Chris Bigalke is a man with his hands in many pies. Known to promote, manage and tour with bands—specifically Us Lights at present—he’s most recognized as a concert booker and poster designer. Under the moniker Showdeer, Bigalke has developed a distinctive style that layers vintage imagery to create texture and depth in scenes that cast a pale glow due to his habitual use of a faded color palette.
Frequently featuring illustrated animals and antique personages, oceanic or forested environs, and it wouldn’t be rock and roll without a skeleton every once in a while, Bigalke’s cohesive collages feel earthy but abstract, legible yet a potpourri of mashed together elements. Whether designing for the Red Bull Sound Selects series or countless bands and venues near and far, there’s always an organic flow to his work born of his background in drawing and painting with oils and acrylics.
First, he was Borrowdeer when “I used to run a small MP3 and vinyl record label” of the same name, Bigalke explains. When he started booking shows at the now-defunct Ella Street Social Club, the name evolved. Next came the poster making, which, stylistically, can be loosely defined as “neo-surrealistic pop art.”
Where are you from?
I grew up drawing all my life and as a skate and surf rat in Southern California.
What’s your experience and education?
I attended Brooks Institute of Photography for visual journalism in Santa Barbara in the early 2000s and also started booking bands and painting, and then moved to Portland in 2006.
How do you balance your time between all the different areas of your life?
Freelance graphic design has taken over my life and is what I do full-time now. I also find time to have multiple jobs in town—like most PDX creative folk—doing stuff we love like freelance booking, promoting, managing Us Lights [listen below], painting, creating posters. The balancing act can be tough but it feels the most fulfilling and rewarding to be constantly busy with creative projects.
How did you start making concert posters and working with bands and venues?
It all started in 2008 when my friend Richard Morgan asked me if I wanted to book bands at his new venue, Ella Street Social Club. I booked there for the four years we were open. We didn’t have a budget for poster design and most bands didn’t make their own so I just started making show posters for fun. I made about 200 of them and got good enough that other bands asked me to make them for other venues they were playing at. From there it grew and I met other venue owners and promoters all over town.
Where do you create your work?
I work from home and I love it.
What artistic techniques do you use?
My background in art comes from drawing and painting with oils and acrylics, and I feel that free and creative style translates to the poster designs, which are 75 percent of the time entirely created in Photoshop and Illustrator. I do some drawing that ends up in the designs, but a lot of the imagery is from old illustration books or royalty-free images off the net.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I just try to trust my imagination the most. There are certain painters I like, but music is what really inspires me—the bands I’m creating posters for and lots of ambient or noise stuff.
How do you spread the word about your work?
By making as much art as I can. I feel each piece acts as its own business card so each one has to be good. It works surprisingly well like that.
How do you avoid creative ruts?
Walk away from what you’re working on. Go get beer with friends.
What’s your favorite part of your day?
The golden hour.
Name five things you love, need and can’t live without.
Green tea. Music. Friends. Computer. Nature.