Meet the incarcerated artist: Chris Stark

Meet the incarcerated artist: Chris Stark

One of our ultimate goals with this marketplace is to bridge the gap between inside and outside prison walls. To connect incarcerated artists with art lovers, not only through the masterpieces they create, but also through their stories. This one-on-one interview with our incarcerated artists offers a window into their everyday lives, their creation process, real-life struggles to access art supplies and sometimes difficulties in sending their artwork outside. 

Today artist Chris Stark, currently incarcerated in Michigan, shares his thoughts and experiences.

  1. How long have you been painting/drawing?

I've been drawing, doodling, and painting since I was a little boy. 

  1. What does creating art bring you?

Art has always been a part of my life and an escape for me when life was difficult. Throughout the ages, people have always struggled to express themselves artistically and people have been persecuted and even killed all in the name of art! So I find the hurdles that I have to jump over small compared to what some people had to go through to make their art be seen. Because of our artistic forefathers and the struggles they went through the world has beautiful pieces of art for every man, woman and child to enjoy. That's what art means to me and how I connect with art on an emotional level.

  1. What do you think art brings to society?

Being an artist in prison has its share of difficulties that a person on the outside would never have to go through. The prison system takes everything they can from you that makes you an individual and artistic freedom is one of the things they hate. They regulate everything from what supplies we can order to what we can send out. If you deviate from those said rules they will take every bit of art supplies from you in a heartbeat!

  1. What are your favorite media to use, and how do you get them in prison?

Over the years, because of the strict rules on what we can and can't use as far as art supplies goes, I've taken to working with cheap black 19¢ ballpoint pens that they sell on the prison store and plain white typing paper. These are materials that are readily available, cheap and available for everyone and anyone to use. Because I use "bare bones" to draw with my work stands out and the time and patience it takes to create such artworks really shows through my art. 

Art for Redemption Incarcerated Artist prison art skulls Art for Redemption incarcerated artist prison art skulls
  1. How difficult is it to send your art to the outside? Did you have any bad experiences?

Sending artwork out is a whole other obstacle to deal with all together. We have to jump through lots of hoops in order to mail anything out that isn't in a prestamped envelope, so unless I want to fold up a drawing that took me 20 hours to pen&ink and stuff it into a little envelope I have to go through these obstacles. We have to first order large envelopes from the prison store that we only get every 2 weeks! Then we have to fill out an oversized postage disbursement and give it to the unit counselor for him to then get processed so it can be mailed out. Its a very frustrating process that takes days to deal with and over the years, I've had many packages not make it to their destinations.

  1. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for listening to my thoughts and feelings on this subject. 

Yours truly, 

Chris Stark

Find Chris's available artwork below or his entire collection here.

Skeletons behind bars

Skeletons behind bars



Struggle Within

Struggle within



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1 comment

Your technique is incredible especially on that typing paper with a pen. When I was first incarcerated that was my medium too. Our difference is that I used No. 2 pencils and typing paper. You’ve made great pieces with all that you have. I look forward to more.

Todd Hollfelder

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