Christophe Roberts is cut from a different type of spectacular mold. His art evokes power and raw energy from the inner animal in all of us. He not only works in multiple mediums, but he excels in them all. What drew me to Christophe’s art will be the same thing that binds us as humans: taking potential waste and turning it into something beautiful. Now, this is the power of potential fulfilled. This is a movement. It got me thinking: What are we capable of as a human race? What can we achieve while here on this Earth?
Well, Christophe has been achieving quite a bit lately, including creating an extremely dope installation at the Southwest corner of State and Adams downtown, designing much of the interior for the second store opening of AKIN, and generally just kicking ass and taking names on a regular.
Gozamos caught up with him at the aforementioned site downtown, caught a bite, and rapped on and on. Here’s how it went:
Tell us about Loop Alliance/Pop-Up Art Loop and your piece here at State and Adams.
Loop Alliance is an organization that takes old storefronts, old buildings that are condemned, and they turn them into art galleries which is cool. Michael Perry is the Director of that spot. They have about 30 spots here in Chicago, and that is the biggest one they have. There was another artist that was working with them, and he said to me, “Man, you should try this out,” and they really loved my stuff, and they gave me that slot. And I just wanted to show them a little bit of all my styles in a display. Show the painting side, show the design side, show the interior side, show the conglomerate of me as an artist. Because that’s what I am: I’m a mixture of all the disciplines that I’ve learned and work with now, you know what I mean?
Sooooo, with your installation being displayed at this busy intersection, do you fear that it could cause car accidents with the sheer awesomeness of the display?
(Laughs) I wish. That would be awesome if a car just crashed through the window. That shit would be dope as hell. You know what? I get alot of emails from random people walking to work, and that’s the most awesome part about it, people embracing it and liking it.
Tell us about your collaboration with AKIN.
AKIN’s just a cool spot that came at me with some, “We really love what you’re doing. We want you to just get involved with our movement, our designs, the choices we make.” So that’s how that relationship started. They saw my sculptures, and then they saw some of my graphic work. We just had a really good relationship. AKIN’s a cool spot. They’re showing me alot of love.
Where do the shoeboxes come from for your sculptures?
They’re mine, they come from alot of different store owners, my man at AKIN has been supplying me with most of the boxes, and then I hooked up with a warehouse that does alot of distribution in Chicago.
You’re quite the well traveled artist. How are you influenced by Chicago, The Bahamas, Europe, and the other places you’ve visited?
Chicago was the birthplace of me as an artist, because my aunt ran alot of the city’s art programs, so I got to do alot of that stuff for free growing up, so through that I learned so much, just soaked up so much. In terms of travel, Europe was a big step for me. They embrace the arts on a higher level than us, their treatment of design. I lived and went to school in Oxford, and they have some shit in the museum from Leonardo, some sketches of dragons and shit like that on the sly. And I got to go and learn a combination of things there, I got to go back to traditional styles, Renaissance Period, and it was really just a strong influence on my work. In a graphic sense, I learned so much. I learned that simple is better.
Tell our readers about your blog, The Filth.
Everybody that knows me knows I say the word filthy about 90 times a day. I’m the worst blogger in the world, and I’m trying to get better at it. I’ll draw something in April, and it won’t go up until June, but it’s a way for me to get out personal progress I’m working on without having to update my website everyday. That takes too long.
What are your feelings on the relationship between sports and the arts?
The biggest relationship is that art, music, and design are ways for major companies like Nike, Adidas to market these products and make them genuine, make them more than a product. When you add artistic influence, it makes people want to invest more into it. Maybe Nike will sponsor me like an athlete…you know? With a company that doesn’t really get a chance to promote recycling because they’re such a big dog, for them to be able to not only promote that but also show the inner beast that resides in every athlete to work hard, practice everyday, to do shit with 2 broken fingers, that animal instinct that gets you through the day, the work day, everything. That’s kind of how I relate to it. This grind I’m on right now is just straight grinding. I don’t have time for alot of normal stuff right now. I’m not sleeping alot. I’m just straight hunting and gathering, putting it back out there, and trying to build my brand. That’s all it’s really about right now.
Who are your favorite athletes of all-time?
I love Michael Jordan (We digress into a long discussion on current NBA vs. Jordan, The Bulls, etc.). Muhammed Ali is in the Top 5 too. He is so versatile, he was part of a movement. I love athletes that get into that.
Who are your favorite artists?
My favorite artists stretch across a huge range. From Jacob Lawrence to my studio mate, Hebru Brantley to my dude who did the Gorillaz. Alot of well-known cats too: the Dalis, the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts, all that stuff I had to learn, Leonardos. That’s kind of what I based my style on, the many disciplines. Philosophers, designers, artists, painters, sculptors, Renaissance Men. The Harlem Renaissance, Billie Holliday, I look up to alot of people, Todd McFarlane the great comic book artist. My list goes on!
Who or what inspires you?
Usually people in the same field as me. Music really inspires me. Sometimes it takes the perfect song to get through a terrible day. So many times I’ve been broke, just ready to give up, and the right song comes on and they’re struggling. You hear about their struggle, and it just pushes you…because they’re like, “Fuck it. This is where I was. This is where I’m at.” It just shows you that your hunger is there. Moving at the same speed as a Kanye, a De La Soul, as an MF Doom, as a person constantly putting out projects and working really hard, you’re going to see results. Those are the people that inspire me.
If you could be any creature in the Animal Kingdom, what would you be and why?
A Grizzly Bear…or a Great White Shark. (Terry: How about a hybrid of the 2?) That would be dope! I have to paint that! That was the toughest question you asked me! I’d have to go with the Grizzly. (He thinks for awhile) No, it would have to be the shark, because I’ve been fascinated with sharks since I was a shorty. The Grizzly came later. I’ve been intensely fascinated with the shark since I was little. I like how stealth they are. I like their shape, how aerodynamic they are. Alot of our innovations and inventions are based off of nature and streamlined off of things like that. I like the sheer power the shark has, but how intimidating it is with just a closed mouth, a stare.
How can our readers keep current on what you’re up to?
My whack ass blog @ ChristopheRoberts.com. I do update it when I can. My rep, Lyons Wier Gallery. You’ll hear about me, because I stay in the streets. I do all the street festivals during the summer. I have a clothing line called Cicada. I have a line coming out called Master Blaster with Hebru. So that’s all coming out this summer. On top of that, christophe312 on twitter. That’s the best way to get what I’m doing now.