Chris Costan

I’m a New York artist who spent a month as a guest resident at Lichtenberg Studios in Berlin.  Although I use a myriad of colors in my artwork, For years, I have had a strong interest in the “colors of skin” in some of my paintings/works on paper.  

Needing jobs to support myself, I have had 2 major day jobs in my life.  The first was at MTV Animation working as head colorist on the animated film,  BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD DO AMERICA as well as DARIA, an animated television program. At the MTV job, there were a few colors decided upon to denote racial differences, I was always curious about them. We used these colors to denote the skin colors of the characters.  The other day job (that I worked at for 13 years) was as Color Designer for a fashion brand, also in New York.  This job involved designing color palettes for women’s clothing, but the job also involved trending styles and color trend research. This research was often thought-provoking as I could see meaning  in some of the reasons why a fashion style or color could be imbued into the public’s psyche.  Often the trends begin on the street, with the “people” dictating those trends.   I found that current events, politics and the general mood of the population can effect both color and style trends. 

On a daily basis, the fashion job caused me to think about skin colorings and clothing choices within different skin types.  My thinking continued further.  A trend involving skin tones used as colors in fashion clothing began to be in favor roughly 8 years ago and this trend continues on to today. My thinking was that maybe a focus on racial diversity and awareness was bringing these skin or cosmetic colors to the fore, as concerns on racial issues became more pronounced in the societies of the western world. Additionally, I’m intrigued that the tones relating to skin coloring offer an array of subtle colors all affected by the type of melanin/genetics in play.  

I live in diverse NYC and I’m visiting a city, Berlin where many varieties of skin color also co-exist. As I walked and walked throughout the Lichtenberg district of Berlin, I made mental notes of the types of skin colors that I saw. Back in the studio, I decided that I would paint the seen colors individually.  I then created 25 pieces on paper featuring the colors that I saw (real or imagined).  

These painted skin colors appear in locations within Lichtenberg, thereby using public space to create a dialogue with the people of the area. 

The surface skin colors chosen, demonstrate the varieties of colors appearing on the exteriors of our bodies, while the body’s interior colors (the colors of organs, skin and blood) are all the same.

February, 2020