work at your own pace. I try not to deliver work I’m unhappy with.

Who are your biggest artistic influences?

When I was young, I remember my Dad ordering a number of good quality Time Life books. I used to pore over them of an evening. Rembrandt, Vermeer, The Impressionists, Van Gogh. The one I picked up again and again was Van Gogh. I liked the way he could 'draw with paint'. Plus he was a brilliant colourist. When I went to art college, my outlook evolved, and my new heroes were people like Ralph Steadman, Gerald Scarfe & Grey Jolliffe. (I erred toward the more 'cartoony' side of things). More recently I have been inspired by artists such as David Shrigley, Sam Toft & Gary Bunt.

Where are you from, and does that influence your work?

I was born in Croydon, but I don’t remember much about it. Most of my formative years were growing up in Luton. (My Dad worked for Vauxhall for 20+ years). I don’t think Luton really affected my work (in the same way as say, Salford inspired Lowry), but it's difficult to say really. I guess we are all the product of our environment. One thing I do know, is that I always wanted to live and work near the sea. I can’t really explain it. My Mum was Danish so maybe there’s some Viking in me or something! My studio is now on the Suffolk coast, and I can hear the sea as I write this. I find it majestic and soothing. 

If you could paint anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Anywhere sunny would be nice. New Zealand maybe? Bahamas or the Caribbean. But I’m a bit older now and my wanderlust has waned. I can honestly say that I’m happy where I am, and I don’t envisage that changing anytime soon. Everything I need is here.

Check out Chris's collection of limited edition prints on our online gallery.

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