They say content is king, but I believe its connection. I think design has to connect with people just like we connect with each other. Our favorite bands, brands, jeans, cars…whatever—they become our favorite because we connect with them and enter into a relationship with them. It's not about what things are, it's about the meaning we apply to them. And that’s how they become valuable to us, we relate to them. We are a relational animal. Our deepest need is to feel known and to be known by others.
I think the way to success is and will always be authenticity and intimacy through our own voice, that’s the only way we can really connect with others. As long as we are making things for humans, that’ll work.
I named my practice after my Xbox gamer tag “chrisolux”. Because my name, Chris Thompson, is hard to own on the internet, there’s like a billion of us. Look me up and lets play.
About a week after graduating I found myself on the hood of an undercover police car about to be arrested with James Victore.
I went to work with James in NYC about week after I graduated from Portfolio Center in Atlanta. My time with him was amazing. We worked closely for years. He taught me the things he had learned in his life, was brutally honest with feedback, and was generous enough to throw me in the fire and let me figure it out. We worked on dream jobs, put on workshops and developed content. Check out Burning Questions on youtube if you haven’t already.
But it was always something new and different, I grew so much in that time. The lessons I learned from James and in New York have defined me as the designer and teacher I am today. I got to work with and meet all my heroes, and I learned their insecurities were the same as mine. And, really, nobody knows shit we are all just trying to figure it out.
I’ll pass on what James told me… steal. Steal from the people you like, take everything. Don’t worry about being an imposter, you are drawn to your people, take from them. After a while, you’ll start to do your own thing with the style or the way of working. But in the beginning you have to steal, that’s how you learn. And that’s how it works.
So I took everything I could from the people I admired. Now, I do my own things with it. And I grow. Anything else is judgmental bullshit, and there’s no room for that in my life.
I moved back to Nashville to be the teacher I needed way back when.
And to master anything, I believe you have to teach it. Currently, I teach design at Nossi College of Art, a little school here in Nashville, and lead workshops with clients and other agencies. I like to work people through the hang-ups that keep them from being truly creative. I don’t think I have to teach anyone or add to them to be creative, its more like I have to help them remove some things they need to let go of for their creativity to come out.
Its the negative internal voice that I find in most people, the one that says we’re not good enough, that we’re wrong, or that we have to be right all the time that keeps us from true creativity. Its those kinds of hang-ups that really get in the way, mainly because they're not true. So I focus on self-love and teach from a spiritual and psychological perspective, I bring in things from the Bible, Buddhism, Rilke, Rumi, and the Yoga Sutras (yes I teach yoga too).
I think teaching, when done properly, is where the teacher learns the most. Teaching keeps me present and in the moment, in the flow. I don’t prepare for my classes, yet all the right things always come up. Its a reminder that in the creative process, in the classroom, and in life, I always have everything I need when I’m present and in the moment.
My latest project was for the Ryman Auditorium here in Nashville. A dream come true for me, its the place where country music started, where the Grand Ole Opry started, they call it the Mother Church of country music. It’s sacred ground for music. And it was fun and an honor to give them something of me.