One of the most talked about pieces in the “Tabi Tabi Po” show is Christopher de Leon’s “The Rite”. He is an up and coming artist who we believe is the next hot thang that is going take over the urban contemporary art scene.
We had never met Chris until a week before the show. Fighting a nasty cold, he dropped off his contribution and upon appraising his work, it was instantly recognized as one of the showstoppers for the exhibit. The following Saturday, he offered James (the curator) his services to transform 1:AM gallery to a Filipino shanty town. He was at the gallery almost day and night for the entire week leading up to the opening and painted dope murals on the interior and exterior walls of the gallery. He really helped to make “Tabi Tabi Po” come alive!
With that being said, we wanted to get to know the guy who was giving us his all to make this a successful event. Learn more about him here:
What is your inspiration for your art? Do you have a story behind your paintings? Use “The Rite” as an example.
Most of my art usually stems from rooted emotions and feelings that I can’t quite express through writing or speech. I paint or draw how I’m feeling at the moment. “The Rite” basiclly shows the conflict between my culture upbringing and my ethnic roots. It’s my interpretation of the clash of incorporating two worlds.
How did it all begin? Painting?
When i opened my first box of crayon’s when I was like 3. THANKS MOM! I was totally hooked on leaving my mark on anything.
What training have you had to get you to this point?
I took art in high school, had a few years at the Art Institute of San Francisco and a couple years at the Academy. Unfortunately I never finished my degrees because I couldn’t afford to attend anymore. A lot of my skills just come from getting out a pen, pencil or whatever and just doodling everywhere I go.
What materials do you use? What is your favorite medium?
I use anything and everything I can get my hands on these days. Usually it’s whatever I can afford. Favorite medium to use is clay, I love sculpting.
How did you get into wood burning? What is the learning curve?
I totally picked up wood burning on a whim, saw that the tool was like $15 bucks and I was about to purchase like $20 something in paint. I went with the wood burning tool and I fell in love with it. I knocked out about 15+ hours practicing with it, then I did the premiere cover illustration for OH DANG! magazine. Im still learning how to use the tool I guess, it really takes a lot of patience to draw with.
What medium would you like to conquer next?
Cans! The piece i hit up with Roman on the wall at the gallery totally sparked interest.
What is the toughest thing you have to overcome as an artist?
Myself! I am my own worst critic, plus I get lazy or stuck in ruts, always on myself to stay focused.
What do you hope people take away from your art? Do you have a message?
Anything at all! If I can make somebody take even a second of their time to look at my work I am happy. To move somebody on any level is all I need. Do I have a message? Not all the time, I like to hear others interpretations of my paintings. I think there more entertaining!
You lean more to the dark side or the lit area?
I like the subtle shades of gray!
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
An Iron Chef! I love to cook!
If you had three wishes, what would they be?
Free education for all! A healthy liver! hmm..last one is tough.
What does Tabi Tabi Po mean to you? As a show and as a reference to Filipino folklore creatures…
As a show Tabi Tabi Po was an opportunity for me to reconnect to my Filipino roots. As a reference to Filipino folklore creatures it was an total learning experience. I had no idea what a lot of these creatures were until a few weeks ago.
Where are you from?
The dusty quiet streets of Bellevue Nebraska! HAHAHA…seriously!
Can you tell us what our fans can expect from Christopher de Leon in the next 5 years?
A lot of wonderful surprises! To be honest, I have no Idea what to expect in the next month. A year ago I was just learning how to really paint and here I am now. Life is totally full of wonderful surprises!
Anything else you would like to share?
I have to give credit to where credit is due. The words written in my acrylic painting “A Giant in the Mental” was penned by Marielle Fabie! I liked the way her handwriting looked and so I copied her script on my piece! Thank you Marielle!
Chris can also be found on the cover of and in the premiere issue of Oh Dang! magazine.
Christopher’s artwork can be found @ 1:AM gallery through December 12th!