Meet Christopher Uminga! I first saw Chris’ work at SDCC when Angie literally pulled me over to his booth because she knew just how much his work fit my style. I was immediately drawn (no pun intended) to his look because it was absolutely creepy in the best way. I knew I had to have a piece (or a few) for my home, which is saying a lot because, up until then, I hadn’t ever found anything that I just HAD to have at any convention. I bought pieces for a very reasonable price and I started following him on Instagram and Facebook. I knew his work would be perfect for this time of year! So let’s get to know Chris and some of his work!
How did you get started?
Like so many other artists, I’ve been drawing my whole life. My first paying job was in college doing artwork for local bands. At the time being a professional artist was a pipe dream. That was until I started posting on Deviantart, and pursuing group art shows at galleries. I was lucky early on because I got to do a lot of gallery shows and that helped me figure out my style. Working in comics and illustrating was something I always wanted to do, I just had no clue on how to go about getting work. Then one day my friend Matt and I set up at a Comic Con in Artist Alley and my work got a pretty good response, and the rest is history.
Your look is pretty unique, how did you come up with your aesthetic?
My style is something I’ve worked very hard on…going on 12 years. It’s something that keeps evolving with every piece after every show/convention. I’m not sure exactly where it came from, but I knew I wanted to draw/ paint differently than the other artist I saw in comics. I would read magazines like Juxtapoz and High Fructose and I’d see this amazing work that I found myself identifying more with then the art I would see in comics. My personal work looked nothing like what I was putting out illustration wise, so one day I said screw it I’m going to draw Batman the way I want to draw him, like the way I’d sketched him out hundred times. I took ideas I learned from sculptors, graffiti artist, animators and I slowly started introducing those elements into my work. I think having a “non-house” style has sometimes hurt me getting work in mainstream comics. I hear “we love your work, but we don’t know what to do with you “a lot. But I’m very lucky that I’ve gotten to work for some pretty amazing companies. Like if you told me a few years ago that drawing the way I do I would someday be getting paid by Disney, I’d tell you you’re crazy.
Who is your favorite movie monster? Mine is Freddy Krueger!
Freddy is awesome. I love the classic Universal Monsters. Frankenstein is my personal favorite monster, but I’m also a HUGE Friday the 13th fan. Growing up I can’t tell you how many times I watched the Lost Boys or Monster Squad. My buddy and I just went a party dressed as the Frog brothers. I wish Santa Carla was a real place.
You draw some pretty freaky things (which I looove), does anything scare you?
A lot of things scare me, but I love being scared. I enjoy finding haunted places and doing tours with hopes of running into a ghost. In fact I got to visit the Stanley Hotel in Colorado this year, that’s the hotel that inspired the Shining and finally getting to walk around that building and see what inspired Stephen King to write that book was awesome. I also don’t enjoy flying very much, I’m a nervous flyer; flying scares me.
I first saw your work at SDCC, do you work a lot of conventions?
I do. I’m lucky that I get to travel to a lot of conventions with my friends who are artists themselves; it makes being away from home a lot easier. Sometimes it’s tough to find balance between travel and finding time to work and it can be stressful, but then I remind myself that I get to travel the country and see amazing things with my friends and that makes everything better.
Do you ever get to visit conventions as an attendee?
Sadly, no I don’t. There are two I really want to hit up. CTN is the first; I hear nothing but amazing things about that convention. The other, of course, is Star Wars Celebration. Anything Star Wars and I’m there. Although when I do Shows like NYCC or SDCC I geek out hard and wander around the show floor in awe.
What is your favorite con story? I’m sure you’ve met some interesting people!
Yikes… I just had a flash flood of memories. I’ve met some pretty interesting people over the years. There is a guy in a Star Trek Uniform with a dog puppet I met at Boston Comic Con that is pretty legendary amongst my group of friends. He will be with us forever.
The other great thing about conventions is I’ve met my closest friends at conventions, the people I talk to everyday, and the people I get to experience this amazing ride with.
Do you remember what got you into horror movies and TV shows? BTW, I love the pictures where you take regular characters and make them creepy. So great.
Thank you so much. When I was little I think my first introduction into the world of creepy was watching old Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents reruns on TV with my sisters. Growing up it wasn’t Lion King or animated movies; for us it was Pin Head, Pennywise and Michael Myers. We just loved being scared.
Are you taking any commissions?
Yes I am, I love doing commissions at home because I get some pretty awesome requests; things I wouldn’t normally get asked to draw at conventions. If anyone is interested, please contact Albert Moy at Albertmoy@aol.com (yes he still uses an AOL account)
Where can people find you?
All photos via artist