Adrian Chrissos (he/him/his)
“There are feelings, stories, triumphs and failures behind each work of art.”
Adrian is a self-taught artist who paints to heal. Born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Adrian was introduced to art during middle school. As a teenager, Adrian was diagnosed with a mental illness and looked for ways to cope with the difficult symptoms he felt. Through his formative years, Adrian went through a tumultuous rollercoaster which led him into substance use addiction.
In the past, he experienced countless hospitalizations and found himself homeless at times due to difficulties maintaining housing and steady employment. Today, Adrian has survived addiction and lives stably with his mental illness. Adrian now celebrates over 3 years of sobriety, lives with a loving partner and looks forward to waking up everyday.
Through sobriety, Adrian has returned to artmaking and found a new sense of purpose to create. He shares that artmaking “has helped me learn to trust, love, and above all... survive.” He uses creation as an ongoing therapy to reflect on what he has gone through in the past, analyze the present and move towards the future. He loves that art is endless, leaving infinite possibilities for his imagination.
“I’ve often struggled with feeling unseen and unheard. In the past, I’ve felt like I am not progressing, I am not serving anyone and I can barely serve myself. When I create art, I feel like I’ve made something come to life in the world. I now see the growth and the beauty in my struggle. I believe there are no accidents. Art is a way of being vulnerable. Art is a way to communicate when words are not enough. Art makes me feel seen and heard.”
Before starting a piece, Adrian studies an image for weeks at a time. This allows him to stay with the subject and meditate on the qualities that he hopes to bring to the piece. He recognizes that the piece will often turn out differently than what he envisions, but appreciates this time of preparation. When he feels a sense of contentment, he picks up his palette knife and unleashes.
Palette knives and fluid ink are among his favorite materials to work with. Palette knives offer variation in size and texture, as well as allow him to create intentional strokes. Fluid ink, on the other hand, offers less predictability and control, but creates vibrant patterns. The combination of these two materials merge to create a composition that is purposeful but also lends its final form to nature and the properties of the capricious ink. Adrian has been developing this style for years, and feels that the fluid inks create a more spiritual basis, while the paint on the palette knives helps to tell the story and overall meaning of the piece.
Adrian uses his life experiences, the experiences of those around him and even the life experiences of strangers to inspire his work. For him, the biggest influence on his work now is sobriety. He shares, “I have learned so much from being sober and free of drugs going on 3+ years. I am moving forward.” Adrian’s hope is that the viewer can identify with the emotion attached to each piece. He also wishes for people to see folks with mental illness and substance use addictions in a different light.
Adrian was a member of ArtLifting in the past but took time off to work on himself. He now rejoins with great passion and determination to continue his career. “ArtLifting is a place where I feel deeply connected to. An organization that cares about people with disabilities. And a big part of my life because of the past success I had with Artlifting where I opened up a business and showed people that things were actually possible for anyone with a disability,” he explains.
He is excited to open a new chapter of his career to provide himself with greater independence. He currently works as a massage therapist, but also hopes to go back to school for acupuncture to expand his ways of helping others. When he is not creating, he enjoys hiking, cooking, and having art parties at his home with his partner, Kristin.
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by disabilities and housing insecurity by connecting their art with socially-conscious customers . Learn more here.