A Canadian raised in Peru, Chris Dyer is an artist who is identifiable in all his facets: from his long, dreadlocked hair to his tattoos, to the fine-tipped brushes he uses to fill in the spaces of his remarkably detailed art pieces. Everything he touches reverberates with color, a higher energy and positive vibration that’s immersive and hypnotic to the viewer. This is essentially his mandate— he examines the intricate relationships between art and spirituality, and integrates cultural symbols into his paintings. He’s well-travelled, uninhibited, a rule breaker (and one-time member of a street gang) and an all-around happy dude.
DZ: You have a very specific aesthetic (colourful, psychedelic)— how did it develop?
CD: I guess it started in my 80’s childhood where everything had such rad colour combinations. From action figures, to records/cassettes, to surf clothing, to skate graphics, to video games, all influenced me. Later in life I got to experience psychedelics, and that too added much energy via colour to my expressions. The trick isn’t throwing a bunch of colours together, but knowing how they will get along, harmonize or contrast, so that it actually looks good.
DZ: Your work and your artist statements all reveal a very connected, spiritual connection to art and to the world— how/when did you develop this connection?
CD: Maybe it’s my human nature, but I have always had the need to be down with “God,” whatever that means. Maybe it’s a multi-life evolution. Through my art I want to express the oneness that should unite us and end our foolish self-destruction. So the connection was always there, but “plant teachers” like mushrooms and Ayahuasca have also taught me much [about spirituality]— and then meditation keeps that vibration going through the rest of my days.
DZ: For the uninitiated, do you see a difference between street art and graffiti?
CD: The way I see it it’s like the evolution of a movement that comes from the people. It started as a rebellious cry of the disempowered cultures. Those who felt the world didn’t care about them had to say “Hey! I also exist and am important.” That is why graffiti is all about the names of the individuals writing them at whatever level— tag, throw up, piece, blockbuster, etc. With street art, I feel it is less about the person or ego, and more about the collective.
DZ: How do you deal with the fact that often, your work may be “wiped off the wall” so to speak, after weeks of labour?
CD: That is hard sometimes. Building politics that kill my hard work sucks, but I have to remember that physical reality is impermanent by nature. Letting go is a big lesson, even if not easy. Artists should respect fellow artists, no matter what genre they fall in— oneness please.
DZ: You’ve painted on a variety of other canvasses (models, stereos, helmets, etc)— which project was the most fun/challenging for you?
CD: Something that was interesting to paint was this exploded grenade from the Vietnam war, that I picked up in Laos and mailed to myself. Since it had potentially killed or heavily injured people it was a very heavy thing to own, until I painted it and healed its destructive vibration.
DZ: You’ve managed to turn your art into a full-fledged art brand— tell us more about Positive Creations and its purpose. How did it come to be?
CD: “Positive Creations” is a description of everything I do with intention. As I started to get some press, I had businessmen approach me about doing a clothing brand. I’ve had to work with several different business partners over the years in order to find my perfect match, but I finally found my perfect equation for the brand and all those years of groundwork have served me to deliver a product that both my fans like and that makes me profit with not too much work.
DZ: You’ve also written a children’s book and graphic novel— aside from painting, are there any other artistic mediums you’d like you explore?
CD: This spring I am releasing a colouring book for adults along with San Francisco’s og publisher “Last Gasp”. Then the graphic novel “The Sunlight Chronicles,” is an illustrated journal that I’ve been hand writing/drawing since 2001. It’s another fun way of sharing my life with my followers. As for what mediums I’d like to tackle, I’d love to have more time to make sculptures, or even learn how to tattoo, but I don’t want to dig too many wells without striking water.
“If you want to live off your art, you have to grow some balls cause it’s an all or nothing kinda life, no half-stepping”
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