Alumnus transforms Post-Its into art

Media Credit: Photo Courtesy of Chris Locke

Alumnus Christopher Locke recently published a book of portraits, all scrawled on neon Post-Its.

Have you ever tried to study, but instead ended up doodling on whatever scraps of paper are on your desk? For alumnus Christopher Locke, this creative energy helped him create art from Post-Its.

Last spring, Locke printed his book “Sticky Note Portrait Book,” which compiled hand-drawn mini portraits of more than 270 people, all sketched onto Post-Its.

Locke’s whimsical designs are etched in black and white on bright yellow, blue and green sticky note canvasses and depict people with an array of facial expressions, from the ridiculous to the solemn. One portrait shows a shaggy-haired child with a white smile, while another shows a woman crossing her eyes and sticking out her tongue.

An artist and middle school teacher in Austin, Texas, Locke turned to Post-Its as a platform for his work when he began running out of room in his home for large portraits. He added that he has also used Post-Its to explain and illustrate ideas for his students.

Locke, who graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, credits his GW education with helping launch his career. A Virginia native, Locke wanted to attend a school close to home and was drawn to GW’s sculpture studio in Rome Hall, with its large windows and outdoor work spaces.

“I’ve always thought that I was meant to make art,” Locke said. “I wasn’t always good at it, but I always wanted to do it.”

In his search for a career, Locke had previously tried film school and working at a paint store making signs, where people told him that he was talented, but that he was wasting his time working there.

One of his professors at GW, Frank Wright, who has taught drawing at GW for 45 years, helped him learn that people could make art as a living and that Locke himself had this potential.

“I’d been waiting 20 years for someone to say that,” Locke said.

He launched a Kickstarter campaign in September of 2014 to raise $6,000 to pay for the binding and the printing of his Post-It book. A month later, backed by 160 donors, he had raised the funds and began his project in full swing, which he completed in April.

Locke said he also likes to create art that has a function. A portion of his income as an artist comes from selling iPhone amplifiers that he has created from recycled brass instruments, like horns. His other creations include man-made “fossils” that resemble cell phones, cassettes, floppy disks, video game controllers and Gameboys made out of stone.

He said that he tries to strike a balance between creating something useful and creating something aesthetically pleasing.

“People don’t typically spend $600 on something that just looks nice and sits there,” Locke said.

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