Profile: Chris Grosz

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Published:  December 10, 2013
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Since arriving in Australia from his native New Zealand in the 1970s, Chris Grosz has been something of a graphic jack-of-all-trades. Over the years, he has worked as an illustrator, graphic designer, poster artist, political cartoonist and graphic novelist. As a visual artist, he is “constantly looking for a better way of expressing something” – honing his skills with the aim of producing memorable imagery for the television, music, print and advertising industries. Grosz’s varied folio champions the idea that creativity is spurred by continual practice, demonstrating his belief that “too much drawing is never enough”.

Grosz’s illustrations are a treasured feature of the Encounters column, a collaboration with writer Shane Maloney for The Monthly magazine. Mostly based on anecdotal whispers, Encounters depicts iconic and historically significant Australians interacting in unlikely chance meetings. Grosz’s caricatures of well-known Australians have been drawn using watercolour and ink, and in an expressively loose hatched linear style. They have recently been brought to life on screen in Australian Encounters, a series of three-minute animations for ABC1.

Chris Grosz for Australian Encounters, Episode 1: Hawke & SInatra

Chris Grosz for Australian Encounters, Episode 1: Bob Hawke & Frank Sinatra

Chris Grosz for Australian Encounters, Episode 5: Jo Lyons & Mussolini

Chris Grosz for Australian Encounters, Episode 5: Jo Lyons & Mussolini

 

The project seemed a logical progression for a body of work with such personality, giving Grosz the opportunity to revisit and add to initial drawings. For the 10 episodes, Grosz contributed more than 1200 original drawings over 14 months, which were then animated by Suitcase Murphy bros and XYZ studios. The result is a series with a relatable human feel that returns to a hand-drawn era of animation, which fits well with the show’s historical content. For Grosz, the success of the work is that it “retains the feel of the original illustrations in The Monthly, which is all I could have asked for”.

Grosz’s refined creative process is due largely to his broad range of experiences in various creative and artistic disciplines. Beginning his professional career as a freelance artist for a cluster of Melbourne’s advertising agencies, Grosz was able to later develop into a cartoonist and illustrator for The AgeNation Review, The Bulletin and various airline magazines.

Through the 70s and 80s, Grosz  further expanded his practice while designing music gig posters at Australian Concert Entertainment – where he was able to create artwork for an incredible number of his musical heroes, as well as experiment with a variety of styles and mediums. For Grosz, designing Australian tour posters for artists such as Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan and U2 contributed to his development as a graphic artist, as he was “able to take a lot of creative risks”. Examples of Grosz’s work in this field are included in Rockin’ Australia, a three-volume collection of rock posters due for release in December 2013.

U2 poster design by Chris Grosz

U2 poster design and art by Chris Grosz

Frank Zappa poster design by Chris Grosz

Frank Zappa poster design and art by Chris Grosz

 

Weather Report poster art and design by Chris Grosz

Weather Report poster art and design by Chris Grosz

Tom Waits poster design and art by Chris Grosz

Tom Waits poster design and art by Chris Grosz

Grosz’s work spans decades of evolutions in style and technique, using various media to communicate, advertise and reflect an audience’s changing aesthetic values. Though he has a wealth of experience in the graphic art and design industry, Publishing a graphic novel in 2011 Kimble Bent: Malcontent, his career still offers creative challenges. Referring to the painstaking effort in executing his deceptively free-style illustrations, Grosz states, “some of them just fall out of the end of my pen, others go through hundreds of drafts”. Whether his role is in designing, illustrating or cartooning, Grosz’s career has been spent in creative pursuit of what he refers to as “Idea driven images,” as they “are the ones that last”.

Kimble Bent: Malcontent, 2011, A graphic novel by Chris Grosz

Kimble Bent: Malcontent, 2011, A graphic novel by Chris Grosz

The Australian Encounters DVD is available to purchase at ABC shops and Readings bookstores now.

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