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An Interview with Chris Uphues

The world needs the vibrant heart(s) of Chris Uphues. The artist and designer (he co-founded the shop Beautiful Days with his wife, Jen Koehl) is not only a huge personal inspiration of mine but has become a cultural phenomenon over the past couple of years. Best known for his bright-eyed cartoon hearts, Uphues draws from an eclectic range of inspirations to create his iconography. He simply and beautifully distills his "spread love" philosophy into imagery that's attainable rather than elitist, welcoming rather than exclusive. This is especially true of his street art, which is not only accessible in terms of medium, but also possesses an almost aggressive luminosity, so energetic it's infectious, impossible to ignore. Inspired by Keith Haring, he is well on his way to entering the pop art cannon himself. And for good reason. In the current tumultuous political and cultural landscape, we need the vigorous cheerfulness of his work.

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What work are you most proud of?

I don't think I have a piece I'm most proud of . I think my answer changes every time I make something new. Mostly I just really enjoy getting in the studio and continuing the work everyday. That's where the real action and fun really is.

Who do you think the most creative person alive is?

One of my favorite creative people is theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, most well known for his work on string theory.

What is your favorite color combination?

Anything that vibrates when you set them side by side -- like a fluorescent over a pastel.

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What's the best advice you've ever received?

"Leap and the net will appear." - zen proverb

This is the one piece of advice I find to be completely true 100% of the time.

What's the strangest thing you've painted on?

I once painted on these giant bins in a farm in Montana to look like great big robot heads. Still one of my favorite projects.

What would you change about the art world?

Nothing. It's perfect just the way it is. Or actually every single thing but it's too much to list in a single interview.

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What's the best reaction anyone has ever had to your art?

Hmmm I'm not really sure , but it's always nice when people appreciate something you've worked hard on. There has been a recent wave of art teachers teaching my work in class and I really love seeing those projects develop.

What was the first thing you painted?

That's a hard one... I think it was probably a water color of a bowl of fruit in my very first painting class. LOL

What do you hope you'll be remembered for?

I used to have big ideas about this but now I just hope I brought a little joy into the world and more specifically, to my wife and family, and I hope they know I love them.

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Using an analogy, how would you describe your creative process?

My creative process is like a galactic cloud of gas. The molecules in the cloud gather and collide, and gather mass until they start forming planets, suns, and star systems of ideas and imagery.

Lastly, if your body of work were an animal, what kind of animal would it be and why?

I genuinely can't pick just one... so all of them.

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