Artist Interview with Chris Malidore

In honor of the Lindsay Schopfer 2020 Fan Art Contest, I’m interviewing professional artists about their art and careers. Be sure to check out the other interview I did this month with Maura Moffat!

A little about Chris Malidore: Chris Malidore is an illustrator with clients behind him such as Wizards of The Coast, Fantasy Flight Games, Pinnacle Entertainment Group, 78 Tarot, a whole bunch of punk and metal album covers, various small press book covers, and so much more. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with fellow artist and lovely girlfriend, Delphine Levesque Demers. He is surrounded by pets, dreams of hostile penguins, and a whole lot of loud music.

Describe the moment when you first thought seriously of creating art professionally.

It’s funny because there was never an “AHA” moment. It was a very gradual process for me. Around the time I escaped the clutches of High School, I was really struggling to find a job that I could excel at… let alone find. I was feeling fairly unprepared for the world, and as a person who leaned into the depression spectrum rather hard, drawing ate up whatever spare time there might be to try and deal with that internal restlessness. Eventually I just started sending my portfolio to groups in the hopes of making a few dollars.

I dare say it snowballed a bit from there.

Who are your favorite artists? Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by a LOT of artists… especially now. I love so much art in the world… and I think it’s good to cultivate a mindspace of finding inspiration anywhere you can. That helps one keep afloat in a creative profession where you need to find inertia and routine… if you wait for inspiration you’re treading in a very inconsistent water. So being able to find it anywhere is valuable.

BUT, in the beginning those 90’s D&D artists were the coolest thing to ever hit paper for me. Artists like Todd Lockwood, Brom, Clyde Caldwell, Keith Parkinson…. and even back through their roots, like the great Frazetta, and Maxfield Parrish…. well, those gave me a lot of fuel. They really helped me find that starting voice.

What’s your favorite color to use in your art?

I’m not certain I have one that I consciously choose. I just try and equate color to mood. Since I cut my teeth on horror art for a long time for publishers… well, those potent purples and blues became pretty strong for me for a long time. I was always more interested in the greyscale value range under the color more than the specific color.

When you doodle, what’s your favorite subject?

I like to explore little bits of mythology. A small idea on an old idea I read about turns into a big thing and before you know it I’ve got like…. five large illustrations I want to do and have no time for.

I happen to know that you’re also a musician. What role (if any) do you think music plays in your visual art?

I’ve maintained for awhile that I’m not just an illustrator. Or I’m not just a musician… I’m a creator. I love to make things. To me it’s from the same place, this urge to let the mind be vaster than it was before. If that influences others that’s great, but mostly I just like to see what I know as my own limits expanded from where they were before.

I get delighted by that whole process. And it’s all about story telling out of thin air. Improvisational jazz for me is like plotting out a book. Or performing metal with my band is like tightening up some dramatic composition for a book…. it’s about selling a FEELING. And that is not only fun to create, but lovely to see resonate in others as you work.

What’s the craziest deadline/commission you ever completed, and how’d you get it done?

I have two answers.

So when I really was trying to get my name out there as a dependable artist I’d agree to ANY time frame I could. You need that art 3 hours ago? I’m your dude. Not only did I develop fantastic caffeine habits that probably make doctors cringe, I also learned how to work tight deadlines. Because the thing is, sometimes an artist doesn’t work out, and a publisher has to last minute their way through a problem. So, being that guy makes you valuable. I used to take on a gig, have it done  before the Art Director could wake up the next day, and then I’d sleep for two days…. I later began distancing from this though, so that I could tighten up on quality over quantity. But at the time it was a good way to get known.

And then when I was doing album covers, I got to do this thrash punk album cover full of gasmask wearing rabbits DESTROYING zombies with the power of their music. It was the epitome of the word “epic”. I can’t help but smile at it. Even now, I try to take on the weirdest projects I can because they are pure creativity fuel. Let me try and show your audience something NEW… something they wouldn’t have ever thought of…. let me help you put that in their brain…. it’s great fun.

What advice would you give to self-published authors looking to hire an artist to do their book cover?

Don’t cut corners with cost. I know, money is a big issue for a lot in the creative field, but honestly if you can create a budget that allows an artist to spend REAL time getting all the little pieces together, and to where they aren’t rushing…. you can get something incredibly potent for your marketing. More times than I care to admit, I had to rush a project because I just couldn’t spend enough time something…. and that quality can suffer for it. It’s a labor of love… but it is also business.

Also: Please use contracts. Protects everyone involved.

From our previous discussions, I know that you’re something of a Keltin Moore fan. What’s something from one of his adventures that you would love to try drawing one day?

There’s this gut reaction that the climax scene of Book 1 would be marvelous to play with. I think if I could arrange a composition around that sheer desperation that is written in there as they go through “the final hunt” so to speak…. man that could be a fun chance. BUT… there’s a lot of great moments. I think any scene where you’re finding the emotion and able to project it visually, all of the determination and inner fortitude to keep enduring… that’s the human spirit at its best and a great thing to paint or draw with. But gut reaction? Always go for the big one that’ll take far too long to paint and drive you just a little crazy. It’s half the fun!

We’re currently in the midst of the Lindsay Schopfer 2020 Fan Art Contest. What advice can you give fans as they prepare their pieces for submission?

I always tell any artist, if you can create from that place where you originally emotionally connected with a thing…. you’re in the right spot. That’s the spot where passion begins…. and if you study that thing, and put some love in to it, you’ll be able to share it with all of us. So for me, if I were doing this for a license, I try to think of that point in the story where I wanted to literally know that character, where I was blown away by their courage or strength or tenacity. And I try and show that feeling on the page as a scene. Show us what inspired you to read more. Make US want to read more through it.

What’s something you still hope to accomplish in your artistic career?

I’m looking forward to publishing my graphic novel, which is in the middle of some overhaul. It’s called Penguin Lost…. and it’s basically a love letter to the pulp science fiction world. It’s sort of my version of that space explorer who gets stranded on some alien world, and fights to survive. But that said, it’s not something that I’m grinding away on relentlessly through the midnight hours… it’ll get done when it’s ready.

I’m just about at the two decade mark of this career (good lord when did that happen?!)…. I’ve done a lot of the things I want to do. So for now I’m sort of letting my work evolve to the environment around it and take on the life it needs with the projects that are offered. I like letting it do what it needs more than what I need at the moment. This is not a gentle industry, and if you keep spawning upstream for too long without a rest, you burn out pretty hard. So… this is my “lets rest” moment while I focus on my family, and some music, and so on. I’m hardly bored no matter what!

Here’s your chance for a little shameless self-promotion! Tell us where we can find you and your artwork! 

I can be found all over, but the best places are here:

A big shout-out to the wonderful members of my Writers Community:

Christine Herbert, Michele Cacano, Elony, Jessica Mormon, Naltath, and Jo Sal.

If you’d like to learn more about my Writers Community, check out the following link:

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