29 Aug Meet: Chris Blain
Now I live in Grandview with my girlfriend Yuliya, our bearded dragon – Waffles, and our snake – Oro. Yuliya is an incredibly talented interior designer at CRI Interiors here in Columbus. She totally balances me out and pushes me to keep going after my passions. Even when it involves turning our living room, kitchen, and bedroom into additional workspaces. It blows my mind that she ended up in the same small Ohio town as me after moving to America from Ukraine when she was 6. Now, I can’t imagine my life without her.
How did you get the gig at City BBQ? What’s your favorite part? And, what’s your favorite food there?
I had been doing freelance design work, fine art commissions, and property development after graduating from CCAD. My friend told me about the creative services position that City BBQ had created. I wasn’t really looking for a full-time gig and I never envisioned myself working in an office, but the job description included a lot of the things that I love to do.
I work on the marketing team and handle a majority of the creative work. Earlier this year I headed up the company’s rebrand, which included my redesign of the original logo. This was the largest project I have ever handled and I was honored to be trusted with visually representing the excellence the brand has been known for since 1999.
My favorite part is the fact that I get to use all of the creative skills I have been developing over the course of my lifetime, while eating ridiculous amounts of BBQ…that is seriously a requirement of my job. Dreams do come true. My favorite food? Full. Cut. Brisket.
What does your role with Independents’ Day look like?
For those of you who don’t know what Independents’ Day is, it’s a festival celebrating art, music, food, and performances in the heart of Columbus’ vibrant East Franklinton neighborhood. My role with Independents’ Day has been changing ever since I started with the festival a few years back. Adam Brouillette brought together a team of artists to submit stage concepts to sponsors, and my idea got shot down due to some miscommunication. I was bummed, but I love building things, so I took the opportunity to help plan, paint, and construct the stages. I ended up quitting my job and volunteering 100+ hours that year, because I could just feel something special was happening. We definitely bit off more than we could chew (we built and painted four 24’ tall stage backdrops out of plywood and whatever pallets we could round up), but somehow we pulled it off. Getting involved with the Independents’ Day was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I highly encourage anyone reading to do the same.
My second year with the festival, I decided to create a mini golf course. I assembled a team of extremely talented artists and we went about planning, designing, building, and running the whole course. Much of the work was done in my studio, which is a garage in my apartment complex surrounded by other apartments. Somehow I wasn’t evicted, so a big thanks to my neighbors for putting up with all of that! I had never led a project that large from start to finish and I count myself extremely lucky to have had such a supportive and talented team by my side throughout the entire process.
This year I’m a visual lead for the festival and I’m overseeing the design and planning one of the zones, the Gritty City. A majority of the visual leads are artists from the original stage team Adam put together 3 years ago. We are working to make the festival the best it can be, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a major competitive mindset among all of us, which I believe is going to take this thing to the next level. I’m not giving any more details, but if you’re not in Franklinton September 17th-18th you are nuts.
Okay, one more detail about ID fest…my band TAKACS will be playing on Saturday, September 17th at 4:00pm on the Gritty City stage. It’s going to be pretty rad to play on a stage that I am designing and building.
TAKACS is myself and 3 of my best friends. We play thrash metal. Loud, fast, aggressive and wicked fun. I’ve been playing guitar most of my life. One day I decided I really like to play fast, so we started a thrash band. The name comes from my first boss, Les Takacs. He was a cool dude that owned an ice cream shop where our drummer Geof and I worked growing up. I can’t remember how it came up, but the name sounded right and once I created the logo it just stuck. Some of my best memories are with the dudes in the band and our group of friends that have been there from the beginning.
You can check out our demo at: takacs.bandcamp.com
What has been your favorite commissioned piece?
My favorite commission is a charcoal portrait I did of my uncle’s friend who passed away about 4 years ago. I had never taken on a project with that much importance to that many people. I was honored, but it scared me, and I almost didn’t take it. Then I realized I was focusing on the negative instead of the incredible opportunity I had to create something positive for the people that love him most. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but that piece helped me grow the most as an artist.
What’s your favorite place, restaurant, and part about Columbus?
My favorite place in Columbus is the fenced in courts on 11th St. on OSU campus. Nights spent playing soccer under the lights there are hard to beat. I’ve been playing soccer competitively since I was young, but pickup games on the street are still my favorite.
Favorite restaurant is Tommy’s Pizza on Lane and North Star in Upper Arlington. Hands down the best pizza in Columbus. I’ve been going once a month since I was old enough to eat solid foods. My favorite part about Columbus is that the city has grown into one of the most diverse and creative places in the country, yet it still feels small enough to be an integral part of the city’s development. That, and the Buckeyes.