Posted by Chris Sembower | January 9, 2012
Posterized is my ongoing, evolving illustration project focused around the Kansas City Chiefs.
The story of how the series started actually began back in 2004, right after I graduated high school. Art at that point had been a serious passion of mine globally. But around this time was the first point in my career that I actually had a passion for anything specific. I was heavily influenced by the work of concepts artists in the film and game industry such as Ryan Church and Feng Zhu and wanted to travel down the path of an illustration major in school, I had decided.
That proved to be a little more difficult than I had anticipated, when I received an email from the school over my Christmas vacation basically saying they were getting rid of the illustration program (actually, they merged it with the animation program. Different discussion). I was in shock and sort of handcuffed to Kansas City due to the rapidly declining health of my father. Instead of pursuing an illustration career elsewhere, I opted into the design program. A choice that I would make again. The plan was to learn the illustration side of it on my own using instructional material I found on the internet, while gathering formal design skills in school.
In my 3rd year of school, the other shoe fell and my dad succumbed to his twenty-five year long battle with multiple sclerosis. The ordeal caused a great deal of upheaval in my life, including depleting me of the drive and creative energy that I had always relied on to create my artwork. I dropped out of school, and spent the next 3 years in and out of it trying to figure out what I was doing. Where am I going? What does my future look like? Art has always been an interest, is that still “the plan?”
I had to scramble to figure out answers to those questions. I really wanted to continue down the illustration path that I had set out for when I entered school, but things were certainly stacked against me to say the least. At that time I had a print based, college design portfolio with virtually no trace of any traditional art skills. I knew this had to change if I wanted to keep going with this. I had to develop an entire illustration portfolio. I also knew that I had to figure out a topic. What would my subject matter me? It had to be something that I felt totally comfortable with. Something that I had a passion for and would motivate me instead of making me dig for motivation.
Around this time I started the first few Chiefs sketches that I ever did. They were for a blog with a friend at the time and were more like political cartoons than the paintings that they are today. Gradually they moved from pencil to computer and before you know it I was illustrating Chiefs paintings on a regular basis. They are done in a series of steps. First there is a sketch, where I lay out the basic composition and movement of the piece. That is followed by a value study that helps me determine how the eye moves from object to object, as well as depth of field and space in general. The next step is the color phase, followed by detailing and a technique I developed that I call Global Dodge.
I could tell very quickly that there was a demand for what I was doing, I just had to figure out a way that everyone could enjoy them, A) without selling them (NFL copyrights are nothing to mess with!), and B) without people having to go to my website just to look at them. Desktop wallpapers seemed like the natural solution. Especially with the mobile boom occurring.
My approach in the paintings is to drop you into a situation or moment that you rarely get from a photo. A unique point of view, moment, or composition, coupled with dramatic lighting and atmosphere. I’ve always thought of these as romantic paintings, to be honest. A great deal of my style is derived from romantic painters, specifically some of the Hudson River School painters like Thomas Cole. He was a master of lighting and composition and had a real talent for manipulating the space in his paintings by creating pools of light, which he used to create separation and depth.
I thoroughly hope that you enjoy the series, as a fan of either art or sports.
Your thoughts and feedback are always appreciated!