We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher La Fleur and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christopher, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
I strongly disagree with talented artists being encouraged to go to art school. Do not go to art school. You’ll cultivate your talent and refine your practice with time and experience. Go to business school. Learn how to market yourself, talk about your work, and negotiate. Learn how to figure out your budgets and inventory. If you already have the talent, do not go to art school. Go to business school.
I also disagree with the artist stereotype, and the people who encourage a more laissez faire approach to artmaking. I tell my artist friends that our work is about exploration, not inspiration. There are a lot of talented artists out there, but they’re waiting for that one good idea to strike. Sorry hun, you might be waiting a while.
I’ve often heard arts professionals joke, “A clean studio is an unused one!” Sorry, that tired joke should be tossed out. Clean your studio often. Make your bed before you work in the morning. Put a bit of discipline into your day. Your artmaking practice will grow much faster.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think what sets my work apart is the level of authenticity and vulnerability I put into it. That’s not to say the work of other artists isn’t. I guess I mean, it took a really long time for me to be open and honest with others, let alone myself. I can directly translate whatever it is I’m going through, or working on, through my work. Mental health is a huge piece of my message. I’ve had a short life that feels like it’s been very long. I have to share that with people who are going through the same things.
Finally, I’m very focused on details. Details bring a work together. One of my recent pieces has 214 stars and more than 300 characters on it. It’s tedious. People don’t see that side of things. The average person spends less than one minute with a work of art. I try to make work with so many meanings and details that it forces the viewer to stop and examine it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First, they’d visit my art studio and see my newest work in person. Then, they’d go on a hike in the foothills with me. We’d probably dedicate a day to visiting the Denver MCA, as well as the Clyfford Still Museum–my favorite museum in Denver. I hope I’m entertaining in the summer, in which case I’d visit Vail and the Denver Botanic Gardens with them as well.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to the queer community. Every queer person deserves respect, recognition, and success.