Chris Veal inside Cat Eye Creative in South Downtown where his solo exhibition opens May 13. (Photo by Isadora Pennnington)

Chris Veal has always been an artist, drawing since he can remember and painting regularly for the past 17 years. A staple in the local mural scene, Veal has become known for his comic book style and subjects that poke fun at modern dilemmas. “It’s all in fun,” he said of his vibrant and bold creations.

Some of Veal’s most iconic works that you may have seen around town include the women lamenting rush hour on Boulevard just across the street from Sister Louisa’s Church and the now-buffed “I Miss Buckhead” mural on a small run down building on Ponce De Leon Avenue near The Local. Other humorous commentary seen in his work touch on topics such as pollution, cell phone addiction, romance in the age of masks, and an obvious affinity for Waffle House. 

A man of many styles and talents, what began as a one-off venture into comic book style quickly took hold when those works gained notoriety and began earning him awards. What many might not recognize quite as readily are Veal’s numerous realism works which have included portraits of Salvador Dali, Jimmy Carter, Memphis Slim, and John Lewis, among others.

Veal observes as Cat Eye Creative owner Adam Crawford hangs art for the exhibition.

”The weirdest way it has evolved is going from a hobby to my job,” Veal said. “I’m a bit of a workaholic and art has kind of turned into how I keep myself fed, sane, and happy all at the same time.” 

For the past two years, Veal has been hard at work on a solo show, “IRL,” which will debut this Friday, May 13, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Cat Eye Creative located in South Downtown at 86 Mitchell Street. This body of work, on display through May 31, represents a bit of a deviation for Veal, who can usually be found toting cans of spray paint up scaffolding to create oversized works on public walls. While this show does include a mural he is painting at the gallery, the collection of more than 20 pieces is composed of canvases that range in size from 16”x20” to 48”x72”. 

“It has been very different focusing on canvas pieces so much. Painting walls I’m normally dealing with weather and seeing more people. Murals can also be very physical with carrying paint or climbing ladders,” Veal explained. “Canvas is more relaxing at times but I can also go stir crazy being inside that much.”

Art by Chris Veal

Veal works out of his apartment in Old Fourth Ward. Located adjacent to the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine, it’s a prime spot for both people watching and freestyle BMX, another of Veal’s favorite pastimes. He has a longstanding relationship with local art supplier Sam Flax, and his preferred mediums include Montana spray paints and Nova acrylics, plus Golden fluid carbon black mixed with Montana ink.

Some of Veal’s favorite recent projects include a piece in Facebook’s local movie studio lobby as well as a series of nine murals in a parking deck at Modera Prominence in Buckhead. “Kind of like a drive through mural gallery,” said Veal, who enjoyed creating something that could be safely experienced even in COVID-times.

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.