The Official Statement on the Digital Art of Chris Nielsen

My name is Chris Nielsen. I am an Associate Professor in computer graphics courses in southern California. My specialty is using the digital medium of the computer to create visual art. My personal emphasis is in the subject of highly-detailed drawings of Motorcycle portraits. I have an MFA Degree in the area of illustration, with an emphasis on computer art. I received my Master of Fine Arts Degree from Cal State Fullerton.

With my Motorcycle Portraits, I work STRICTLY in Adobe Illustrator. My work is completely made up of flat-colored shapes... lots and lots of them! I DO NOT work with any types of Filters or Special Effects. I like the process of developing a realistic look in my illustrations with totally flat colors and abstract shapes.

Although the Motorcycle Portraits I create are based on my own reference photographs, my creative process is to go deeper into the reality you and I see and define a New Reality in the digital medium. I define the Visual Style of my Motorcycle work as “Stylized Photorealism”.

My visual works are not interpretations of the reality I photographed. They are not literal copies of a particular motorcycle either. No... instead, they take on this New Reality from the fact that I am constantly breaking up continuous tones into a more graphic, shape-oriented means to conveying surface details. My New Reality does not exist in the world that the camera can be used to capture. My shapes and color changes and subtle additions here and there are strictly from the way my eyes see this New Reality... a New world of imagery that I can share with the viewer. In other words, through my work I am saying - welcome to My world.

I am a huge admirer of the Realist painters from the 20th century, such as Chuck Close and Richard Estes. I just don't work in the same painting medium as they do. Due to the nature of the way Adobe Illustrator works, my artwork has a very graphic and stylized look to the way I have to create shapes that portray the details to the viewers of my works. That is why I believe my work falls into an offshoot of the Photorealism genre and takes on a whole new look - Stylized Photorealism.

The word Photorealism was coined by Louis K. Meisel back in 1968. He also created a 5-Point Definition of what it is, or what it takes, to be a Photo-realist:

1. The Photo-realist uses the camera and photograph to gather information for their pieces.
2. The Photo-realist uses a mechanical or semimechanical means to transfer the information to the canvas.
3. The Photo-realist must have the technical ability to make the finished work appear photographic.
4. The artist must have exhibited work as a Photorealist by 1972 to be considered one of the central Photorealists.
5. The artist must have devoted at least five years to the development and exhibition of Photorealist work.

Well, all those points above certainly apply to me... except, obviously, Number 4. I guess I was born a little bit late. But that is all fine and well, seeing as how Adobe Illustrator wasn't even created by Adobe Systems Inc. until 1987. I started using the application in 1990.

As for my images... well, I usually go with what appeals to me visually. In other words, I draw what I like to look at. I will be honest. I don't know the first thing about how a motorcycle works. I think I sat on a motorcycle once when I was a little kid. But, I do know that there is nothing (in my opinion) more exciting for me, as an artist, than to see all those wonderful little details in the construction of these amazing machines!

I hold the designers and craftsmen who build these bikes in the highest regard for the obvious talents they show off. The artistic design, craftsmanship and flawless construction of the bikes I create my portraits from is an art form in itself that I admire and pay tribute to in my own work.

I choose to work on portraits of motorcycles that you and I do not have the privilege of viewing on a daily basis. I do not focus on the whole motorcycle either. I prefer to crop in on those amazing and complicated, little parts and focus on those relationships. Those are the portraits I like to draw... simply because it’s a challenge to me... and they’re fun to look at and talk about.