Kristopher Bazen a.k.a. Baze

Where do I begin? I guess you could say it started at 3684 Millvale in Canton, OH… That’s the first time this little fat boy, with an affinity for Michael Jackson, kool-aid, and Mr.T haircuts, remembers putting crayons to paper. Although I can’t actually recall the subject matter, I smile when I recall the feeling I got when my mother complimented my drawings and added works to my first gallery, the fridge.

Over the years, I spent countless hours drawing on the back of my homework, on book covers, desks, and anything I could leave my doodles and renderings on. From Batman to Bart Simpson, I covered a broad spectrum of subjects, but everything paled in comparison to my love of drawing athletes and sports logos.

If you knew me back in middle school, you probably remember me as the kid who spent most of his time drawing pictures of Michael Jordan, Larry Johnson, Anthony Mason (it was ’91), Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets logos (don’t laugh, those drawings paid for countless Nutty Bars, chocolate milks, and Chilly Willies). As a matter of fact, I recall crying in Mrs. Becker’s class when she served me my first detention… I got popped for drawing Michael Jordan when she had warned me repeatedly about tending to “extracurricular activities” while I was supposed to be learning.

It wasn’t ’til my Freshman year at GlenOak High School that I decided to take my art seriously. I still see my Enriched Art teacher, Clyde Bowman, as an inspiration and mentor, teaching myself and others the true fundamentals of art. He also turned me on to colored pencils, which I would probably say is my favorite medium. After moving to inner city Canton in 1994, I became reserved and quiet, out of familiar surroundings. It seemed like art was my way of introducing myself to others in this new environment. While attending McKinley Sr. High, Dr. Fredlee Votaw encouraged me to think differently about art, and to expand my horizons in different mediums, such as oils and acrylics, conte, charcoal, and clay. It was also during my time at McKinley that I attended a presentation that changed my life.

A representative from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh had visited my school, speaking of life after high school and something I hadn’t thought of at all up to that point… my career. In an attempt to “pick her brain”, I asked several questions, inquiring how the skills I had possessed translated to real-life situations. That’s where I had first heard the term “Graphic Design”. Upon further investigation, it seemed that Graphic Design was the perfect fit for me. I spent the next two years preparing myself for life after Canton and in October of 1998, I caught a Greyhound bus to Pittsburgh, PA with about eighty bucks, clothes, a radio, and a burning desire to prove that this is what I was meant to do.

I would have to say the next four years were probably the best of my life. From bonding with other talented artists who were just beginning to tap into their potential, as well as being exposed to life in a big city, Pittsburgh had everything I needed. I found myself in constant “friendly competitions”, which brought out a level of ability in me that I never knew I possessed, and countless hours in computer labs, doing whatever I could to make my transition from traditional to digital art as seamless as possible. AIP also provided me the opportunity to outwardly project the voice and personality I knew I had but kept pent up inside for so long… Sometimes good, sometimes… not so much. I guess you could say this is where “Baze” was born.

During my time at the Art Institute, I had another one of those life-altering moments similar to the one I had during high school. An AIP Alumni Show was on display and in the midst of all the artworks, I was drawn to one artist in particular. His name was Tom Hoover, and I was fascinated by the level of detail, color, and life of his work… It didn’t hurt that his showcased works were portraits of athletes. So many questions… I had to meet this guy! Fortunately for me, I would get my chance…

If you want to see what I’ve been up to since that chance encounter, just click on the KPBL logo and take a look around… Enjoy!