“I’m more interested in people and hearing their stories and telling them through my art.”
That was C.J. Reilly’s reply when I asked the Larchmont artist if he had any particular medium he preferred to work in. He then explained that his philosophy is both personal and practical. If you’re not an established artist, you have to be able to diversify and go where the work is to make any regular income — when you’re not vying for highly regarded and competitive grants that is, he says.
And in seeking ways of making a living, the 25-year-old Larchmont resident and Mamaroneck High School graduate has been able to display his talents in a number of ways. Whether doing animations for the Lego website, graphics for American Eagle clothing, promotional posters for musicians of note such as Stephen Malkmus (Pavement), or chalk board art and design for Aroma coffee in Larchmont, C.J. Has found ways to diversify, express himself and earn a living. Something not easy to do in a highly competitive world of art.
That is when he’s not traveling the world, hearing people’s stories, and retelling them in his own way.
“It’s storytelling,” he explains. “It’s been going on forever and how we keep history. Everybody has a story and I like to try to tell it and to help them see that and that there’s a value to it and them.”
And whether he’s creating an outdoor mural in Tel Aviv showing the ups and downs of a young soldier’s daily life in a place where everyday is an uncertainty, or traveling to South America doing sketches inspired by the strangers he meets along the way, C.J. does just that.
And successfully too. The art created on both those trips was shown as exhibits at galleries in New York City — no easy feat for a guy only four years out of college (MICA).
Looking ahead to 2011, C.J. plans to continue diversifying his mediums and travels with a trip to India to do animations with low income children, hearing stories of the underprivileged and then telling them in his own way. However, for people to see them they won’t have to go to a gallery in the city. You’ll only have to look as far your computer screen as they will put online for the world to see.
“I think a lot of these kids feel like they have no voice and hopefully I can help change that,” he says.
“I love the idea traveling the world and making a living off of your work, what you produce.” he says, adding that being an entrepreneur may not be easy but there’s a great freedom and happiness that comes with it. And so far C.J. is living his own dream, which has endless possibilities.
C.J.’s work can be seen at CJ’s web site as well as the chalk board graphics at Aroma Coffee Roast, 1932 Palmer Ave., Larchmont.