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MMA SQUARED: 20 questions with the artist behind these four years of editorial cartoons

Who do they even let do this stuff?

MMA Squared, Chris Rini, Dana White, 20 questions
MMA Squared, Chris Rini, Dana White, 20 questions

Hey all, I came across this artist questionnaire and thought it would be fun to share some personal details with you. Hope you enjoy it.

1. Do you prefer traditional drawing or digital?

I’m a traditional artist at heart, pens & pencil or paint on canvas are how I like to work.

2. How long have you been drawing?

Drawing since day one, I recall feeling annoyed that a He-Man vs a dragon I made in kindergarten wasn’t self explanatory to the teacher.

3. How many classes have you taken?

I spent five years across two colleges getting a BFA in Studio Art with a minor in Art History. FIT was the wild west, if you worked, a lot the professors let you do whatever you liked. Hunter College was more academically challenging and competitive.

19 years old. So young and innocent.

4. What’s your favorite thing to draw?

I love drawing people and using MMA as a my theme turns my work into this cool mix of Life Drawing + Court Reporter through the filter of an animation Keyframe artist.

5. How often do you use references?

I use a ton of reference material for MMA Squared, from Hentai to Leather Daddys, to the texture of a Dorito chip.

6. What’s your least favorite thing to draw?

My least favorite thing to draw is cars. I feel like a kid again, stumbling through all the angles and shapes.

7. Do you prefer to keep your art personal or enjoy drawing for other people?

My work is about 90% personal. It might not be about my feelings but it’s what I feel like drawing. I’m more of a Beethoven than Mozart.

8. Do you ever collaborate?

Yes, I do collaborate. In the early days of this cartoon series, Case Harts used to animate the drawings and had a big hand in the tone and delivery. Now I mostly collaborate with Josh Rosenblatt who writes essays based on my MMA pieces that relate to art history. We most recently compared Rory MacDonald’s PFL run to the Burghers of Calais sculpture by Augustus Rodin.

9. Show a WIP / sketch that never saw the light of day

From my series of trees.

10. How long does an average piece take to complete?

My best work comes when I’m making a lot of art and not overworking things. Probably in the 2-4 hour range for a lot of drawings.

11. Do you draw more today than in the past?

I make more work now than ever before. Along with MMA Squared I now publish an annual book series of art & essays, the third one is coming out soon.

12. What are you currently trying to improve on?

I’m currently trying to improve my portraiture and aim to crank out one per week this year.

13. What’s the most difficult thing to draw?

The most difficult thing for me to draw is beautiful people.

14. What’s the easiest thing to draw?

The easiest thing to draw is Dana White. Recently I drew him in the style of Jean Michel-Basquiat, just for fun.

15. Do you like to challenge yourself?

Even though I feel cowardly some days, yes I do challenge myself on the daily. If I don’t keep growing as a person I’m prone to vice.

16. Are you confident that you’re improving steadily?

I’m at a stage where improvement happens on a less perceptible level, but it does lead to breakthroughs. In 2021 I surpassed a personal plateau with this piece.

17. Do you draw in silence or with music?

When I’m very determined, I work in silence, but the music of Charles Mingus is great fight music. I usually listen to him when I do the Live Drawing Threads on twitter. The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady album, plus tracks like Moanin, and Haitian Fight Song are some of my favorites.

18. For digital art, what program(s) do you use?

Digitally, I use Procreate on a refurbished iPad pro with apple pencil.

19. For traditional art, what medium do you like most?

Traditionally I use conte crayon (similar to charcoal) on newsprint to develop ideas. For finished pieces, I use Micron pens and Copic markers for color.

20. Drop your questions in the comments below and I’ll answer them.

Thanks for checking in on my work, jokes and drawings, BE has been a wonderful place to become a better artist and it supports the production of my book series The Fine Art of Violence. Take care of yourself and I’ll talk to you Monday.

Chris