Being active on Twitter means you come across lots of creative and talented people. Recently my eye was drawn towards Chimo (@chimo55jimbo) who creates retro inspired shadowboxes in his spare time. We think they look stunning and would look great in anyone’s gaming area. Here we have a chat all about the man himself and what inspires him to create the work he does.
Hi Chimo, thanks for joining me today to chat about your work. For starter why don’t you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Hello! My name is Chimo and I have been a video game fan since I was a little kid and I played for the very first time in my hands a NES. The first game I played was Super Mario Bros 1, and for this reason it will always be my favourite video game ever.
Nowadays I still love to play several consoles and of course to keep informed about gaming and retro gaming news and articles.
How long have you been creating your art?
First of all, I don’t like referring myself as an artist, because I think the true artists here are the designers who created the original video games 30/20 years ago. I’d rather to be considered an artisan who enjoys cutting pixels and mounting shadowboxes in his spare time, translating to the “real-life” the scenes and characters which form part of my past as a player.
I started cutting silhouettes in 2015, and as I loved them so much , I took pictures of them and shared them with my Instagram friends. Soon after that, I thought it could be a great idea to put these sprites in shadowboxes, recreating moments and scenes of the games. My Instagram followers started to grow and they encouraged me to open an Etsy shop, which I didn’t do until six months ago (I took my time hahaha).
Where do you draw your inspiration from to create your pieces? I can see you are into gaming but are there any specific genres that inspire you to draw or is it a case of recreating iconic or memorable pieces?
My major inspiration are my favourite video games, which are obviously the Nintendo ones, because I’ve spent my whole life collecting its consoles and games. Sometimes I recreate iconic scenes, but other times I like to reinterpret a moment, adding characters which aren’t really there, for example. I also appreciate when my followers and friends give me their opinions and thoughts about any game in particular, which I try to do for them, because I don’t want to do only what I love, but what the other people want to see.
Your style really stands out and is quite unique, where has this style come from and why do you choose to use this for your art?
Oh, thank you so much Stephen for these words. Well, as I’ve told you I’m a bit embarrassed when someone call me an “artist”, but there is something I’m really proud of, and it’s that I always pay extreme attention and care of all the details, although it means that I may spend hours in a single shadowbox. But it has to be perfect in every tiny aspect. I’m aware that my shadowboxes are a bit different than others in the market because I work with a material so very different than paper. It is a rigid plastic material which is so hard to cut, but I love the final result because the colours are so vivid and the material is long-lasting and resists humidity so well.
I’m very much a perfectionist in every part of the process of creating the shadowboxes: I even package the item the best I can to assure that it will travel safely overseas or whatever they go, because one of my top goals is that my customers receive the shadowboxes in their best shape, and feel 100% satisfied about their purchase.
Would you mind telling me how long it takes to create a piece and a rough outline of how you do it?
Well, I think I’ve revealed a bit in the previous answer, hahaha. Basically there are 3 big steps in the work: first, I use the computer to emulate the video games and I use photoshop to design the scene. The second part is to print all the material into the rigid plastic, which is easy for me because I own a print shop. The third part is the most complicated of all, because it includes cutting out every single pixel of the sprite manually with a cutter and a scalpel (I couldn’t sell an item if the borders weren’t perfectly cut), to paint carefully the borders, to screw every sprite to the vinyl printed backgrounds, and to mount all of it into the deep frame.
It’s a slow process, and that’s why I only put a single shadowbox at a time in my Etsy shop, it’s not a serial production but a handcrafted process. I want my customers to know that what they have in their hands is a unique piece, manually made and only for them. There aren’t a hundred or more copies of my shadowboxes around the world, but only a few of each design.
Nintendo features heavily in what you create, is this something that inspires you from your gaming background or is it because of the bright and bold worlds that they create?
I am a proud Nintendo fan since I was a kid. Nintendo has provided me with hours and hours of entertainment and joy, and I’m so fond to this company. 95% of my video games are Nintendo’s, for example. Anyway, I try not to focus exclusively in the NES and SNES games because the other companies have also many great titles in their catalogues which I’m trying to put in my shadowboxes.
What systems/games did you grow up playing and does this play a part in deciding what to create next?
Although NES and SNES has had a big influence in me, I try to give some space for other systems, so I read old magazines, I follow Twitter accounts focused on retro gaming, and I also have periodical meetings with retro gamers to play their old consoles. All of that inspires me every day.
What games and console do you play today?
Nowadays I’m hooked on Zelda Wind Waker HD (Wii U), and I always carry with me a GameBoy Color to play a quick game in the short moments. I also enjoyed playing Red Dead Redemption and I’m looking forward to finishing the sequel.
Your art is heavily retro based, why is that?
I think the nostalgia is a deep feeling, at least it is for me, and I love to pay tribute to those games of our pasts. It has also to do with my way of working, because it is impossible for me to to cut polygonal designs in my material.
Is there anything you haven’t made that you would like to create? Are there any modern genres/titles that you would like to recreate?
I’m constatly thinking of new shadowboxes. I’m focused right now in retro gaming, for example I’m going to make an Alien one and a Super Contra one, among others. Regarding the modern titles, I pay so much attention to those which are retro-based.
What do you do day to day (i.e. the day job)
Leaving aside the printing work and focusing on the chimo55jimbo shop, first thing in the morning is to check Etsy and to answer the comments in all my social media. My girlfriend, who is the best Donkey Kong player in the world, does this job. I basically spend the time making the shadowboxes which have been ordered, and creating new designs in the computer (the best part of that is that I have to play the games to get to the right scene :D).
What are your aspirations for your art? Where would you like to see yourself a few years down the line in terms of creating art?
I am a very simple person, without big aspirations. I only want to be happy and have a quiet life with my girlfriend, to see our favourite movies and tv shows, to read a book while sunbathing, and to play videogames. Making these shadowboxes started as a hobby and now I’m combining it with my main job, which is the print shop. I don’t have any hurry, I like to go step by step, and just see where the life leads me.