The Maker Behind Digital Printing at Ion Art

Chris working in the Ion Art shop cutting out his vinyl sticker creation

ABOVE: Chris, Ion Art. Click on the links to check out his style on work pants & work shirts.

MEET CHRIS & LEARN ABOUT HIS CRAFT

Where He Works

Company
Ion Art
Founders
Sharon & Greg K.
Location
Austin, Texas
Established
1986
Chris's Position
Vinyl Dept. Manager

Founded in 1986 with the vision of creating neon art, Greg and Sharon never knew that their business, Austin’s Ion Art, would grow into what it is today. The husband-and-wife team now employ a broad range of artists with one main thing in common—being passionate about the work they do. Although neon art was their original goal, it has taken a monumental turn to creating all kinds of art by artists with a broad range of skills—including Chris Howard’s subset of digital printing.

Chris’s workspace, colleagues and environment work to inspire.

What He Does

It’s probably a safe bet that the words “digital printing” conjure up a lot of different things in people’s minds. A quick Google Image search of the words “digital printing art” turns up everything from colorfully-drawn foxes to surreal landscapes being displayed in places like art gallery walls, classrooms and offices. It’s pretty eclectic. It makes sense then that Chris, the Vinyl Department Manager and musician working at Ion Art, would have his own idea of what the words “digital printing” means.

To me, it’s stickers. So, it’s always been kind of about giant stickers. I love stickers and my dad always had stickers on his toolboxes and cars and stuff. Just being brought in and seeing how it all worked was really cool and interesting.

Working with giant stickers requires giant spaces.

How He Got There

Chris describes his onboarding to Ion Art in pretty non-traditional terms. He describes being “head-hunted” and then being asked to “audition” for two weeks before finally landing the gig. It’s not just the job, though, that’s exciting to him—it’s the opportunity to experience and influence the broader Austin culture through his work.

All kinds of people come through town and there’s all this work that flies around and you get to do all these jobs. And they’re kinda sexy sometimes! My wife gets tired of me saying ‘Hey I made that sign!’ every time we drive by one.

All it takes to get the job done: computer, tools and talent.

Although his wife is used to seeing his signs all over town, Greg & Sharon remain excited with the skills Chris brings to the table. You wouldn’t believe how much vinyl printing there is out there, and they’re lucky to have someone so talented and passionate about his work on the team. There’s a reason Chris loves working at Ion Art though—where flexibility is key.

My favorite part of it, interestingly enough, is you get to do a lot of side work. So, I do a lot of work here but I also do a lot of work for places like ACL [Austin City Limits] and SXSW.

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