I was fortunate recently to make the acquaintance of talented actor and artist Chris R. Wright. The London-based Wright features a terrific collection of sketches on his website, each produced with a ballpoint pen on watercolour paper. Biro is the word commonly known to describe this type of artistic sketching.
Among the collection of nicely-detailed, clever and unique sketches, we have a delightful Miles Davis sketch (above), which Wright was kind enough to send our way, along with a few minutes to chat about the story behind the artwork.
Miles Davis Online: What is the story behind this fantastic sketch of Miles Davis?
Chris R. Wright: I was made aware of something called The Miles Davis Fan Project, which involved Miles Davis fans compiling a kind of ‘favourites’ album, dictated by how many ‘likes’ various tracks received on facebook.
It is to be a legitimate release through Sony and part of the project is to vote on the album’s title and artwork, which are open to anyone (or so I thought) to design and name. Once work was completed on my offering, I was a little crestfallen to hear that non U.S. residents were actually not eligable to submit their work!
Miles Davis Online: Have you sketched Miles in the past, or any other jazz artists?
Chris R. Wright: I had never drawn Miles Davis before, but occasionally sketch quasi-caricatures of Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and a few others. I wanted to draw him for some time, among others, but never quite had the courage. For the most part what I doodle are imagined characters not based directly on anything real, so I hesitate before attempting portraits because they require that bit of extra care and attention (especially with a ballpoint pen). However, the fan project gave me the excuse I was looking for and I enjoyed drawing Miles a great deal.
Miles Davis Online: How did you decide on this particular image/design of Miles Davis to sketch?
Chris R. Wright: I wanted him to look really rock ‘n’ roll, coz I think he is up there with the Elvis/Dylan sort of figures, so I opted for the not-too-short not-too-long hairstyle, with a hint of quiff, and those great shades he wore. The cigarette had to be there too for added cool and I wanted to get the electric side across, so the smoke turning into a jack etc.
Basically, I think he looked like crap in the eighties so knew I’d avoid that era, but didn’t want to do yet another ‘safe’ “Kind of Blue” Miles Davis which we all see too often. The detail on the waving paper behind him is roughly lifted from the artwork on Live Evil. His albums always looked great!
Miles Davis Online: Favorite Miles Davis album?
Chris R. Wright: I’m by no means an aficionado and haven’t heard a great deal of his work, but I do own maybe half a dozen of his records, crossing both the early and later releases. I think out of them it would have to be “In a Silent Way” right now which was a present from a friend who is a long-time Miles Davis fan (and certainly more appreciative of his work than I am). I am amazed by this record, not least how how enduring it is and it has quickly become a firm favourite.
* The Miles Davis sketch is available to purchase as a print here.
© Chris R. Wright