Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Dunn.
Hi Chris, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Everything for me began in Southern Illinois where I grew up and first discovered my love for Art, Skateboarding, and Photography. I started drawing as soon as I had learned to use a pencil at a young age and was instantly obsessed, I knew I enjoyed making art very early on. Eventually, I got into skateboarding when I was in middle school and it completely took over for me. I got into all the music, art, people, and culture of skateboarding and let it embody me, which to this day I think of as one of the best decisions of my life. Being from a town with a population of 900 there wasn’t exactly a ton of insight from what the outside of that was like but thankfully for me, I had the world of skateboarding to show me that outside world and show me that there was more and it’s possible to make a life of being an artist. So from skateboarding, I gained the confidence to continue making art and take it seriously and also gave me the idea to pick up a camera so I could start filming my friends and I skateboarding.
My photography/Video pursuit started with filming and editing skate videos with all my friends when we were young and putting them on YouTube and promoting them with our own “skate company” where we sold shirts and stickers and branded our skate crew as “Make Believe Skateboarding,” we still have all our old videos up too so it’s always fun to go back and watch them from time to time. Where I lived in Illinois is very close to the Shawnee National Forest, growing up hiking and exploring that area instantly had me inspired to start shooting photography and capturing the beauty that place holds. I’m very thankful for somewhere as great as the Shawnee to help assist me in beginning photography. Of course, then I learned that I can shoot photos of my friend’s skateboarding as well as landscape photography and that’s when it seemed to have all clicked for me. I’ve pretty much been doing the same thing ever since then. Art, Photography, Skateboarding.
I graduated High School and went to college for Art for a year and a half until eventually dropping out, at the time I wanted to go to school for photography but the college I went to didn’t offer any photography courses and most of the time I would end up skipping classes to go shoot or just make art on my own time so I figured maybe it just was not for me. After a little while of not knowing what to do after college, I ended up meeting my girlfriend of four years and moved here to St. Louis with her. Moving here was amazing for me especially coming from such a small town, I knew I was finally somewhere where I can make the things I love to do work and be around others with the same goals and mindsets. I had always dreamed of coming and visiting St. Louis to skate around downtown for a day but somehow ended up with something better…now I can skate downtown EVERY day?! I’m so thankful to be here.
As soon as I got here, I just started going crazy with skating, shooting photos, making art, and meeting so many great people in this city and trying to make a name for myself with the things I do. It’s been over four years now and I’m still here just trying to make a living with my passions and I’m extremely happy and thankful to say that it’s been going great. Right now I’m currently running a YouTube channel for my art and photography, traveling as much as I can, making as much art as I can, filming for a local STL skate video, and helping local clothing brands in the skate scene with designs and artwork as much as I can. Just trying to keep myself busy and stay true to what I love to do in the city that welcomed me with open arms.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has certainly not been smooth, but I’m actually thankful for that though. As rough as I’ve felt about myself at times and had plenty of instances where I’ve had absolutely no confidence in myself whatsoever, those moments have given me more insight about myself and what I want to do more than anything else. I think it’s important to go through the rough patches and have to struggle a bit because it helps you really appreciate the good things and have a clear vision of what they are. With that being said, a lot of my struggles have came from within and just trying to deal with the current climate of the world we live in. I try to keep my passions as the things that allow me to step outside of my overthinking brain.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
At the moment, I’m really into going out at night or waking up early at sunrise to go shoot photographs. I’ve really been enjoying capturing the city from a perspective you might not see too often with photography. Most of my photo work is done on film with both 35mm and medium format, but I also shoot digital as well for when I do photoshoots for people. When it comes to art I mostly paint with acrylic on canvas but here lately I’ve been taking old, used skateboards and turning them into paintings to be hung up and given a second life. I’ve also been dabbling in learning graphic design so I’ve been making fliers for events going on and designing shirts and logos for friends who run a few clothing brands here in the city. (i.e. Humble Pleasures, Sk8bort Tees, Flucker Threads.)
As far as YouTube goes, I started making videos November of 2020 after being fired from my second job of the year and decided that I was going to buckle down and get serious with my passions. Ever since then I’ve been consistently uploading and making videos on skateboarding, art, and mostly photography. Ever since starting YouTube, I’ve been given some really great opportunities and have gotten acquainted with some really amazing photographers from around the world. Brian Birks (another STL photographer and YouTuber) recently did a video on me and my love for photography, from that, came the push I needed to get my foot in the door to this world of YouTube and photography outside of St. Louis and the Midwest. I owe a lot to him.
As far as what I’m most proud of I’d say work wise, I’m very proud of myself for finally getting a photograph I had shot of a friend skating in Thrasher Magazine after years of sending them photos. Personal wise, I’m proud of myself for staying true to what I love after all these years. I just keep telling myself it will all work out in the end and I believe it will.
We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I wish I could say much has been purely from luck at all but honestly, I feel like most of what I’ve done I’ve worked for it and have had to create the luck that I do have myself. I don’t feel as if anything has ever fallen in my lap and have been made easy or difficult for me, I feel as if everything I have done has had logical occurrences leading up to them that made them just fall into place. I could dwell on what I believe could be the bad luck of being dealt with growing up not on the wealthy side whatsoever but in the end, I’m more thankful for that, because I feel it makes my work more honest.
- Skateboard paintings $100
- Canvas Paintings $60-$400
- Photo Prints $15-$100
- Designs/Fliers $30-$150
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: chrisdunnartphoto.com
- Instagram: @aboynamedhappy (photography) @cheeseburgerpicnic (art/skateboarding)
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7wpmSVjC7I4MYr9ZJ-Elgg