Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Chris Crites (Seattle) painted his first four mug shots in acrylic on paper bag in 1999. Seriously focusing on the subject matter of arrest photographs since 2002, he has developed and refined his brightly colored, limited palette style. Adding cultural icons, musicians, commissioned portraiture, mushroom clouds, nudes, and firearms to his body of work, Chris has shown and been published across the United States and Europe. Having both graphic design and art degrees, he does web content management work as well as art and design for local musicians. He is also an independent curator and lives with his wife and cats. In 2013, he was named a Pratt Fine Arts Center's Artist in Residence. Chris won a 2008 PONCHO Artistic Merit Award.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

1996 was when I first started working with mugshot photographs as my subject matter. It began with large-scale drawings; in 1999 I painted my first four in five colors on paper bags. Having always been fascinated by history, these intimate portraits of people who had been caught, justly or not, were wonderful because they had such amazing expressions. Not knowing the full story behind each face made it more exciting for me, wondering what drove these people to this point in their lives when they ended up in front of a police photographer. Generally working with images from the 1890s to 1950s, I have continued my experiment with color and refined my technique in painting these portraits in five colors or less.

In 2005 I quit my job to pursue art full time. Participating in Artist Trust’s EDGE Program in 2006 was perfect timing as it gave me added confidence that I had made the right decision. EDGE not only confirmed my planned direction but provided me with the tools and knowledge to continue on that path in a much more professional manner. The one-week intensive at Centrum was intense! But it really seemed like an art university, yet better than school as it was packed with real-world information I could use. The variety of topics and speakers kept it exciting and constantly pertinent. The discussions on each topic with the other artists brought up so many great ideas and experiences you don’t get in many other settings. I have been able to incorporate so much of the information I received into my own practice. The binder of information I came away with is still a reference I go to often and share. I didn’t want EDGE to end, and to be honest, would go again.

Before I went to EDGE, artists I knew and respected often asked if I knew about it. They gave it such high praise that I knew it had to be special. Now I am one of those artists that, when speaking with other artists, ask, “Have you heard of the EDGE Program?” I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Chris Crites