Faces of Kingston: Chris O’Neal

Chris O’Neal

I was mindlessly browsing Instagram the other day when I went down a rabbit hole of weird and very cool warped horror artwork illustrations and popular culture characters on this one guy’s page. I then noticed they were from the same city as me and the rest followed naturally. Chris O’Neal joins us this week for our most recent local profile in courage (at being interviewed by me, hahaha). Check out his often literally killer work at Chrisoneal.com and read more below.

Morgan Y. Evans: I first kind of noticed your art was really rad via Instagram. I loved a picture you drew of Jerry Only from The Misfits. Are you a fan? I used to only like the Danzig-fronted stuff but now can admit to liking Famous Monsters, haha. “The Forbidden Zone” rules. 

Chris O’Neal: Thanks! I do love the Misfits. Never really got into the post-Danzig stuff. I got to see the reunion show in Newark a couple years ago though, and they were a glorious mess!

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How do you choose your subject matter for art portraits? Have you always been into horror and fantasy? What’d you think of the most recent Halloween movie? 

I try and keep in practice for illustration by picking whatever strikes my interest at the time. Fill your portfolio with the kind of work you want to do, ya know? I’ve always been a fan of horror/fantasy/sci-fi. Can’t say that I love any of the Halloween films after 3 — the best one, in my opinion. The Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross version of the theme song for the most recent movie rules though. 

What is your earliest memory of Kingston? Anything that is like seared into your memory banks as an early impression? 

My wife and I came up to check out Kingston a few years back and had such a great time we ended up getting a room for the night at that old motel where the RV lot is now. At the time we were living in Newburgh and trying to figure out where we wanted to buy. We had a great meal at a restaurant uptown that no longer exists and drinks around town. I’m pretty sure that’s when we decided we wanted to live here.

As an artist, what have been some of your more interesting jobs? You recently took part in the seventh annual Made In Kingston event? How was that? 

I love working with musicians to come up with imagery to accompany their music. Usually the weirder and darker the better. Some of the work I’ve got to do with fashion brands has been really interesting as well. Not only do they have the budgets for more elaborate work, it’s a fun challenge to figure how to integrate the art with the clothing. 

Made in Kingston is a great event and a wonderful way to learn about some of the exciting things happening around town. Special thanks to Neville Bean and Ray Curren for all their great work putting together the MAD Pop-up Fine Art presentation. 

What is something about our city right now that you find inspiring and what is something you think needs work? 

I love seeing so many people coming together in all sorts of different organizations working to make our community a better place for everyone. The Midtown Arts District, D.R.A.W., Kingston Land Trust and Radio Kingston, to name a few. I’m also excited to see so many cool new businesses coming to Broadway. In addition to classics like Monkey Joes and Joe Beez we’ve got exciting newcomers like World’s End Comics, Turn up the Beet and Tubby’s, to name a few. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next!

Like much of the rest of the country we have to deal with entrenched interests and greedy outsiders who are primarily concerned with their own profits over what’s best for the people around them. The amount of activism and engagement I see in Kingston gives me hope though. 

Some of your designs for your own drawings on your Instagram that you did for Game of Thrones characters almost look like they would translate into gaming miniatures well, like the old TSR Lord Soth death knights and stuff that rules that no one knows what I am talking about anymore. (Editor’s note: I do, Morgan. I do.) I saw you also do concert posters. What is the best way for people to hire you? 

Ha! I used to be obsessed with the metal fantasy miniatures at the hobby shop near where I grew up. I’d beg to go to the mall as young kid just to look at them. That’s totally what I was thinking of when I did those GoT illustrations. The characters in that series move through so many environments and interactions. I liked picturing them as kind of stand alone figures to be moved and placed next to others.

The best way to get in touch with me for illustration work is through my email, chris@chrisoneal.com. If you’re a creative looking to collaborate hit me up! I’m always looking for new projects.

I post a fair amount of work on Instagram (instagram.com/chris0neal/) so you can follow me there as well. 

What are you most looking forward to about 2020 in our area or life in general?

I’m looking forward to settling into a good grove with all of my various work endeavors. I think I’ve finally achieved a good balance and am excited to have it work for me. That includes making more art in 2020. I wasn’t as productive as I would have liked last year and am ready to get busy. Hopefully I’ll be able to put together enough work for a new show. Besides that, my wife and I are making steady progress on our house which is very satisfying and we’ve got a couple fun trips planned that I’m excited for. I’m also really hoping that Broadway gets a bike lane this year.

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