Chris Fornal / Illustration

Chris Fornal, Watkins College of Art

Name the one place in Nashville you go for inspiration or rejuvenation.
I stick to the parks: Centennial, Edwin Warner, the little island behind Watkins overlooking the lake. If I need to chill out, I’m going to be outside, breathing fresh air and soaking up some sun.

What implement or tool in your “toolbox” as an artist do you love or depend on most?
Sketchbooks. It’s real tough beating a soft cover Moleskine. The paper is wonderfully smooth, the covers feel phenomenal, and the bookmark and elastic strap are just handy to have if you’re working on a time-consuming sketch. They wear well too. Midori sketchbooks are also fun to work with if you like changing up what mediums you’re working with/on a lot.

What do your parents think about your being an artist?
My parents weren’t hot on me going to art school right off the bat. They just know how difficult of a market it can be and were worried. I think, though, after seeing my senior show, they understand that I am dedicated to it and won’t stop until I succeed.

What does success look like to you?
Success comes when you come upon some new insight in your work. Whether you stumble upon it accidentally, or you finally get a complicated technique to work completely the first time, or whenever you find something intriguing and new about your work, I’d call that a success.

Success comes when you come upon some new insight in your work.

What advice do you most often give yourself or other artists?
Start with a sketch. Don’t assume any idea is ever bad from the get-go. Explore options to their fullest extent. Push conceptuality over aesthetic values.

Why does art matter?
Art matters because it saturates the connections people have with not only each other, but their entire world surrounding them. It’s the embodiment of a culture, a timeframe, a movement—what makes humans humane. Without it, the world becomes stale and stagnant.

Biggest myth about being an artist?
That it’s an easy but hopeless endeavor. It’s not easy or hopeless. The opposite, actually. If you’re driven, you can definitely find or make work. It’s the laziness that gets ya.

Which one quality do you think the world most needs from artists?
The world needs the broad-mindedness that most artists have. The ability to understand how small the world seems, but how large and complex it really is, and to be able to conceptualize it and turn it into something for the masses to understand.