Briefly describe the work you do.
On the surface, and simply put, what I do is mix auto paint and take pictures of the paint as it begins to blend. Over the years, I have learned that paint had different densities. Once I learned this, I learned how to manipulate the paint, just like a coffee barista After a couple years and a lot of trial and error, I found the perfect way to take the picture. And then I had to find the perfect photo paper.
When you physically see the photographs, you will not believe your eyes on how deep and vibrant they look and the prints are not photo shopped or tampered with in anyway, except cropping.
Art is in the eye of the beholder. There are many different images one can perceive in each print. WHATS YOURS?
One day, I started taking pictures of the paint. People were laughing at me, rolling their eyes, saying I was wasting my time. Well I didn’t think so, because, like you said, art is in the eye of the beholder. People weren’t able to see what I was seeing yet. My work is like an ink-blot test. There is no wrong or right perception, what you see and what you believe it that it is, it is. And each print is individually unique, due to the fact that each pour is different and can NEVER be recreated.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I have been in the automotive paint industry for 33 years, mixing colors for cars and painting cars. As I poured I started seeing things take shape in the cans, so I learned how to manipulate the paint and make designs.
Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. My studio is my mix/paint room or any shop that I have to go to show people how to mix paint. When I start mixing I pull out my camera and start snapping pictures. I love pouring because you never know what you’re going to get until you begin to pour.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I never envisioned myself as an artist. I thought I was just doing my job and having fun drawing in paint and smelling it lol, until one day someone had called me an artist (I just laughed and said ok) but then it hit me, I am an artist. Now I find myself looking at everything in everyday life as art. Even the sky and clouds.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
Every day I wake up, I don’t know what’s in store for me. Some days I can mix 30 paints some days I won’t mix any. I never have a set time, it just happens when it happens, sometimes out of them 30 pours I won’t get anything you just never know how the paint will treat you that day..
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
Throughout the course of time, I have seen my work change drastically. I look at my first pours and cringe, because I had yet to find the way to perfect the picture taking process and to be able to show others what I was seeing. And of course, the paper used to print it out makes so much of a difference. Without the proper printing, it can look dull and lackluster.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
I have been supported very much by my entire family (including cousins). They are the ones that have convinced me that I am an artist and I should start acting like one, look beyond the normal realm of “me” and create and sell my work. I love doing this, if I could just give these away I would. Without all of my family I wouldn’t be where I am today. THANK YOU FAMILY, I LOVE YOU ALL.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
My occupation is what started all of this. I am still working in the automotive industry, going throughout the Midwest, showing people how to mix paint and paint cars. I hope to someday travel solely for my art, possibly open my own gallery someday. Keep your eyes peeled soon you will see CHEMICAL BARISTA EVERYWHERE……..
Chris Lampton Jr aka Chemical Barista was born and raised in South Milwaukee WI. While he was a teenager he was a participant at South Milwaukee High School until 1989 where he majored in study hall and in school suspensions, as Chris was majoring in in school suspensions he minored in comedy securing even yet more in school suspensions.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.