Visionary painter, Chris Dyer embodies love and light
Visionary artist, Chris Dyer finds inspiration in travelling the world, discovering new cultures, and striving to achieve his potential while helping others pursue their passions. Surrounded by light and love in his new home, Heads Lifestyle caught up with the Canadian-Peruvian painter to discuss the latest chapter in his life.
Heads Lifestyle: Exciting time in your life right now. How are you feeling?
Chris Dyer: I’m feeling good. Grateful. Happy from a full on summer and ready for catching up on business in my office and painting in my studio.
HL: Can you tell us about your recent experience at the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank of Palestine? How did you come to collaborate with the non-profit Beyond Us?
CD: Well, Beyond Us just knew of my art and me. I was the first artist asked to participate in the project. It was unpaid work, but I value rich experiences and like to do some charity art when I get the chance. The whole trip to the Middle East was very special. I got to see and learn a lot about Israel, Palestine and Jordan. I am not a political person but it’s unavoidable to hear everybody’s side of the story. There’s a lot of pain and trauma, a lot to forgive and heal.
As for my experience in Balata, it was great, but also really hard. You could feel the tension in the air. It triggered a lot of childhood trauma for me. Many of the kids and adults, struggling in the refugee camp, were grateful for the art, because we showed that we cared. But many others didn’t really understand why a bunch of westerners came to paint their walls, instead of just giving them the spray cans—the kids kept trying to steal them from us. So there were times when I felt intimidated and scared, but I kept pushing on, making my art for them. After all, it was only a week, and they have to live there. It’s a sad situation.
Dyer painting a mural at the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank of Palestine.
HL: What can you tell us about teaching and art therapy? Do you see it as a natural extension of your role as an artist?
CD: I love teaching art. I have taught different age groups over the years, but these days it is mostly young adults who join my workshops around the world. My goal is to empower them to be their best and give them all the tools possible to make a career from their passion. I don’t think that being a teacher is a natural extension of being an artist. I’m sure many artists would rather just keep their secrets to themselves. They feel the competitiveness of other artists and are selfish. But I don’t think that way. People need to find happiness and freedom, and if I can help artists like myself, then I have done my part.
People need to find happiness and freedom, and if I can help artists like myself, then I have done my part.
HL: Do you feel a responsibility to guide and inspire others?
CD: My main responsibility is to heal myself and become as close to my potential and godly self. In that process I realize I am also everybody else, so helping others also helps myself. As I achieve my potential, I may inspire others to do the same. In the end, I am only truly responsible for myself. Everybody has their own process and I respect that.
I am the Eggman - Painting the meditation dome at the abandoned “Beatles Ashram” in Rishikesh, India.
HL: How did spirituality become a basis for your creativity? Were you raised with spirituality?
CD: Not really. I always felt a need to be in touch with the creator of the universe. As a kid, adults tell you that religion is that path. So I would walk to church every Sunday by myself, but I honestly didn’t find God there. Later, through working as a tree planter in nature, taking magic mushrooms with explorative intentions and reading books like the Celestine Prophecy, I learnt that the spirit couldn’t be contained by any culture. Now I try to live from the point-of-view of spirit, connected to all, making my way to the light and helping create momentum for others to do the same.
I try to live from the point-of-view of spirit, connected to all, making my way to the light and helping create momentum for others to do the same.
HL: What kind of kid were you? Were you always creating?
CD: Yes, I was always creating something—junk robots, books, clubhouses, etc. I preferred staying home doing art than going out to play sports with my school friends. But I became such a nerd, so eventually I joined in the fun with creative activities like skateboarding and surfing. I was a bit of a hell-raiser. For a sensitive artsy Canadian kid, Peru was a confusing place to grow up, so I built protective armour. I eventually became part of a street gang, where my destructive side could explore negativity. So art, skateboarding, surfing and gangbanging became my channels of self-expression. I learnt a lot through all of these good and bad experiences.
Chris skating the Big O pipe in Montreal, Canada.
HL: You have travelled extensively as documented in your Artventures series. What lessons have you learned from your travels?
CD: I have been to 41 different countries. Humanity is very similar at its core, but it’s the cultural differences that make us seem so different. As a traveller, that is the fun for me, to feel like I’ve arrived on a confusing alien planet. But beneath the language, religion, clothes, food, and music, we are just souls that want love, comfort and peace. Nobody wants stress or hunger or violence. It seems like world politics are upside down. Those who are supposed to take care of the people, end up doing things that place many in positions of discomfort. I feel that as a human race, we are still 16- or 17-year-olds. We’re finally starting to get it, and growing out of our immaturity, but we still have more lessons to learn before we can all just live in peace and love. Some say that humanity is naturally like that and things will never change. I totally disagree, and living with such pessimism is not a life worth living!
Beneath the language, religion, clothes, food, and music, we are just souls that want love, comfort and peace. Nobody wants stress or hunger or violence.
HL: What is your favourite place in the world?
CD: I can’t choose one place that is better than another. There are so many beautiful places that are great for different reasons. Of course, I love my own city of Montreal. And my Peruvian home. This year, I had the blessing of travelling around India and later Jordan. Both countries where super gorgeous and full of beautiful colour. But the list never ends! There is too much beauty on this planet!
World traveler Chris visiting the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India.
HL: You do a lot of murals using spray paint. Do you identify as a graffiti artist?
CD: Not really. I’ve been spray painting a lot of murals lately, but I would still consider myself to be an acrylic paint canvas painter first. I enjoy spray painting because it is fast and big. I can do a big bold statement so fast that I can also let it go. I can sell it easy or give it away to some community. Canvases, on the other hand, take me so long to perfect that I need to be compensated properly for that effort. Another thing I like about murals is they communicate with so many people on the street, who didn’t expect to interact with the images. Art for the people, for free, no need to buy it or go anywhere to view it.
Mural painting at the Electric Forest music festival. Photo: @jakewestphoto
HL: What is your favourite colour?
CD: Yellow, the colour of the sun and of happiness.
It feels good, expansive, giving, yet embracive. It’s relaxing and bright and yummy. It’s why we are here—to experience it, share it, grow it, become it.
HL: Congratulations on your engagement. What does love mean to you?
CD: Love is a difficult word to describe. It’s like trying to describe what God is, because God is so big. It’s a feeling, I guess. It feels good, expansive, giving, yet embracive. It’s relaxing and bright and yummy. It’s why we are here—to experience it, share it, grow it, become it. Yes, we’re here to become God.
Chris and fiancée Arianne feeling bright and yummy.
HL: What does your home in Montreal mean to you?
CD: I’ve been living in Montreal since 2000 and the roots are settled. This summer, I bought my first apartment in the Plateau. I Love this city! I love my home; it’s a place of love. I love my neighbourhood, Lafontaine Park, having breakfast on Saturdays, skating the Big O, seeing my friends, working in my studio, etc.
Every step counts, every lesson is appreciated. If somebody just gave me success and all the answers in a day, there would be no reason to keep moving forward.
HL: We first met in 2004 when we interviewed you for our Media Issue (Heads Magazine Vol. 4 Issue 8). We’ve been fans ever since. What do you know now—15 years later—that you wish you knew then?
CD: I was so stoked to get so many pages to talk about and show my art! I was fresh out of school and you guys where my first magazine to go full on with an article. Only thing is I wish you gave me the cover (ha! ha!). I am happy with what I knew and didn’t know then. It was all part of the process. Every step counts, every lesson is appreciated. If somebody just gave me success and all the answers in a day, there would be no reason to keep moving forward. It’s good to find your completion, while accepting that things are never complete because change is permanent.
Chris creating custom artwork on the Heads X Satori Movement mini-skateramp at the 2006 Seattle Hempfest.
HL: At the 2006 Seattle Hempfest, you did some custom artwork on a mini-skateramp Heads built with Satori Movement. What does the skateboard community mean to you?
CD: That was a good time. I find “skateboarding” and the “skateboard community” to be two different things. I started skating in ‘87 when every skater was your best friend, just because there where so few of us. Now there are so many, and everybody is part of a different gang or brand. I find lots of competition and ego. So I hang out with old-schoolers that are just stoked to see a 40-year-old out on a session with nothing to prove. Skateboarding itself is pure, a spiritual meditation and act of fun and presence. The rest is just details.
Skateboarding itself is pure, a spiritual meditation and act of fun and presence.
HL: We often ask people we interview what they do to relax. You seem so chill all the time. What stresses you? What are your biggest concerns?
CD: I actually work a lot. My work is my passion, but there are definitely a lot of business issues I have to deal with and stress comes along with that. People who steal from me and such. I just try to have a good attitude about it. Forgive people who stress me out and try to find ways to discontinue working with individuals who don’t respect my boundaries. I don’t have big concerns because I trust that whatever the universe serves me will be for my ultimate benefit, even if it doesn’t look like it at the moment. I try to stay in a place of gratitude, no matter what.
Chris has been hand-painting skateboards since 1999.
HL: Tell us about your Positive Creations line of apparel, accessories and home décor?
CD: Well, Positive Creations is a brand I have been developing since 2004. It has had many incarnations but in a nutshell it is clothing and accessories with my art. A lot of the garments are eco-friendly and we plant trees to balance out our use of resources. We try to keep it quality, beautiful and original. Check them out at www.positivecreations.net
I started working with the holy medicine of Ayahuasca in my late 30s. It really helped me then, and six years later I still do ceremonies to help me weed out my mental bullshit and negative programming.
HL: You’ll be heading back to the jungles of Peru in December for your next Healing Visions Art and Medicine Retreat. What inspired you to begin holding these retreats?
CD: I started working with the holy medicine of Ayahuasca in my late 30s. It really helped me then, and six years later I still do ceremonies to help me weed out my mental bullshit and negative programming. There’s so much work to do on ourselves. My life is hectic, busy and full of ego attacks. So my end-of-year ceremonies are a nice recapitulation and an antivirus cleanse. These jungle visits eventually turned into retreats where I teach art, because all of humanity needs healing right now. The only way we are truly going to save the planet is if we heal our many wounds and start creating a world from that higher place. There’s lots of work to be done and I just do what I can with those few who join me.
Dyer receives guidance from a shaman during an Ayahuasca ceremony in the jungles of Peru.
HL: What has ayahuasca taught you? What is your relationship with cannabis and other entheogens?
CD: Ayahuasca has taught me that we are eternal, infinite, light. It asks me to stop over-identifying with the aspects that make me be in the physical world, like my ego and body. That isn’t me; it’s just this temporal vehicle in a fraction of reality. It has also taught me that I am a servant. I am here to serve. All I accomplish means nothing if I just do it for my ego. Anything that I accomplish in the name of the evolution of humanity is so much bigger and more meaningful. I don’t really smoke weed anymore. When I do, I am asked by my inner-self not to do it. It does open a very spiritual side of me, but it also removes me from my balance and centeredness. It’s a personal thing and that doesn’t mean that cannabis is not positive for others. I feel I had my time with her, learnt my lessons and now I’d rather find my peace by meditating or just being present. I feel real high right now for example, just answering these questions.
Plants can’t be illegal. People have the right to experiment with their own consciousness, to feel joy and pain.
HL: Thoughts on legalization? Should other entheogens be legalized?
CD: Yes, plants can’t be illegal. People have the right to experiment with their own consciousness, to feel joy and pain, to learn from these alien entities and move forward into a more refined version of themselves through them.
Dyer at home in Montreal.
HL: Who inspires you?
CD: My friends Alex and Allyson Grey are very inspiring! Their CoSM project is something I really respect and why I go there once a year to contribute to that spiritual art cause. I recently saw the Kevin Hart interview on Joe Rogan, and that dude really inspired me. I didn’t know he was so positive! And so many others.
HL: What is your advice to friends pursuing an artist’s career?
CD: Don’t worry, be happy! Do art for the joy of creation and self-expression! Yes, we need to make money too, so work hard to figure out that part of the equation. But never stop giving thanks for the blessing of being a creator!
Find out more about Chris Dyer at: www.positivecreations.ca
And follow him on Instagram at: @chris_dyer