A Chat with Christopher King

What made you decide to become a coloring book artist?

Everyone knows somebody, if not directly yourself, who is suffering from stress, anxiety, depression or some other diagnose-able form of mind disorder. When members of my family were suffering, including myself, I realized that the thing which brought me the most serenity, calm and peace was to just draw. Something which did not take too long and which was easy to do and rewarding for me.  Usually after exercising, which worked well for me. I wanted to share this mind space and sense of clarity and calm with people, so by combining my art with mindful themes, creating colouring books was an obvious choice. It was only when I had some time off between finishing an Engineering role at the manufacturer Dyson and beginning my new role that I had some time to create a book and put my artwork together.

How do you create your art? Do you create your drawings by computer or do you prefer old school pencil and paper?  

I’m all old-school pen, pencil and paper! I like to share my process – if you see my youtube, Instagram or FB feeds @cdkingbooks, I have many shares of some rather manic videos which capture this stage. I have been looking into tablets like the Huion range and some Wacom products, but I haven’t found one which I am willing to sub for the mighty pen yet! There’s something about the feedback and sound of a pen or pencil on paper that can’t be recreated – even a millisecond delay or something which feels unnatural with the tablet products, then I am calling up customer service to return them! I will probably invest in a higher-end model at some point in order to streamline my process, as an addition to pen and paper, but definitely not as a replacement at this point in time.

What is your inspiration for the different types of art that you create for your coloring books?

I love anything that is surreal or unusual like in children’s literature, epic stories and adventures like Lord of The Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, the Harry Potter books and so much visual inspiration from classic Sci-Fi films like StarWars, Star Trek or Blade Runner. My Mum used to read bedtime stories to my brother and me when we were little, the Indian in The Cupboard and anything Enid Blyton went down well.

Nature and anything fractal are always getting stored in my visual memory – like plants and patterns which feed my imagination, when I am out and about.

Do you ever color your own work? And if so, what’s your favorite medium? Do you like pencils, markers or are you dipping into random reserves around the house for anything that can apply color in an interesting fashion?

I have some videos on youtube which show me using melted Crayola Crayons as a bit of fun, with a hairdryer to colour “Molly” a character I created – check it out @cdkingbooks! But marker pens, coloured pencils and graphite are my usual choice of weapons if I am colouring my own work. I choose graphite and coloured pencils as these are good to give demos which this crowd love to see – eg my Dragonfly or the various monochrome videos I put out on my feeds.These are monochrome so they are colour neutral, but the same principles of blending and shading apply.

How do you define success and how do you measure it?

If people can engage with my work and if I can keep peoples’ minds occupied even for a while, to help them focus their minds, then it is all worthwhile. If people colour, post and talk about my work and buy my books, then this is all good love too!

Besides yourself, who is your favorite coloring book artist?

I like lots of them because they create for different reasons. I have only recently been aware of other colouring book artists beyond the obvious ones like Johanna Basford since I started. So the ones who I am drawn to (no pun intended) are Kerby Rosanes, Steve and Tim Jeffs. Also Bennet Klein, who I’ve only recently discovered. Their styles and themes are somewhat similar to mine – someone said my grey-scales are like Tim Jeffs on acid (see T-rex from Awesome Beasts)! But Hanna Karlzon triggered my inspiration for my next book,  Dreams and Nightmares, which I shall be releasing before end of this year. I completed this book about a year ago – stay tuned! I found new artist friends in the various groups who are my favourites because they inspire me to keep going – Marty Woods is a constant boost with his positivity, support and art. UK based artists Antonina Kalinina who lives locally to me in Oxfordshire and Steve Turner who inspires me with his humour, too.

What color or colors do you most love to work with?

My favourite colour is green, but I actually like working with blue and purples as they have very deep hues. However, this might sound a bit controversial, but I love to work with monochrome. Since it has no colour, it can be applied to all colours – and sets the tonality, which is why it is used in my grey-scale illustrations.

Outside of creating coloring books, do you have any other hobbies or activities that you love?

Art in general, but socializing, eating out with friends and family. Also I like to keep active with snowboarding, the gym and running. Oxfordshire has many secrets and beautiful places to discover just by being outdoors.

What are your plans for the next year? Do you have any new coloring book releases planned?

Yes – I have mentioned Dreams and Nightmares, which is a surreal journey inspired by children’s literature, sci-fi and dream-like imagery, perfect for escaping into a world of imagination and mystery. There is so much material, it may be released in two parts. Also my Awesome Beasts collection of posters, which went into Blackwell’s poster shops will be made into an artbook/ colouring book with grey-scale edition.

Also, I plan to release material from my sketchbooks which may be random subjects, but I hope to curate or group them into themes, without being too editorial or fussy over it.

What are the titles of the last three books you have read or movies you’ve watched?

I need to make more time to read, but the last time I sat down with a novel to completion would have been the forth Harry Potter Book – Goblet Of Fire and the fifth – Order Of The Pheonix. I love the world JK creates around her characters, and I think colouring books and art books should be able to take you into a deep imaginary world in the same way, but without words.  Otherwise, I am usually skimming through newspaper articles and popular short articles in science journals. Film-wise I saw a repeat of Toy Story 3 on TV the other day, and I saw Hacksaw Ridge, Contact and Star Wars Rogue One on a long-haul flight to China, which was my first attempt to binge-watch anything! Instead I ended up getting my sketchbook out and creating a series of android characters with the films on in the background – George Lucas is kick-ass inspiration!

If you were deserted on an island, what three things would you want to have with you?

Sketchbook, a knife and a flask for water…or ink (I think ink just about edges it, for matters of survival)!

You can find Christopher’s books on his website http://www.cdkingbooks.com.

On Amazon: http://amzn.to/2yTEKSq.

Follow @cdkingbooks on FB and Instagram

Subscribe to his YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/2xuyRKx

 

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