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Daily Inspiration: Meet Chris Stell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Stell.

Hi Chris, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I have been in all forms of art since I was little. I was fortunate to have a family that was involved and embraced all types of art. My grandpa would draw and teach me for hours and hours when I could barely hold a pen (rarely a pencil). I did everything from pen and ink drawings to copper enameling, macrame, and ceramics. Although it was treated as a hobby growing up – never a career choice. Then I discovered advertising art in college and found a great way to an adventure that has spanned over 47 years in San Diego. I was a graphic designer way before computers – when all art was done by hand. For the past 22 plus years, I have worked with dichroic glass, specializing in hand etching graphics into the colorful surface and creating unique wall art. In addition, I create artwork for manufacturers of pattern glass and decals. Since 2009 I have been in Studio #9 in Spanish Village Art Center. You can find me there hand etching in glass.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think any business venture goes 100% smoothly. The atmosphere, people, tools, equipment and much more are constantly changing. You have to evolve and adapt. Sometimes that’s difficult. But always a learning experience. COVID has definitely been the biggest test of my entire career. Shutting down my graphics and glass incomes at the same time. I found myself learning all about online websites and had the time to do it correctly. Not to mention producing tons of product! Currently, there are glass manufacturing issues as well as the rise in prices for shipping and supplies. You have to remember that being an independent artist isn’t like a real job — you are everything and in charge of your own success or failure. Hard work can make that road smoother.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I love to draw. From ink pen and pencil to my high-speed engraver. My illustrations are bright, colorful and happy. I want to make people smile and say wow when they see my work. I freehand etch illustrations with a high-speed engraver glass and supplement it with anodized metals to create very unique one-of-a-kind pieces of art. By etching, in my studio, I hope to inspire visitors to pursue their creative side. My work is about my passion and loving what I do, and I think my creations show that. Most illustrations and dimensional glass pieces include suns, moons, rocket ships, robots, faces and more. Most visitors remember the robots and bolo ties (for women). They have lots of character and expression. I still create pen and ink patterns for dichroic glass and it has really made me a bigger part of the glass industry. I love to see someone with glass that uses one of my patterns. Pen and ink illustrating is still part of my work including knife companies that laser etch knife blades. I love to keep evolving and trying new things. Lots of experimenting and always a new sun face every year.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I’m not sure what to expect. The glass manufacturing process seems to be the biggest challenge. They have new laws and regulations all the time. New and evolving tools and equipment change the way things are done. Equipment becomes more sophisticated but simpler and faster. Always something new and exciting to look forward to.

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