Ahhhhhh….I absolutely LOVE discovering new artists that, when I see their work for the first time, it makes me stop whatever I’m doing and I start delving into their portfolio. Such is the case with the ever so talented Chris Skinner of Skinner Creative from Sheffield, UK. (Is it just me or is the UK PACKED with talent? Raid 71 and Matt Ferguson both hail from the UK and Ferguson even LIVES IN Sheffield. Must be something in the PUBS over there that turns average folk into mega-talented artists. Note to self…go on a pub crawl in the UK!)
According to Chris’s website: “Chris Skinner is a Sheffield based freelance designer with over 12 years industry experience working across a variety of formats including interactive, broadcast, 2D/3D motion graphics, print & 2D/3D illustration.” The 12 years have treated him well as he boasts a impressive portfolio and has honed his craft to a whole new level.
The work that caught my eye and has been haunting my dreams is called Project X. Project X is a Batman themed motion graphic novel that involves his arch nemesis The Joker. I reached out to Chris as soon as I saw it and he was kind enough to share some info about himself as well as the project.
CHRIS: As true child of the eighties, born in ’78, I grew up influenced by the best cartoons and films, Transformers, Thundercats, Star Wars being some of my favorites. My parents where in the army when I was young and living in non-English speaking countries meant that there wasn’t much to watch on TV so I used to watch everything on VHS and watched far too many movies numerous times, which was great! It also meant that I did a lot of drawing to pass the time (as well as going to the beach of course)… Fast forward 20 odd years and I’d done Art & Design at College, an HND in 3D & Furniture Design and a BA (Hons) in Transportation Design.
Fast forward another 10 years and I’d worked at a games company designing spaceships, worked my way up to senior designer at an events management company, worked my way up to Head of Design at a games/multimedia company and worked in E-Learning before venturing out to work for myself, which I’ve been doing for nearly 3 years now and still enjoy the challenges it brings. There has always been a connection with the entertainment industry in my work whether it’s design and illustration for games or motion graphics for titles and logo animations.
CHRIS: This is such a hard question as there are so many great artists out there, established and people sharing work on forums. Just turning around and looking at my bookshelf I’ve got books on Alex Ross, Jim Lee, Mike Mignola, John Howe, Chris Moore to name a few but then I’ve got books on the art of Capcom, District 9, Star Wars, Posters of World War 2 and yes Batman… Got a great book called Bat-Manga! Which has loads of great images of how Batman was interpreted in Japan in the 60’s, worth checking out if you’re a Bat fan.
CHRIS: Hmmm, the official synopsis. It’s very simple at the moment, the Joker has gone too far and Batman has to find him and stop him. A typical day for old Bat-face! I started Project X because I just wanted to do a Batman project, he’s my favorite comic book character so the enthusiasm for the project was already there. Initially I thought I would do it as a comic book but the more I thought about ideas the more I wanted it to incorporate the skills I’ve learnt over the years, mainly 3D software and motion graphics.
I still need to do some tests for the final look of the video but work has been busy lately and Batman won’t pay my bills, I would still love to get it finished for this year. The response I’ve had to the artwork created so far has been amazing, around 11,000 views on Behance and loads of great comments, this has really inspired me to take this project to completion and not leave it half-finished like quite a few other projects on my hard drive.
Wait…what? You have unfinished stuff just… lying around? I cringe when I hear that! Get it up on your site! If fans respond, MOVE forward with it! You artists….always leaving stuff on the cutting room floor. I bet there are some gems in there. Where are you at with Phase 2 of Project X?
CHRIS: Phase 2 will be where I get stuck in and design everything, the visuals I’ve done so far have served well as a kind of style guide and have helped gain some interest in the project. My plans now are to strip back any mention of Batman and associated characters. There are a couple of reasons for this, the main one being that I don’t want to upset DC using their brand and the second is that I believe I could create a Batman story or image with no mention of Batman or any Bat symbols etc and people would still say ‘Hey that’s Batman’.
I have plans to change the Batman suit design quite a bit to put more of my own stamp onto it, some Bat fans will probably not like it but hopefully most will appreciate that it’s not a straight copy. Phase 2 will be the most intensive as I need to create all the characters, props and environments, one of the main reasons for giving the Joker’s goons masks to wear is so that I don’t have to create loads of different characters. This is also one of the reasons I’ve gone down the 3D route as once I have my character or environment set up I get multiple use out of it by posing the character differently or changing the lighting in the environment.
Where does Project X go from here?
CHRIS: When it’s finished I’m not sure where it will go, probably on a dusty back up drive under my desk… This first ‘pilot’ is a testing ground really, it will be short but hopefully high impact and cool. You never know if it turns out well and is well received perhaps I might look at starting a Kickstarter project and getting other people involved, that would be cool.
CHRIS: I did have some one off prints for sale that were part of a Heroes exhibition here in the UK, I have a few left so if anybody is interested feel free to get in touch. I’ve got plans to create some more poster/promotional type artwork so it might be that I put out some limited edition print runs. In the meantime people can download the images from various sites if they like as long as no one tries to make profit from them.
Be careful when you say that. Just ask fellow Poster Posse member Matt Ferguson about it. He is constantly asking sites to remove HIS work from their storefront because someone ELSE is trying to make a buck off it. What else are you currently working on?
CHRIS: For clients I’m working on some motion graphics projects which is keeping me busy but I’ve also been invited to participate in Poster Posse Project 4 which I’m really excited about. I’m hoping that knowing all the amazing artists that are involved will help me raise my game a bit… I’ve also been invited to create some poster artwork for an exhibition tie in with horror films here in the UK which is cool.
You will find your fellow Poster Posse members to be extremely supportive, enthusiastic and generous with their time. All you need to do is reach out to them and they will respond. That OR you could walk down the street and just meet Matt Ferguson at a pub. You decide. What would be your dream project?
CHRIS: I’d love to be involved in the design process of a major movie, whether designing vehicles, monsters or working on title designs. Doing a run of comic book covers would also be awesome I think.
CHRIS: I’ve not had a very good year for movie watching as I’ve not found much time with children, work and moving house etc. I’ve got a very long list of Blu Rays for someone to buy me for my Birthday. I would have to say Iron Man 3 at this time but will update you once I have those Blu rays…
CHRIS: For now I’m going to say Voltron: Defender Of The Universe but only because I had the toy as a kid and it was awesome!
I have to give Chris a MASSIVE THANK YOU for working with and providing us with a ton of amazing visual assets for our article. I say the more the better and Chris DEFINITELY nailed “the more” part of it. To learn more about all things Skinner Creative you can follow him via the following links: