Drawing On The Black Top: Interview With Chalk Twins Devon And Lexi Fulmer

GameStop, Inc.

On the convention floor you meet many artists and writers displaying their works to be admired and purchased. The problem is that there is so much eye candy I never look down. At a recent convention, I was distracted by a huge, gorgeous mural I saw from  a distanceDSC_0209_2_small so I headed towards it. The only problem was when I approached it I accidentally stepped on Lexi and Devon Fulmer’s artwork. The twins were drawing on the floor sketching out another chalk masterpiece.   For five minutes, we stared in horror at each other. Pikachu’s face was blacked out by my shoe print. The great thing about chalk, however, is that it can easily be wiped away and you can start over. After my profuse apologies, my new friends the Chalk Twins, Devon and Lexi, gave me my own chalk and drawing tablet. My really bad Tinkerbell will never see the light of day, but my interview with the Chalk Twins is below.

Whitney Grace (WG): Which of you came up with Chalk Twins idea and please explain what you do?

Devon and Lexi Fulmer the Chalk Twins (CT): Well, we have been working together since high school when we started participating in local chalk art festivals in Orlando. That experience helped us become comfortable with working on large scale murals with an audience viewing our process. After we graduated from college with our degrees in art, Lexi was the one who stumbled upon an ad for a convention looking for artists. Our work there was very well received and our participation in other conventions started snowballing.

WG: How did both of you get started in art?

CT: We have both been interested in art since we could first hold a crayon in our hands. We loved coloring, drawing, painting, and all arts and crafts. It wasn’t until high school that we started seriously thinking about a career in art. Our teacher showed us a wide range of media and taught us to never be afraid of a large canvas. Both of those factors were a great help inDSC_1346_small our careers today. Getting our degrees in fine art also greatly improved our technical skill, creativity, and knowledge of art history.

WG: Most twins tend to follow different interests, but you two are identical and geeky.  Why do you think you two turned out to be similar in more than just your biological make-up?

CT: That’s very hard to say, because we aren’t psychologists! We know a number of twins who have very different passions, but we were always each other’s best friend so growing up, we tended to do everything together. We guess because of that, we would always watch the same shows (like Power Rangers, Gargoyles, and Pokémon) and became interested in a lot of the same things.

WG: What type of chalk do you use for your art?

CT: For our work, we actually use soft pastels/chalk pastels. Basically they just have a different binder and much more pure pigment in them than your everyday children’s sidewalk chalk. We are always experimenting with our chalk and have a number of brands that we like depending on what we are working on at the time.

WG: What franchises are you fans of and what do you get asked to draw the most?

CT: We think you can see what franchises we like based on our art. We watch every fandom we draw. We are big fans of anything from Disney to Star Trek to Lord of the Rings. Though we have only been watching anime for the past few years, we greatly enjoy it and are trying to watch as much as we can. Our favorite shows are Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Fate/Zero. What we get asked to draw the most depends on what is popular at the time. Right now we are getting a lot of requests for Attack on Titan.

WG: At conventions I’ve seen you work on one big mural.  How do you decide what to draw and how do you design it?

CT: We try to tailor our choice of what to draw and our design to each convention. Sometimes they tell us a theme they have (like Zombie or Edo Japan) but mostly we try to pick shows and games that we think attendees of the convention will enjoy seeing.

WG: Do you ever face any copyright problems?

IMG_1111_2_smallCT: It hasn’t really been a problem. Ideally we would like to be granted the right to create large murals of the shows since what we are doing is somewhat unique and transformative, and doesn’t have much of an effect on the copyright owners potential market. What we do is fanart and is tolerated by the copyright owners. Of course, we always try our best to give proper credit.

WG: While I know it varies, how long does it take to draw pieces?

CT: It can vary a great deal! Depending on the complexity of the piece, it can take anywhere from eight to forty hours.

WG: Do you divide the responsibilities for drawing, i.e. Is one of you better at sketching and another coloring?

CT: We always try to divide our work 50/50. Devon does most of the initial sketching. When we are coloring, we tend to divide up the work by Lexi doing all the skin, hair, and faces of the characters, while Devon takes all the clothes and fabric. Then we split up the background to make it even. We do it this way to make it look cohesive and like one artist has done the entire piece.

WG: What do you like about using chalk as a medium?

CT: For us, our favorite thing about chalk is that it feels like we are combining painting and drawing. We get the richness of colors that you would out of oil paints, but because we are using our hands to blend, we feel like we have a lot of control over how we move the chalk and we feel very connected to our piece. Not to mention we also enjoy getting a little messy.

WG: How do geeks react to your work?

CT: Most geeks seem to geek out over our work-and we love it! Our work sparks conversations with people about what they and we are passionate about. They also seem to enjoy that we draw a wide range of fandoms. One of the things we love most though is the opportunity to influence young geeks. Because we work on the ground, children can approach us very easily. We try to be positive influences to children and promote the continuation of traditional art.

WG: How do you two market yourselves?  Do you do your own representation or do you have a booking agent?

CT: Doing our live art is in itself one of our main ways we market ourselves. By attending events and conventions, event organizers from other shows see what we bring to the event and invite us to attend their event. Marketing ourselves has been a big learning process and it is something we continue to work on everyday.

WG: How have you grown with your Chalk Twins identities since you started?

CT: Since we have started as the Chalk Twins two years ago, we have learned a great deal – not only about our technique and medium we use, but also about the world of conventions and fandom. We have learned about business and how to be more professional. We have come a long way from where we started and we hope to look back in another two years and feel the same way about where we are now.

WG: Where do you want to go with your chalk drawing career?DSC_0250_3_small

CT: Right now, we are working on a few personal series that we hope to enter into galleries and exhibitions. Conventions are fun and great to be a part of, but corporate work really pays the bills and that is something we hope to expand in the next few years.

WG: What types of surfaces do you prefer to draw on?

CT: While we usually draw on masonite board or concrete, our favorite surface to work on is pastelboard, which holds the chalk really well.

WG: What are you favorite things to draw?

CT: We love drawing people and figures, no matter if the style is cartoony or realistic.

WG: Lastly, anything to declare?

CT: We love our job, and we hope people get the chance to come out and see us and get inspired by what we do!

 

 

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