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This month, we caught up with in-demand artist Cris Clapp Logan. Originally from St. Louis, Logan majored in political science and business, with plans to pursue a career in law and politics in the nation’s capital. While Logan always dabbled in art as a child, like many creatives, she pursued a more traditional D.C. path, working in communications and public policy on the Hill. When she became a mom, she took a sabbatical from her career and began painting, posting her daily doodles on Instagram.
She launched Cris Logan Art in 2017 and began working with the Brand Guild, creating brand-based illustrations of their clients including Sweetgreen, Scout Bags, &pizza, Drybar and SoulCycle. Here, Logan talks about her art career and the D.C. creative community.
District Fray: How would you characterize your artistic style?
Logan: I create vibrant, energetic mixed media art that seeks to represent some of the most well-known monuments and neighborhoods with unexpected color and joy.
What inspired you to make art a career?
As I was growing up, I never viewed art as a possible career. I didn’t know successful, full-time artists, and financial constraints and fears pushed me to pursue a more predictable D.C. path working in politics, communications and public policy. Eventually, my work focused specifically on anti-human trafficking and child online safety. The heavy nature of the job began to take a toll on my mental health, and when I had my kids, I took a sabbatical. During that time, I turned to art to help process all of the darkness I had been exposed to. I began creating light hearted art for my own home, and friends encouraged me to share my work on Instagram. Soon, a D.C.-based PR firm discovered me on social media and asked if I would create art for their clients. Those early days opened the doors to what felt like a flood of exciting work. Despite feeling entirely unqualified, I continued to say yes to even the most daunting projects, and before I knew it, I was a full-time artist.
What is the secret for creating artwork for so many different companies?
Stay true to your style and close to what you love. When brands reach out to inquire about working together, they always highlight my use of color and the personal connection I try to make with my pieces; art is primarily about connection for me. So, as I’m working with companies, I’m always seeking the story beneath the art and doing my best to create something that helps people feel seen or engaged through what I create.
You have a lot of D.C. in your art. What are some of your favorite subjects?
I hope my art serves as a reflection of the vibrant energy that emanates from this place. I love exploring the history, culture and diverse voices that shape D.C. in what I create. Drawing inspiration from the city’s architecture, neighborhoods and people, I’m deeply interested in the intersections of tradition and innovation in D.C. I love representing some of the most well-known monuments and neighborhoods with unexpectedly playful strokes and even humor. I have a pretty loose approach that I hope invites viewers to engage and explore their own connections to the city and its stories. I’m always hoping to spark conversations, encourage empathy, understanding and joy through my art.
How do you balance family life and an art career?
I’ll let you know as soon as I figure it out. Truly, I don’t sleep very much. I adore my family, but I’m also obsessed with my work. There have been many seasons where I’m thinking about my kids and the time my business takes away from them as I work, but as soon as I’m with my kids, I’m thinking about how much I want to be creating in my studio. This year, I’ve committed to (doing my best!) to be fully present with my kids when I’m with them and fully present with my art when I’m creating. I’ve only been able to do this by saying no to about 90% of the work requests that come my way. I no longer take commissions; I only work with the brands I love and enjoy, and I only take on projects that push me to learn. This helps me control the pace of my work and to have more joy as I work, and that joy spills over into my family life.
What are your thoughts on the city’s creative community?
I’m constantly amazed by the creativity and hustle of our arts community. Sometimes I look around a room of D.C. creatives and think, What am I doing here? I don’t belong with these amazingly talented people. But I’m constantly inspired to dig and think deeper because of our creative community. And the arc of our community bends towards positivity, inclusivity and support, something I’m very grateful for.
Favorite neighborhood. Capitol Hill feels the most like “home” because of my days working, dating and building friendships on the Hill, and enjoying epic Capitol Hill parties. But almost every neighborhood in the District feels like a family member to me. Foodie spots. If you’re forcing me to pick, Albi would be among the top for Mediterranean, Gravitas for American, Le Diplomate for French, Filomena for Italian and Shōtō for Japanese. Go-to museum. The National Gallery of Art. 2023 goal. To be fully present with my art, friends, community and kids.
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