When art and music collide! “Artists Beyond the Chords” is a Dying Scene series highlighting stories from various visual artists in the scene. Our first installment showcases the work and wisdom of Chris Shary.
Chris Shary is one of the hardest working artists, who’s been a hard hitting staple in the punk community for decades. Based out of Stockton, California, Shary is also a dedicated drama teacher, father, husband, and self-proclaimed dork. He truly does it ALL (pun intended). Best known for his depiction of “Milo” (Descenedents), his works have also supported the likes of ALL, The Damned, Devo, Blink-182, The Meatmen, Circle Jerks, 7 Seconds, The Dead Milkmen, Agent Orange, Melvins, The Lillingtons, Chemical People, Masked Intruder, and so many more. His output ranges from album art, concert flyers, t-shirts, specialized merch items, and even action figures. With such an impressive resume, one might think it’s all done for notoriety, but deep down he’s just a huge fan expressing his undying love for music.
Shary’s artistic journey began when he was first able to hold a crayon and pencil, but really became serious at the tender age of 6. At 17 years old, he started creating pieces for different bands and has been going strong ever since. He often teeters between different portraiture styles such as vibrant pop-art induced color blocking and black and white sketch realism. His current art-weapons-of-choice are pen and ink, mainly sharpies, but he recently started working with acrylic paints again. Consistently creating is key to his process.
“I try and draw every day, but I do a lot of thinking prior to starting commissioned work, or if I am getting ideas together for a band I want to work with. I walk my dog for a half hour every morning right when I wake up and that’s time I devote to thinking of ideas of what I might create,” said Shary.
Another way he searches for ideas is by experiencing live music. Oftentimes you can catch him at some of the biggest shows snapping shots for his latest creations. Not many can rock a phone camera in the photo pit without getting a boot from security, but he has clout, and for good reason.
“I use the photos as reference when I’m working,” Shary explained, “but it also connects me with bands on a much closer level.”
As far as his true artistic motivation, Shary does not look outside of his own home. Family comes first, and it lives in the heart of each piece he creates.
“My family is the thing that inspires me the most. My wife Lori is also an amazing artist and she is constantly making incredible pieces and kinda pushes me because of that. My son is also a big fan of the work we do, so I always want to impress him.”
Like a machine, Shary regularly posts new works on his social media accounts. Whether it’s commissioned or perfectly juxtaposed doodles for his own pleasure. Music aside, subjects range from pop culture references, memes, movies, television, and comic books. He never lets himself falter or take long breaks away from art, and strongly believes no creative person should.
“I think the idea of an artist’s block is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. People tend to psych themselves out and then can’t get out of it. It just seems like an easy way to not work. I’m all about making things and hitting headlines. Just keep doing work and there is no need to slow down.”
For those who want to break into the music art industry, Shary preaches the importance of repetition while remaining open and to your true self.
“Do the work. Draw everyday and be happy to do it for yourself. No one owes you anything so be happy for whatever happens. It’s not always a quick process so do the work,” he advised.
When asking Shary what he would like to leave Dying Scene readers with he offered a pure sentiment of kindness.
“Be nice to each other, and try seeing things from other people’s point of view.”
View and support Chris Shary’s artwork at: