Christopher Lee Shy was born in rural Kentucky in 1972. He is a self-taught artist, who felt a particular affinity to Andrew Wyeth, as well as Rembrandt. His first published illustrations were at the age of 17, under the pen name, Ronin. He chose the name, for both its double meaning of “A samurai who has no master.”, and its deeper meaning, “Wave man, one who is adrift.” This suited his early years as an artist, moving and sustaining himself with various labor jobs, while he illustrated as a freelancer, and taught himself to paint. In his art, Shy’s favorite subjects were the land and forests he grew up in, both in his hometown of Salt Lick Kentucky, and his early years after his family moved to Northern Wisconsin.
In the early 1990s, Shy moved to Chicago to work as a concept artist. There, he would meet Thom Miecznikowski, and Christian Gustafsson. The former would influence Shy’s use of tone, and color, as well as teach him the fundamentals of concept design and special effects, while the latter would encourage Shy to begin his study of bridging digital and traditional, going so far as to build custom equipment for Shy, based on his brushstroke’s, and method of painting digitally. The three men have maintained a lifelong friendship, and these early studies would lead to Shy’s unique style and fusing of canvas and digital.
Shy formed Studio Ronin in 1996, and under is his direction, Studio Ronin would branch into visual design, and complete work on a dozen feature films.
Shy soon emerged from among a group of young digital painters to become one of the leading figures of this early movement. His large tempura paintings would be exhibited in several cities around the world. It was at this time the first collection of his work was published, The Art of Studio Ronin, followed by simply “Ronin”. In 2001 Christopher Shy would meet Veronika Kotlajic, curator of Echo Gallery in Chicago. The gallery held the first major exhibition of Shy’s large scale paintings and under her direction would continue to expand the public’s awareness of Shy’s artwork at Echo from 2001 through 2005, and to the larger Gallery Provocateur from 2006 to present.
Also during this time, Shy would write and illustrate the first of many graphic novels, beginning with Man to Leaves; followed by its sequel, Silent Leaves in 2004. In 2005 Christopher Shy would start the graphic novel, Soul Stealer, with Michael Easton. The trilogy would take 5 years, and go on to critical acclaim. Shy would go on to co found Ronin Arts, with Philip Reed, as well as co creating Artemis Publishing, and Black Watch Comics, with Michael Easton. His next graphic novel, The North End of the World, written by Dave Hunsaker, would see Christopher Shy and Hunsaker travel to Alert Bay, on Cormorant Island, British Columbia. There, they would research The North End of the World, a fictionalized account of Edward Curtis, and his time with the Kwakwaka’wakw, written by Dave Hunsaker.
Christopher Shy is artist or author on 16 graphic novels. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his wife and son, whom is also a painter. His latest novel is called I Sleep In Stone.