Behind the Experimental Lens of Visionary Artist Christopher Whytal

Split Focus. Digital photograph shot using light painting techniques. Self-portrait shot by Christopher Whytal

Christopher Whytal is an artist, graphic designer, and father of two from the Washington DC metro area. His art interests are multifaceted and include painting, sculpture, photography, and writing.

Christopher has been recognized by the Circle Foundation for the Arts for his impressionistic acrylic painting and photography. He also works in watercolor and sumi-e ink, and paints driftwood, allowing the organic shape to inspire his design. His piece, Dragon, was featured in Spotlight, Volume 30. 

In recent years, Christopher has explored light painting photography, an experimental technique for capturing light on film by shooting at night and leaving the shutter open. He was first drawn to experimental photography in the late 90s, shooting with a Holga 120S, a quirky medium-format film camera that allows natural distortions, light leaks, and vignettes. He continues to use the camera, as well as a Hasselblad 500C, today.

Christopher has received more than a dozen awards for his work including a Neutral Density Award, International Photography Award, and the Monochrome Award. He is a member of the Black and White Awards community and has been published in multiple international art magazines, including 365 Art+ and Art Reveal.

Christopher received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Radford University, with a concentration in graphic design and photography. He works full-time as a graphic designer in marketing and communication, and writes for 365 Art+ Magazine, published in Japan and printed in three languages with global distribution.

NY Elite Interview with Artist and Graphic Designer Christopher Whytal

NY Elite: What are you currently working on?

Christopher Whytal: I’ve got several projects right now. In my job as a designer, I’m working on digital brochures, promotional ads, and video presentations. I am also editing film I took from my Holga from two recent trips to Minneapolis and New York City. I am also on the lookout for old, abandoned buildings and other structures to shoot in a style called Urbex Photography.

NY Elite: What originally made you want to become a graphic designer?

Christopher Whytal: I had a lot of competing career interests while in school. I ultimately went with graphic design because I saw it as an opportunity to create art every day that would benefit the clients I was designing for.

NY Elite: What does art mean to you?

Christopher Whytal: Art is an outward expression of my imagination and inner emotions portrayed through a variety of mediums. I have produced photography, painting, and Sumi-e ink art and written poetry. Art can take on many forms; it’s how you express it that makes it unique.

NY Elite: How has your artistic journey been? What are your primary focuses?

Christopher Whytal: My journey has been full of surprises. I didn’t fully take a passionate approach to my art until the height of the pandemic. I was working from home and caring for my sons, with little time to myself but a desperate need for a creative outlet. I took up night photography, roaming from 3 a.m. until the sun rose. This led to light painting photography, and as my skills progressed, I took on a more experimental nature to my work. I also began actively learning new art forms to write about for an art magazine. I’ve kept up with the art forms that bring me the most joy. I have always been a believer that if you enjoy what you do, you will be successful at it. Currently, that’s digital photography and acrylic painting.

NY Elite: Can you talk about the jewelry-making training you received in college? Are you still making any pieces today?  What material do you work with primarily?

Christopher Whytal: I learned silversmithing at Radford University. My initial interest was in working with flame torches and metal. I quickly grew to love the art form and ended up dedicating two years to it, focusing on the use of silver. I really enjoyed making the wax sculptures that were used to cast jewelry. I still have my tools and resources, but it has been five years since I made anything. There’s not enough time to do it all!

A Lonely Walk. Shot in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France, using a medium format film camera called a Holga. Shot by Christopher Whytal

NY Elite: What type of photography do you do? What genre?

Christopher Whytal: I like experimental photography, from light painting to Urbex to slow shutter, and digital experimentation to old-school film. I vary my form depending on my intent and the look I want to create in that moment.

NY Elite: How would you describe your artistic style? 

Christopher Whytal: I would describe it as multifaceted. My passion is exploratory in nature, and I often jump from one medium to the next.

NY Elite: Driftwood art is another passion of yours. What inspired your latest creation?

Christopher Whytal: I love the outdoors and hiking and camping. Searching for that unique fragments of wood that resemble other things is like a treasure hunt. Sometimes I come back with a piece that I’ll paint immediately, and on other trips, nothing attracts my eye. Dragon was made from a piece I had found years before and stained for decorative use on my deck.  It wasn’t until I flipped it upside down that I saw the dragon and painted it as such.

NY Elite: Is the material from any particular area/region that you use? What is the most important process when you are crafting driftwood art?

Christopher Whytal: I find most of my driftwood along the Potomac River in northern Virginia. It’s an extremely wide river leading to the Chesapeake Bay though I’ve found a few spots where I often have good luck. The most important part is, of course, finding the right piece, which can be precarious. Once I nearly stepped on a copperhead snake, coiled and ready to strike, while more than a mile from civilization. Now I try to look for driftwood and look around.

NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?

Christopher Whytal: I am an avid guitar player, mainly acoustic. I have been playing for about 20 years and only recently began recording and mixing my music. I am in the process of making an album for my sons, creating the songs from scratch. I like involving the boys, from inspiring lyrics and singing, to background noise. It’s a lot of fun and something I hope they will remember.

NY Elite: What draws you to writing?

Christopher Whytal: Writing is another form of expression. It has given me the chance to share my love of art and creative expression and to inspire others. I like to give encouraging tips and advice to make new art forms more approachable. I also enjoy poetry.

NY Elite: Can you tell us about some of your favorite projects you have been part of.

Christopher Whytal: I’ve been producing art and writing for 365 Art+ Magazine for more than a year. It’s pushed me as a photographer and helped me experiment with other forms of art. The editors are extremely authentic and kind and have been a massive source of encouragement from afar.

NY Elite: In your view, what are your biggest accomplishments?

Christopher Whytal: Raising my boys has been the ultimate creative exercise, but I’m excited to be working with the Circle Foundation for the Arts for the next year. They represent artists from all over the world, affording them exciting new opportunities and publicity within the art realm.

NY Elite: What else can we expect from you this year?

Christopher Whytal: I intend to continue pushing the boundaries of my photography skills, writing, and painting. It’s almost certain I’ll pick up a new form of art this year, too; I love to create.

Social Media Links:

Instagram: @christopherwhytal

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