We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Trueman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk has always been a part of building a career in the arts. In undergrad at the San Francisco Art Institute my apartment building burned down and with limited resources I couldn’t find a place to live so I slept at the school and a friends houses for three months until finally finding a spot, I was living day to day and gave everything up to make art. Moving to Claremont to attend graduate school was another leap of faith, you aren’t looking at an obvious career path after leaving school and there was little to no guarantee of financial stability. Around 2014 with a young child and second around the corner I decided to cut my teaching from three classes a semester down to one in order to focus on my studio with the gamble that I would be able to sell enough artwork to make up for the loss of income from teaching less. In each of these cases and many, many more there is always a calculation of risk vs. reward. Perhaps through luck or hard work or hard headed perseverance these have all turned out to be good choices, but at each step of the way I acknowledge that failure could have come with severe impact not only to myself but also to the well being of my family.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an artist, I make abstract paintings which I show around the US and abroad. It takes a long time to build a base of support when you are an artist, a network of gallery partners, a collector base and an audience. It isn’t something that happens overnight. I think only in retrospect can you see the progress that you have slowly made over the years. It hasn’t been an easy path and there have been many challenges and it is often very difficult to navigate. If I had advice to give to a younger artist or to even remind myself of it would be that Art is a social industry. You could be supremely talented and hide in your studio and get nowhere, get out there, show up, make friends and be generous with them. Art is more of a team sport than people acknowledge and I am grateful for the peers and friends that have helped me along the way.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have so many favorite spots to visit, I’m a foodie and LA and area is so big so it depends on which part of LA I am in. Often due to art related outings I end up in Culver City, Downtown or Hollywood. In Culver City I think the Oaxacan food at EK Valley is great or I head to Delicious Pizza in West Adams. When in Downtown LA for casual food, I often hit Guerilla Tacos, Wurstekuche for killer sausage and fries, Sixth+Mill for pizza, Little Bear for burgers and cocktails. If I’m going to dinner in the area I really like The Factory Kitchen, Brera restaurant, Bestia and Faith & Flower. In Hollywood I’m a big fan of Osteria La Buca and Kali Restaurant. When I’m not out grabbing a bite I love heading to the galleries in Culver City and Downtown LA to see shows or over to LACMA, MOCA or the Getty.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
To be an artist you really need a lot of support, a few sales here and there aren’t going to fund your education your studio, your living. I am very fortunate to have very supportive family, friends, mentors and gallerists. My wife who has by now seen thousands of concerned faces when telling people what I do for a living deserves a lot of credit. In the midst of the most difficult time of my life, when I was displaced due to my apartment burning down I met a friend who has had the most significant impact on my success. I was sleeping at the San Francisco Art Institute and when people began coming around each morning I would get up, grab a coffee and start painting. I had nowhere else to be and no where to go so I painted. There was a woman who would come into the studio early to paint as well and each morning I would be there working. One day she said to me “every morning I come to school to work in the studios while it is quiet and there you are working”, I didn’t tell her it was because I had slept there. We became friends and she began to purchase my work. Years later when I was looking into graduate schools she offered to pay for my graduate school education. To be able to go to school and know that I wouldn’t be graduating with a mountain of debt was an enormous relief. To this day she continues to support my work and has collected from every period of work that I have made. She is a true patron and her impact on my career has been immeasurable.