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“Simple.” “Geometric.” “Brightly-Colored”. No, this is not a description of this season’s statement pieces, but the self-described work of artist du jour, Christopher Bettig. The French- American artist’s whimsical eye catching designs have enabled him to develop quite an impressive resume working with companies such as Urban Outfitters, Carhartt, Converse, Poolga and the search engine titan Google. In this interview we find out the method behind his work, how he uses his frequent flier miles and what he holds dear to his heart.
Tell us about your work. Where do you draw inspiration from?
I think it probably comes from traveling. It allows me to catch sight of forms of architecture (which is inspiring) and observe the way people interact with public spaces in cities. Music is also a giant influence, or maybe more of an inspiration.
How would you describe your style of design? Does it change depending on the canvas and/or the medium?
Simple. I try to keep things very simple, geometric and brightly colored. The medium doesn't really effect the way I work, although it may effect the complexity of the outcome / project. While most of my graphics are very simplified monochromatic designs on a white background, my installation work is created with a single type of wood. For example, my installations are geometric shapes repeated over and over. So the outcome is a very complex, busy and large pieces but the core principles of simplicity and geometry are always there.
You recently created an installment at the J.Crew store in Rockefeller Plaza in New York. What was the motivational direction behind that piece?
The original idea/shape came from rafters in a curved ceiling from a project I worked on years ago. I liked the seeming randomness of the placement of the joists and how in the curve of the ceiling it made some diamond shapes. The notion of the random placement of beams providing all the stability of the structure really appealed to me and this concept of making an unstable structure stable has been featured in a variety of installations I've done over the years. So in this particular installation there are a series of diamond shapes collapsing into each other and "falling" from one side of the store to the other. While the piece is 30 feet tall it touches the walls and ceiling but not the floor, it becomes a hovering, mid air collapse. The final bit of the shape in this installation comes from a personal place as I lost one of my oldest friends that I've know for well over 20 years. So the silhouette of the piece is roughly in the shape of half of a heart.
You're also the art director/senior designer of Google, what are some of your responsibilities there?
I lead a team of designers who have been working on elements of the redesigned Gmail, docs and sites that have recently been released to the public. I do a variety of design work including branding of products, logos, icons, illustrations etc. Occasionally I get to do illustrations that hit the search home page as well.
Who are some of your art influences?
Jessica Stockholder & Phoebe Washburn for different reasons, but basically I love all of their installations. I'm also lucky and have some amazingly talented friends: Simon Peplow, Susie Ghahremani, Cody Hudson, Justin VanHoy, and Yusuke Tsukamoto.
Your Vimeo features some of your monthly musings and travels. Where are some of your favorite vacation spots?
So many places:
FRANCE: I miss France a lot. I go back to visit my family in Nice, Monaco and Saint Malo regularly.
INDIA: India, especially Udaipur, is absolutely amazing. The city is covered in murals done by the residents. I went during Diwali and the entire city was blanketed in holiday lights over the streets and the inner city was closed to only pedestrians.
JAPAN: I've been to some great small spa towns in the mountains near Nagano, like Yudanaka. It's great and there are public geothermic baths everywhere. Within hiking distance is a national park where there are wild snow monkeys that bathe in the geothermal pools
AUSTRALIA: Melbourne is pretty much the perfect city.
ENGLAND: My love of art and football means that the UK is my home away from home. I love every inch, from Lyme Regis to Edinburgh.
- by Kenberly Pierre-Paul