Interview: Frank Chimero

Die Illustrationen von Frank Chimero sind genau das, was ich zum Anfang des Sommers brauche: bunt, knallig, von einem feinen Humor durchzogen und garniert mit schönem Retro-Feeling. Ganz besonders interessant: die Reihe The States, in der Chimero nach und nach die US-Amerikanischen Bundesstaaten durchgeht und zu Objekten morpht.

The Past

I started drawing when I was a kid and never stopped.

Diskursdisko: Hi Frank. To start things off, what’s your background? When did you start painting?

Frank Chimero: I started drawing when I was a kid and never stopped. In high school, that changed to design making concert flyers and album packaging and tshirts for friends bands. That started my affinity with design, and it hasn’t stopped since.


The Art

It’s been a natural development, really, and I’m still working on it.

walrus-robotDiskursdisko: How do you mainly produce your art? Do you have a system or method that you adhere to?

Frank Chimero: Most of the work is digital, but they begin with lots of sketching and searching for the right idea. The main system is to come up with lots of ideas, then narrow them down to the good ones, work on the good ones and try to make them great.

Diskursdisko: What inspires you?

Frank Chimero: Everyone gets asked this question, and most everyone has the same answer. But here’s mine: Oh, you know. Just everything in my day-to-day life and the people that surround me. The grocery store, walking down the sidewalk, the leaves on the trees, that one article I read in the New Yorker last week, that one album by that one band, and a conversation I had with a friend yesterday at that one place. Inspiration is all around me, and I try my best to be receptive to it.

Diskursdisko: Your artwork mostly has a retro vibe to it, while still feeling modern – how did you develop this style?

Frank Chimero: I worked on the style like I would a client: I thought about the objectives and then decided on what visual form would best communicate it. I wanted to be direct, clear, warm, concise and idea-driven. So that leads to the simplicity. And I’ve always been personally drawn to flat colors and work from the retro era, so I copied a bit from that. It’s been a natural development, really, and I’m still working on it.

Diskursdisko: Can you tell us some more about your ongoing project ‘ the states’ – how is it coming along?

Frank Chimero: I kind of work on it as I get the time. It has to find it’s way through the paying work, but I’d say it’s coming along very nicely. It receded into the background for several months, but I feel like I’m back at it and the recent states are some of my favorites, which is encouraging.


Diskursdisko: When working for clients like magazines or companies, how do you keep up the balance between clients’ wishes and concepts and your own need to produce art? Do you feel there actually is any difference between “commercial” artwork and other art?

awesomebots1Frank Chimero: You know, I haven’t really had any conflicts. One of the benefits of the magazines I work for is that they have tight turnarounds, so they don’t really have the time to be very restrictive or controlling over the work that they hire me to do. I’m not even sure that they’d want to be. I’ve been fortunate so far in that I’ve been really happy with the work I’ve produced for my clients, and I haven’t made any unnecessary compromises that hurt the end product. Is there a difference between commercial artwork and other art? Probably for other people, but for me, I think the process is very similar, because both have communication as a primary goal.

Diskursdisko: Next to your design work, you also teach at Missouri State University. Do you feel this has affected your work? Do you find inspiration for new projects whilst teaching?

Frank Chimero: Yes! My students are great. I try to keep things fresh in the classroom by giving them assignments that I’m not exactly sure how I would solve them. Things seem to go much better if we’re all learning things together. They give me an enormous amount of insight, and make me consider things in a new way. I have the habits I’ve developed, and it’s nice to have someone remind you that it doesn’t have to be that way. That difference is very inspiring.

The Web

The state of California picture was the first time I really felt like I “owned” my own work.


Diskursdisko: You’ve obviously got the website at, any other presences on the web you’d like to publicize? Social networking?

Frank Chimero: I’m on Flickr and Twitter. I also do some writing for Thinking for a Living and run a Q&A website with my buddy Ben Barry at Questionable Characters.

Diskursdisko: As you use the internet to showcase your art, are there any other websites you feel have influenced you, opened your mind or shown you new ways of creating art?

Frank Chimero: I really love GrainEdit. It’s my favorite website on the internet. Also, my buddy Ward Jenkins runs a Flickr pool called The Retro Kid that I find myself consistently coming back to.

Diskursdisko: Of all the work you’ve created, or at least the ones showcased on your website, can you name a couple that you have a special love for or connection to?

Frank Chimero: The Jailbirds animation video for Good Magazine is special because it’s the first time I’ve worked with animation. It gave me some important insight about the potential of narrative in my work. Also, the state California was the first time I really felt like I “owned” my own work.


The Future

I feel like I’m just getting started on this path…

Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?

Frank Chimero: I’d like to explore more with narrative and animation. But for right now, I feel like I’m just getting started on this path and I’d like to keep walking it to see how much potential it has.

Diskursdisko: Frank, many thanks for the interview.


Vincent Wilkie hat diesen tollen Beitrag verfasst. In seiner Freizeit ist er Musiker, Webdesigner und DJ.

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