Paris Christou is the mad scientist behind the infamous Cherry pinups. He is also the owner of ToonboxStudio.com which features some really awesome, in depth video courses on illustration. Check out his website to see more of his work and definitely check out the How to Draw Cherry 8 Hour Mega Course! THis is by far one of the best pinup illustration courses on line.
How long have you been doing pinup and how did you get started?
I’ve been doing pinups for fun around 16 years and as a profession for about 6 years. I got started by just enjoying drawing women i knew in a cartoon form and that just got popular through my circle which helped bring in requests for quick cash in the early stages of my career.
How did you stumble upon your unique style?
My style developed over the years and it just keeps on developing as i explore new techniques through practice. My influence was Tex Avery and Disney artists.
Is this your full time gig or do you do other things?
No, my background is animation. Pinups was just my extra service including other services. Ever since i built my name on YouTube for my pinup character Cherry… People from around the globe have started to see me as a cartoon pinup artists which i have concentrated on the past 2 years.
What is your typical process/workflow?
For pinup art… My process starts with a quick brainstorm of an idea that comes to mind, looking for references and inspiration. Then i usually take photos with my phone using a friend or my wife or sometimes myself to capture a pose, gesture and expression. Once i have the idea… I start some quick thumbnail sketches until i have the my final vision drawn out which then leads to sketching it out in a large format, cleaning it up and rendering it.
Who has been your biggest creative influence?
In general i would say, Tex Avery, Chuck jones, Chris Sanders, Dean Yeagle, J Scott Campbell.
Who is your fav artists at the moment?
My all time favorite artist would have to be Glen Keane who is a legend in animation! The man is light years ahead of the average artist, he has mastered the art of motion and emotion which is probably the hardest task for an artist.
How do you overcome those times when the creative spirit has left the building?
Good question! I usually just stop what i’m doing and throw on the Xbox to clear my mind LOL.
Then i would look through my comments that my followers leave on YouTube to get motivated.
What do you do when you’re not painting hot babes? What is a day in the life for you like?
Well if we are talking about art… I have tons of projects like creating Online Courses, animated series, commercials, Children’s story books, mobile app artwork, slapstick comics etc. My general life is composed with many hobbies like sports, i love playing soccer! I play music, Salsa dancing, gym, martial arts, video games freak! water sports, family fun, reading and studying business and marketing.
Most inspirational food, drink, other? What has to be on the desk at all times for you to get into the flow?
Just water! When i am working i only have water unless it’s really late at night… And i might have some Coca Cola to give me energy.
Mac or PC? Other Hardware?
I have a Mac at the studio and a PC at home. I use a Wacom Cintiq 24 HD to draw with.
Current software of choice?
I only use Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for illustration. For animation i use Flash, Toon Boom Animate Pro and Digicel FlipBook Pro.
Do you draw, paint traditional or just digital?
Because it is my full time job… I am forced to draw digitally. I do draw with traditional mediums but not so often as i would like to.
Tell me about your main character Cherry. How did that evolve?
Cherry was roughly created a long time ago but she was a black haired gypsy girl, lol. As time went by… I gave her red hair and named her “Red”, She looked nothing like todays Cherry. When i started the youtube channel… Her hair started to change color towards a cherry color which then changed her name to Cherry 🙂
When i noticed that people were interested in my speed sketches on YouTube… That forced me to draw her each week for my channel and through time slowly developing her. If she was a character for a real production, i would have spent the whole day for a couple months drawing her to develop her instead of an hour each week for youtube that took 2 years to develop.
Tell me about Toonbox Studio. You have some awesome drawing course on there. I see you have some more in the works?
ToonBoxStudio website started because of my followers on YouTube, they all liked my style and wanted to learn! I remember when i was a young teenager and in my days desperate and hungry to learn, the internet was not so strong. I had to learn from books which was terrible. There is nothing better than to learn by watching an artist in action which was always something that i wished for. So i wanted to help everyone worldwide by creating hours of video demonstration and explanation in an easy step by step method. It’s a huge opportunity that i wish i had for myself back when i first started to learn. My goal is to cover cartoon illustration and animation which consists of many topics which will help grow their skills. Right now i am working on a comic strip course and 2D animation which will be a lot of fun!
Do you feel like you get more recognition for your courses or for your art?
In the business world… A lot of companies and circles know me for my artwork/services and they don’t even know about my courses. But the rest of the world who has no relevance with business, know me for my Cherry artwork and ever since i released my courses… Being in the top 50 best selling courses worldwide on payloadz got me a lot of recognition. Cherry has played a huge part in the past 2 years for recognition, she attracts around 5000 new followers each month at this present time.
You also do a lot of other products. Which have been your most successful?
I am working on new courses and to also bring in strong artists to help share their knowledge. Creating merchandise for the ToonBoxStudio brand and Cherry since a lot of people have been requesting it, but i am holding it off until we grow a bigger audience. I am also creating an online school to be even more effective towards helping others learn with a one-on-one basis. As for the most successful product i would have to say that the How to Draw Cherry course and the Cartoon Animals course were very successful! But they are nothing compared to what i have planned for the near future.
What does the future hold for you? What are you working on next?
I am in the works of creating the “Cherry Animated Series” which is very exciting. The show will be launched on YouTube. The show will consist of short 3 minute animated gags with Cherry and her quirky personality. That is all i can give away right now about the show.
Is there any promotional/marketing advice you would like to offer to other artists?
Oh yeah! I can talk for hours on this subject. But to be brief… Take advantage of the web! Get involved with youtube and social networks!!! Their are tons of traffic that can get you kickstarted! Join Deviantart and get involved with groups and collaborate with other artists. It’s free and easy to do, in time you will see the magic happen.
How do you handle it when people who use your work without your permission? What is your method for protecting your work?
Well, you can never be fully aware of whats going on around you. My real artwork that i Cherish have never been uploaded and is saved and stored. The rest of my artwork that is online, can be shared and used for their personal use but not sold since that is one of my biggest marketing ideas 😉
Just when they thought they were stealing from me…. They were actually advertising me in some way or another.
Protecting your work isn’t easy… You can add a big faded logo smacked in the middle of your work so that it will be useless to who ever is stealing it. And you can get a lawyer to copyright your work. In my case…. Cherry has appeared every where and who ever sees it, knows who drew it. My brand and characters are copyrighted so i have the right to charge for theft.
What words of advice would you give to someone just starting out as an artist/pinup artist?
My advice is to spend at least 3 hours a day to practice if you want to improve fast! Copying someones style and techniques is not a crime! Learning styles from other artists who inspire you will help you learn. I remember when i was a teenager, i would volunteer for work experience at animation studios serving coffee and tea just to observe other professionals in the studio. Take classes, learn fundamentals, life drawing and above all….. Have fun! 🙂