A Conversation with Chris Panatier
Dallas artist and writer, Chris Panatier, sat down with Wavelength's assistant designer, Elsa S., to discuss his late, but all-consuming, arrival to the world of art and his process and approach when creating.
Elsa S. | 24 October 2018
When I first met Chris, he was in line at Toasted getting coffee. Modestly tucked beneath his arm was one of his many pieces, “The Nascency of Adam.” Though still in its early stages, it showed the exuberance and playful style of his work, characterized by tireless, graphic detail and rich, inviting watercolors. Pictured in it was the strong central figure of Eve, Adam nowhere to be seen. In his artwork, he has every attention of developing a commentary on the tradition, constructing a provocative, conflicting twist of the biblical plot. Chris visually reveals artistic storylines in pieces by contrasting dark and colorful imagery with the powerful representations of his own ideas.
“I’ve always been more artistic than analytical.”
From a young age, Chris has been enamored by art and driven by artistic tendencies, but it wasn’t until 2007 when he decided to hone his skills and really begin practicing and perfecting his craft. His day job as an attorney soon fell second to art as it became the major focus in his life. “I enjoy it [being and attorney], but it’s just not enough of a creative outlet. That creative side has grown me like a large baby, and I had to give birth to it.”
So where did he begin?
Chris recalls his first encounter in Dallas on Dragon Street. “I committed what you could call, a sin — you’re supposed to send out portfolios, etc. but I just whipped out my phone and said, ‘Hey look what I did’”. At the time, he was working on large scale, abstract oil paintings fit with organic forms and hues of intense tonality. Although he enjoyed a few successful show, the ambience of the Dragon Street galleries didn’t feel ideal. “I would rather someone have it [his artwork] than it sit in an art gallery.”
As time passed, Chris began to transition from abstract forms to his own representations of reality. “I write and I art with my heart on my sleeve. I infuse a lot of emotion into it… for me, people’s faces and gestures were where the emotion was really captured.” In his more recent work, inspired by a sort of ‘art nouveau’, he creates emotionally complex characters in a world of color and form that are distinct, but still reminiscent of his earlier work. The bright yet gothic quality of his work has attracted the attention of many musicians, mainly in the grimecore scene, and his commissions can be found on a number of debut albums and EP releases. Embracing a ‘pay-what-you-can’ approach, Chris has worked with small and large groups, always passionate about creating work that they will love. “I think every artist is, in their own way, a bit of an attention whore. I love having it [his work] out there.”
“The story will evolve as I sketch. Rarely do I go, ‘This is exactly what I’m doing.’”
Aside from art, Chris has also immersed himself in the field of writing. “I never set out to be a writer…. I didn’t know I wanted to until I was thirty-eight years old. I had an idea — I started from ground zero with a story.” Finding inspiration in his life and his passions, he has written three novels to date, all of which he categorizes in sci-fi and horror genre. He has also written several short stories, many of which can be found in his writing portfolio on WordPress, and he is currently seeking the publication of his work.
“There are two ways you do what makes you happy… right out of school you can move to LA to be an artist and a writer… trying to make it doing something you’re passionate about. I did the reverse. I went to law school and later transitioned to what I truly loved — the writing and the art. I envied their freedom and the purity of what they were doing, jumping out of school and into what they were passionate about, while I was working the straight ahead job. But now, I have the freedom."
Today, Chris Panatier is drawing and writing away, choosing to pursue his passions. At the end of the day, Chris claims that his four-year old is his biggest fan when it comes to troll tales and storytelling.
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