arMStroNG: The entire pro bass tournament scene is hilarious to an outsider like me. The crazy boats with those huge motors and all that electronic gadgetry, the shirts with all the logos on them, and the insane rituals when they catch a bass, like screaming at the fish and those stupid “victory dances.” Some of the pros take themselves, and their sport, way too seriously, and the sad part is, they have an entire nation of amateur bass fishermen trying to emulate them. Hey, guys, lighten up! Bass fishing is supposed to be fun, remember?
wirth: I’ve heard that a few pros have been seri- ously offended by illustrations you’ve done of them.
arMStroNG: They don’t get mad at the TV cam- eraman in their boat who films them acting like a poster child for Prozac every time they land a bass. I’m just of- fering up my interpretation of the same behavior, only to a few million fewer viewers. Those who act like idiots need to be treated as such, and I’m just the guy to do it. Most of the pros I’ve met get a huge kick out of what I do.
wirth: When you get an assignment from an outdoor mag- azine to do an illustration, what happens next?
arMStroNG: The illustration I’ve been assigned will usually accompany an article or column. Let’s say the editor needs an illus- tration of a bass suspending in standing timber. I’ll note what lures or presentation techniques the writer is referring to, and include those in the drawing. If it’s a humor piece, I’ll read the material and usually something particularly funny or outrageous will leap out at me. I’ll first draw the image in light pencil on heavy watercolor board, then apply watercolor paint, then follow that up with pen and ink drawn on top of the color. This process lets me work quickly and allows me to complete my work on or ahead of deadline with a minimum of tomfoolery. I’m usually working on several magazine assignments or other projects at the same time. My workplace, Smackwater Studio, is in my house – I like the short commute. I’m working most days by 8:30 a.m. and will often go past midnight, because I love what I do.
wirth: I’m a musician as well as a writer, and I really dig your illustrations of rock stars – Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Neil Young. What tunes do you listen to in your studio while you’re working?
arMStroNG: I dig all types of music, everything from Deff Leppard to Beethovan. My favorite recording artist is probably Leon Redbone – he defines the word “mellow.” If I’m up against a tight dead- line, I’ll play some bluegrass. Banjo pickin’ makes me work faster.
wirth: What other types of projects have you done lately?
arMStroNG: : I do a lot of work for advertising agencies and specialty companies. I’ve done some murals for the State of Florida that I’m really proud of. One was for the Guana Research Reserve near St. Augustine; it depicted the 13 different environments at this ecologi- cally important location. It’s 68 feet long and was quite an undertaking.
wirth: Will a computer ever replace Chris Armstrong?
arMStroNG: If I go down to technology, it won’t be without a fight! I fear computers will one day bring about the death of illustration. We’ve already seen what the Internet has done to outdoor magazines and book publishing. I’m old school; I like to feel the paper between my fingers.
wirth: Where are you headed on your next fishing trip?
arMStroNG: Wherever the guy with the boat wants to take me. I don’t own a boat; I’ve got enough headaches already. bwU