Chris Parks AKA Palehorse resides in Florida USA, and not only creates mindbendingly beautiful work, but also runs a gallery which he works out of. Palehorse is bent on illustrating a colourful world, filled with mythology, ancient civilisations, alchemy, pro wrestling, heavy metal, altered states & mystical creatures, he is constantly experimenting and pushing the boundaries of his work, blurring the lines between digital illustration and fine art.

Chris created the beautiful ‘Serpent Messenger‘ for us. Chris kindly answered a few questions for us about his work and amazing piece for us ‘Serpent Messenger’.

Q: Hi Chris, How are you doing today?

A: Well, I’ve got a new, robotic hip replacement that is healing nicely, most of my taxes are paid and I’m not running from the law, so life is as good as it gets I think.

 Q: Firstly, we’d just like to thank you for creating such a super piece for us; it’s been amazing watching getting to be a part of producing such a distinctive piece for the S&H colour series!

A: Ah, no problem…. I had a lot of fun creating it and this piece really helped spark the inception of my “Life Forms” series that I’ve been developing since early this year.

 Q:Tell us a bit about how you started out in this industry?

A: I got my start with some initial tech school training during my high school years and started designing album art for my various bands. I then was hired as a layout/graphic design and pre-production artist for a printer that specialized in producing album art and posters for independent record labels. This was a perfect way to learn and develop production skills and led to graduating from art school while I earned my degree.

 Q: Take us through a typical day for you. Is it all work, or do you like to break it up with other things throughout the day?

A: I wake up around 8:30am – Make breakfast – Play with my pit bull “Achilles” – Spend 20 minutes in meditation to get my mind right – Then I head to my studio space that I split with my girlfriend’s advertising agency around 10:30am. – I spend the mornings and afternoons pretending to be a responsible adult, answering emails, paying bills, making lists, taking client meetings/phone calls, self promoting and stuff like that. – I grab lunch at my desk or with friends on the block – Then, around 4 or 5pm, when I’ve handled most of my business related tasks, I get to tune out and just draw till around Midnight.

Q: We know your studio double’s up as a gallery space with exhibitions, how do you think this has helped or changed the way people are able to view your work, does it spur you on to create more?

A: Having my own space to host gallery shows has allowed me to connect with the local community and has given me a great outlet to experiment, evolve and push myself to explore new concepts, processes and production methods that I wouldn’t have otherwise tried. I think it’s one of the big reasons that my illustration style is so unique. I have a constant space where I can create and show exactly the type of work that I’m interested in as much or at little as I want. Without this outlet, I’d risk getting trapped into always following current trends and creative briefs from brands, rather than creating new trends and exploring whatever concepts that I’m personally obsessed with at the moment. I feel very lucky to get to have had the opportunity to create freely in this way.

Q: Talk us through a typical Pale Horse Creation then, what’s your process?

A: I like to keep sketchbooks of loose concepts and written notes as much as possible. These initial sketches have no final goal or use in mind, but often become invaluable when it’s time to start a new piece. I then take a photo of one of the sketches with my phone and pull it into Photoshop to start drawing on top of the pencil lines with my Wacom Cintiq Tablet. Similar to using a traditional lightbox, I run through a few iterations of sketches, focusing more on the details and getting more and more refined with each sketch layer, before digitally inking the clean outlines with my Wacom pen. After the piece is fully outlined, I digitally paint in the gray shading with a soft brush, followed by color and highlights. For my dimensional pieces, I then create all of the cut lines and layered printing instructions that I send to my production team. From there the artwork is produced directly onto acrylic glass and router cut. After production I take the printed pieces of cut acrylic and assemble the layers to match the final vision and add mounting hardware to hang the finished piece on the wall.

Q: You have a very distinct style and an incredible way of using colour and shading to create specific pieces, what are your Inspirations, what do you often look to when feeling a little drained of ideas?

A: Despite my fear of sounding too weird and scaring off your readers, I’ll try to explain this as best as I can for you. For a while now, I’ve been practicing with visionary exercises, audio frequencies, lucid dreaming and guided meditation to train my imaginary muscle. After reading and practicing with these various methods, I’ve started to view my imagination as an inner world, containing endless visions and possibilities just waiting to be brought to life. Thinking like this allows me to explore my mind like a tourist, where I can experience, visualize and bring back highly original concepts. Thanks to no natural talent, but many years and countless late nights spent learning to sketch, outline, shade and color, it’s an exhilarating feeling to now visualize complex ideas in my mind and actually be able to bring them to life through digital illustration.

The concept for the color scheme of my recent “Life Forms” series came from something I call “the color of darkness”. This is the idea that the color “black” contains within it the full spectrum of color. Also, if you pay close attention to your dreaming, there is a moment when dark shadowy images transition from dull shades of gray to a full spectrum of vivid color, patterns and complexity. I try to capture this concept in much of my recent work using smooth color and grayscale transitions.

Q: Tell us about the piece you did for Skull & Heart.

A:  The “Serpent Messenger” piece came into my mind while practicing with a guided mediation from Alex Grey called “The Visionary Artist”. In this instructional audio, he explains a method for visualizing and drawing a power animal. For some reason I always see slithering snakes and shiny scales in my mind when I start to visualize, so these things often find their way into my sketches. I imagined that this reptile creature could shift at will and was constantly in transition. In this piece the serpent shifts into a cat, then a samurai, offering guidance and protection. I know, this all sounds completely crazy, but thinking in this way became really fun once I got over how weird and embarrassing it was.

Q: Can you tell us about any future projects in the works?

A: I’m currently creating a new, large, dimensional shark piece to add to my “Life Forms” collection and will be traveling with it for an opening at Hand Crafted Gallery in Miami, FL. later this month. Look for a print version of that one to drop soon after the opening as well.

Q: And of course, Skulls or Hearts?

A: I think a balance of equal parts skulls and hearts is best, because you can’t have one without the other.

All available artwork from Palehorse is available to purchase in our online store. Please click the images below to be directed to the item you are interested in.