Chris Crites is The BagPainter

Artist Chris Crites of Seattle uses paper bags and toilet paper rolls as canvas for his incredible series, “Big Time”, which is part of an ongoing series of mug shots. For over ten years Chris has created tightly rendered and flawlessly detailed four and five color mug shot portraits hand-painted on brown paper bags. The wrinkles and folds provides a new context for his criminal portraits; employing a disposable frame for socially disposable people. The quality of the paper bags both elevate the contrast between the brightly colored acrylic portraits and their dingy backdrop. Check out more of his amazing work, on his website- here, and Flickr photostream, here.  Also, be sure to check out his book of collected mug shots, which can be purchased, here.

“Years ago I saw a book of black and white crime photographs from the past. I found it amazing. The characters and crime scenes looked like surreal glimpses into the history of human interaction. Much more intriguing for me were the mug shots. Portraits of people who had just been caught. Despair, frustration, anger – so many expressions could be read on the faces. Each one of these images has a story. Often times I have no idea what the real story is, but it’s hard not to make one up. One of the reasons I paint them is to bring out another possible story, for people to look at and think about. The majority of the images I base my paintings on are from the 1890’s through 1950’s.” – Chris Crites


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