Blackburn Studio

 Chris Blackburn

Chris Blackburn


I was born in Boise, ID, but my parents moved the family to SLC, then back to Boise again. I lived in Chicago and Seattle post-college but came back to Utah to settle down with my own family. 

I love to make my own lattes in the morning and drink wine and whiskey in the evening. Food plays an important role in my families life. We love to cook and we do a great job at it.

I am a full time artist and photographer. I'm married and have 3 awesome boys. I like to tinker which is why my art is always moving in different directions. I like to work on motorcycles, chemistry projects, cook, bake, most anything that will keep my mind challenged active and sharp. 

Why do you make art?
 I make art because it's a challenge. The forms of photography and art I have dedicated myself to have all types of ways of self-destructing. Because of that, they have a lot of latitude to evolve and destruct in a constructive way. What makes me the happiest with art is when it's been framed by a person who is just as good as framing as I am at my art and hung on a wall. Art is meant to be enjoyed and on the wall is where it can be enjoyed the most. 

A good art sessions for me is when minimal spills, mishaps, and distractions happen. The best art sessions are when I'm experimenting and and the new technique works out. A lot of my art has a definitive stopping point. After a certain point there is nothing else I can do to them. When I mount the mat board onto the back of a glass plate, it's done. 

How much time do you get to spend making art?:
On a good day, I get 2-4 hours but these days aren't consistent. It also depends on how much other work I have on my plate and time constraints of family life as well.

Who are some of your favorite artists?
Anna Atkins for her early work in cyanotype printing, Most Golden Age Hollywood photographers, and Richard Avadon for his simplicity and clean style. 

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Did you study art in school?
Not specifically. I took art classes all through jr high and high school. In college I took photography as electives and got a degree in Sociology of Deviance and Criminal Justice Forensic Science. 

Having art as a major, or going to an art school should or shouldn't be a goal for someone. It really depends on their end goals and how they like to learn. I would advocate to anyone to take the direction that makes most sense for them. Do they need someone to direct them and show them different forms of art and expression or are they self driven and can motivate themselves to do it? Obviously if one of their end goals was to teach at a school then having a formal art degree is a necessity. 

When making big decisions like these, attempting to take emotion out of the process can clarify which direction would be best.

How do you balance time between making art and marketing art?
I personally haven't found this balance yet. I need to refocus a lot of my efforts on marketing my art. However my current marketing is selling my art at shows i.e. Utah Arts Festival, Craft Lake City, SLC Farmers Market, etc. I'm looking to expand the festivals I attend in 2018.

Do you have favorite books on art, creativity, the business of art, process, confidence, etc.?
I don't. I'm an investigative reader. Meaning, when I need to know about something or a process I study it in a vacuum. I'll find multiple resources that support or conflict each other and create a plan based on the research. 

Art, creativity, business, process and confidence all come with practice and the willingness to fail. If I would recommend any type of reading I would direct people in the area of resilience and determination. Also I would recommend every artist take a course or courses on business and marketing.

Do you ever struggle with creative block?
Of course everyone has creative blocks or grows tired of producing the same thing over and over again. When I get to these points I start to think how I can combine what I'm doing with another style that I use. For instance. How can I colorize my wet plates. There are some traditional methods with pigments, but how can I modernize this a little bit? I set to the task of taking a picture as a wet plate and digitally and merged these two in photoshop with some great results. 

It's not about forcing something to happen for me. It's about attempting to step outside my box and trying to view it through the eyes of another person, artist, or methodology.

As an artist, what questions to you get asked the most? 
Taking up old techniques that have been long forgotten for most has been awesome. However, it comes with a lot of questions from people as well. 

What is a cyanotype? It's a chemical photographic process invented in 1841 by William Herschel. How is it done? You mix your chemistry in water and apply it to a surface or dissolve it in gelatin. After you apply it to your surface (paper, linen, glass) you allow it to dry. After dried you can make your print as a photogram or as a print done with a negative. After the sun's UV activates the chemistry you can bring it in to process.

What is a wet plate? It is one of the earliest forms of photography invented by Fredrick Archer in 1852. Think of Victorian Era or Civil War Era photography.How is it done? In a nutshell your'e making your own film shooting and developing it all while the plate remains wet, hence the name wet plate.