Collection by Miyoko Ohtake

The Making of Dwell with Chris Gardner


To open our September 2009 apartment-themed issued, we dreamed up Dwell’s ideal apartment. Not content to play mere decorator, we tried on the role of developer and enlisted architect Craig Steely to design our multiunit abode and illustrator Chris Gardner to put the proposal on paper and give the concept some color.

Gardner is a master of illustration and one of the top talents at House Industries. A lifelong East Coaster born in Pennsylvania and now living in Delaware, Gardner got his start in the industry he dreamed of being a part of throughout his entire childhood: comic book illustration. After several years of 18- to 20-hour-long days, he found a home at House. Here, we give you an insight into Gardner’s career, inspirations, and aspirations as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of his “Apartment Fancy” illustration.

“For this project, [design director] Kyle [Blue] already had the architectural references for me, so to start, I asked...
“I always have a big pad of standard tracing paper and do all of my sketches with pencil on paper,” Gardner says.
“After I work everything out on tracing paper, I go to the ink,” Gardner says. “I use a Hammermill illustration board.
“Ninety-five percent of everything I do is done with a brush,” Gardner says.
“When I do the final inking, I have a general idea of the color scheme,” Gardner says.
“To do the color, I separate the sections from the whole,” Gardner says.
“This illustration took me about seven nights’ worth of work to complete,” Gardner says.
“The color scheme I imagined was orange, pink, and magenta, really bright and colorful,” Gardner says.

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