To gear up for his upcoming exhibition here at madelife, we wanted to sit down with local artist Chris Blume to learn more about his work and the inspiration behind the new show,
To start, thank you very much for allowing madelife to showcase your work. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Well, I’m excited to have my work up in Madelife! I’ve wanted to show in this space ever since I moved to Boulder four years ago. I would walk past the venue from my first apartment and saw the big open windows and knew I HAD to have some of my work up there. I moved from Chicago to Boulder to continue studying printmaking and to get my masters degree at CU Boulder. I now co-own and operate a printmaking studio in north Boulder called Flatiron Press. I also work as a full time screen printer… I kind of over commit sometimes.
What inspired the message of the exhibition?
I’ve always wanted to create a show based on the thematic line of a musical album. This show is titled “Our Demise to Be, We’re Not Listening” after a phrase used multiple times throughout an album from a metal band called Periphery. The album is heavily influenced by video games, and the fantasy relm of the end of days for us humans. I am so into trying to capture something that I can not explain. The feeling of the demise of the human. I brought old pieces and created new ones that explore this aesthetic.
You’re work uses industrial material such as wood, copper, repurposed paper, etc. Where do you usually find these types of materials and is there a purpose to the ones you choose?
If I could eat rusty metal I would. It reminds me of the city of Chicago. The city is so beautiful. Some people like the lake or the food. I am in love with the last traces of the American industrial revolution left in the city. These rusty pieces of metal and cast iron are a part of history that were around when the hand printing processes that I use in my artwork were still used. When I see rust, it brings me back to a time in my head that I wish I could have experienced. It is not as particular as it may seem, the actual object. It is more about me being able to create a story behind an object that has aesthetic history and I try to imagine where the object came from. Finding a piece of wood or metal that has been used by a human seems as if I have found a fossil. This conjures the images that I put into my work.
What types of works do you collect?
If you asked my wife she would say that I collect wrappers and receipts in my pockets. If you asked me I would say I collect scraps of paper with hopes to use it one day. If you looked into my flat files you would see that this paper never sees the light of day again. You may find this funny, but I feel like one day, when the world turns to shit, glass, paper, and wood are going to be worth more than gold or diamonds. This is sort of “tin foil hat” of me but I cant help myself.
On your website, you describe your work as a “manifestation of the subconscious”…”a waking dream”. In what ways do you think that your subconscious expresses itself in your pieces?
First, I believe the closest action to the waking dream is drawing. I also feel that the waking dream is closest to the subconscious. That thinking but not thinking moment that is extremely hard to pinpoint. So when I begin to draw, it is not pre-meditated. I don’t say “Well, I’ve researched enough, now I’m going to create”. I begin to create in spontaneous moments and then yes, I polish the work and transfer to a plate or use the sketch as an outline for painting. Whatever it is it came from not thinking too much. I feel that a lot of art is over thought and begins to turn into a research paper. If that’s your thing, then so be it. It just isn’t mine.
On top of being an artist, you also co-founded Flatiron Press here in Boulder. For those unfamiliar, would you describe what Flatiron Press does and what inspired you and fellow artists, Sam Cikauskas and Renate Mairie, to create it?
Printmaking is a very unique art form in the sense that you not only make your own work from it, but you can make prints for other artists that don’t wish to spend the time to figure out the tricks. It takes lots and lots of practice and patience to be able to print another artist’s work. It’s a very delicate relationship between artist and printer. You also learn a lot from the artist you are working for. You see some very unique approaches to creating and it teaches you a lot about yourself.
I really wanted to have my own space to create prints and be able to help other artists make prints. Printmaking equipment is extremely expensive, heavy, and big. So, printmakers usually combine forces and create a studio with everything that they have collected over the years and boom, you have a printing studio. Sam Cikauskas, Renate Marie, and I opened up Flatiron Press for this very reason. Because we love printing and need to continue our craft.
As an artist with a lot on his plate, how do you stay passionate?
There is no question that I need to create images. I get really, really cranky when I can’t draw or print. I’m not fun to be around when that happens. It’s a necessity for me and part of who I am.
What advice would you give someone looking to become involved in printmaking?
If you take a class at a university or a private print studio, ask a million questions and go home and do your own research. Printmakers are 99% for certain going to talk your ear off about printing if you ask them. But they have been made fun of for liking printing so much that they don’t say much unless you ask. Be prepared for information overload. After you have some information do your own research! No one will help you be who you want to be besides yourself.
Also, there are many print shops that will let you do some dirty work (mop floors, clean screens, go on coffee runs) in exchange for training and press time. Press time is key to become a printmaker.
Finally, we’re pretty much the most sarcastic group of nerds. Lookout!
So what’s next for Chris Blume?
There are a lot of projects coming up for me. The next big one that I’m excited for is printing for a great friend and artist Kevin Falco. We will be printing a large edition of screen prints for him. I’m really excited for Kevin to be in the studio. He has worked for many established artists himself being a printmaker. It’s great to print for someone who has done so much in the industry and I feel honored to give back to him.
Thank you so much Chris! We cannot wait for the opening of the show! To learn more about the exhibition click here.