Chris is an illustrator. He cycles a 1980s racer bike and he cycles it fast.
On his way to work, he swooshes past Drumcondra’s high trees, slaloms downhill through Dorset Street’s traffic, leaps over the Liffey, and finally keeps to the Quays until he arrives at his studio, on the top floor of a Dame Street building.
There, with high windows that overlook City Hall, Chris closes his eyes and replays his cycling trip as if he was reading a comic book. When he opens them, he goes to work and characters take shape faster than his hand and pen can keep up.
Chris’ characters will vary; depending on the weather, the traffic, and Chris’ mood. But always, they will want to explore and venture into the unknown.
In Chris’ first book (‘The Lonely Beast’), a monster that looks like a huggable black Christmas tree arrives on earth and – even though the humans are kind to him, feed him donuts, and invite him on talk shows – sets out to explore the world, hoping to find a friend that looks like him. Chris’ second book (‘the Great Explorer’ – to be published next February) has a similar theme: a young kid sets out on a mission to save his Dad who got stuck on the North Pole. Even in his near-scientific work for the Science Gallery in Trinity, where artists have created illustrations for each element in the periodic table, Chris has created adventurous purple characters that represent the element Xenon.
Chris’ latest work is a co-production with his girlfriend Cliona (whom we interviewed two weeks ago and who told us she gets more inspiration from cycling than Van Gogh got from sunflowers). Together, they filmed the music video for Lisa Hannigan’s new song ‘Safe Travels’. Chris and Cliona have created a video in a 1950s Irish setting, in which a person uses all modes of transport to get from East to West.
Cliona and Chris quickly agreed there should be a bike in that music video as well.
Now if only they could agree whether it should be a ladies bike, or a 1980s racer.