Interview Chris Edser
Who is Chris Edser?
I’m an illustrator and animator. In the sports world recently I’ve done animation of NBA players for Bleacher Report and the Chicago Bulls, animated World Cup Footballers for Eurosport and wall illustrations for Nike Jordan Stores.
Where do you reside?
I live in Melbourne, Australia, but am originally from Adelaide.
Which athlete do you get out of bed to watch? And why?
Living in Australia I literally get out of bed and watch NBA basketball during our morning due to the time difference, so… everyone. I’ve always been a Portland Trail Blazers fan, so Damian Lillard is fun to watch in those games.
Which sports team gets your blood pumping? And why?
As mentioned above the Portland Trail Blazers, but it’s also hard not to get excited watching the Golden State Warriors this season. Anything can happen in those games. It’s amazing. I’ve also followed the Chicago Bulls in the East since working for them.
Do you play sports yourself?
Basketball of course. Grand Final this week, so wish me luck.
Who’s your favourite artist? And why?
It changes all the time. Not sure I can say I have a favourite.
What was the key moment your love for art grew?
Probably drawing a spaceship or a dinosaur as a child. Too early to remember.
How did your love for sports come about?
I think when I found basketball in the early-mid 90s like a lot of fans worldwide. The NBA was cleverly marketed along with the rise of Michael Jordan and others with weekly highlights on TV in Australia. Australian Rules Football and Cricket were big where I grew up and everyone played those sports. I got involved a bit, but never really seriously. Being slightly taller and enjoying the combination of individual creativity and teamwork in basketball it just worked for me.
When did sport become a subject of your own art?
As a kid my friends and I used to make fictitious basketball and cricket cards of ourselves playing in the future. My friend would make up the entire stats for the league when we were grown up and I would draw all the players. We were the stars of course with our little siblings and made-up guys being role-players or the opposition. That future never quite panned out, but I have done animation for the Chicago Bulls instead of playing Power-forward, so I guess I’ll be OK. Later I started a Tumblr with a friend to put up sketches we did while watching NBA games. It really took off when I began animating a few players as a way to work on some techniques I had been trying.
How did you get in to contact with the Chicago Bulls, Bleacher Report etc.? Was there a specific work that got you noticed?
The big moment was a series in 2013-14 of the Bulls’ then Defensive anchor Joakim Noah. These resonated with people and got shared a lot online. They found their way to the Chicago Bulls and also Mike Healey from KNEEON who had been asked to do some animated pieces for the Bulls. We’ve worked together since then on a few shorts for the Bulls. I think Bleacher Report came across my work on Instagram where I now post all my hoopsloops as I finish them.
What is Chris Edser’s style?
Interestingly I have two styles. My animation pieces are in flat colours and are very stylised, fun and cartoonish, whereas most of my illustration work is detailed ink drawings. More realistic, but often with an element of fantasy and imagination. Humour is perhaps a consistent theme across the board.
And how did you get this style? Or did the style choose you?
I think the ink drawing came about naturally and was developed over a long time as I’ve always gravitated to controlled detailed drawing. My animation was perhaps different and came out of experimenting and a need to work quicker and be more efficient. I was actually trying things I’d never done before with the Joakim Noah animation pieces. Testing out some techniques I’d just learned and wanted to try on a non-commissioned project.
Where do you create your artworks?
I work in a shared studio space in Melbourne with some other great animators. They do amazing work and are a huge inspiration and learning resource. Often I have NBA games playing in the background while I work and might be sketching ideas if I’m watching games at home.
What is your favourite sport artwork you made?
I think I like some of the simpler animations when I can capture the essence of a moment or player with a small number of drawings. One of Pau Gasol comes to mind, or Steph Curry rapidly shooting on a loop.
Which sport, sports team or athlete has always been on your mind, and is on the list to make a work of?
I have a bit of a list. Despite being a Blazers fan I hadn’t done many of their players until doing Damian Lillard this week, so that was good to tick off the list.
Which sport artist/colleague of yours do we have to check out?
Sam Barratt (we manage Ron Artist together as Screamdance), J.O.Applegate (BounceX3), Jacob Weinstein (illustrator for Free Darko books), Patrick Truby (basketball illustrator/animator), Adam Ballinger (used to play pro here in Australia and now draws), Davide Barco, Double Scribble (Basketball drawing tumblr, you’ll see a lot of other great stuff on there), Elias Stein, Roger Huang (Roger Space), Filip Peraić (James Harden Illustrated). There are many more on http://ronartist.tumblr.com/ our basketball drawing tumblr. Most people I find and like we share on there.
If you could choose one athlete you could make art with together for a day and he would teach you his skills, who would it be? And why?
Dirk Nowitzki seems like a fun guy. I could use some work on my one-legged fade-away shot and I’m sure he’d appreciate my opinions on colour theory.
Julius Caesar used to say (freely translated): “Give the people bread and games, and they will be quiet.” If you were Julius for a day, wanted to keep everybody relaxed, what food and which games would you give them?
Kangaroo pies, beers and a Zach Lavine vs. Aaron Gordon slam-dunk contest. All have hops so that works.
When I say “Art loves Sport” what’s the first thing that pops up in your mind?
Actually the first thing I think is that often it doesn’t! Arts people generally don’t love sport and I'm sometimes met with blank looks when I say I illustrate for sports teams, as if I’m not as sophisticated as they are or something. It’s a shame as I don’t think there needs to be a separation. There can be some really intelligent conversation around sports and its relationship with human behaviour and culture. It’s perhaps just a hangover from high-school stereotypes, labels and clicks. Jocks, Geeks etc. That said, it’s a great thing to encourage, so I’m glad ‘Art Loves Sport’ exists. Thanks for the interest in my work and keep up the good work.
Will do. And thanks to you Chris for the amazing answers!