DAC Artist Spotlight – Chris Bodily

Chris Bodily is an alumni and former adjunct professor of the Southern Utah University Art Department. He has been illustrating under the name Hatrobot for almost twenty years. His body of work is primarily ink illustration influenced by cartoons, comic books, lowbrow, tattoos, and graffiti. If you have attended the Utah Arts Festival or Gallery Stroll events in Utah over the last several years, you are probably familiar with his bold, graphic artwork.


Chris has loved drawing for as long as he can remember. Growing up he was big into comic books and cartoons. He taught himself to draw by watching reruns of the Simpsons. He says he was a pretty awkward kid in school, so drawing became his super power for making friends. When he first read Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library in middle school it was like a whole world opened up in his mind as to what was possible for illustration. He realized illustration didn't have to just be for kids, it could have depth and emotional complexity. Stylistically his work today is still influenced by the cartoons he watched as a kid, but thematically he strives for concepts with more weight. 

There are several artists Chris admires, but he tries not to emulate any one style too closely for fear of becoming derivative. Instead he tries to take inspiration from the things around him.  Anything he’s reading, listening to, or experiencing will feed itself into his work. Chris feels it's important to take what his wife calls "Artist Dates" where you take a break from the work and experience things to renew your creative reserves.

Chris never really needed a specific motivation to be creative. He feels most himself when he is drawing, so he draws constantly. Creativity for him takes place when you shut off the part of your brain that edits itself, so he tries to not have expectations for the work. He feels there is no such thing as a mistake if you embrace every decision. The work is better when you stop worrying if the work is any good.  

His work has changed considerably in the last few years. For a long time he used drawing as catharsis for his bipolar disorder. The work was much more visceral and raw. As he learned to better deal with his mental health issues and balance his life in other ways, he’s focused more on mastery and technical proficiency. He’s never much cared for conceptual art and believes an image either speaks for itself or it doesn't. He likes the idea that different people can experience the same piece of work in different ways. He doesn't need the viewer to see him, he wants them to see themselves. 

The last few months Chris has been working on a comic book with his wife called Black Lantern. They are about 80 pages deep, and hopefully next year they can find someone to publish it. Outside of that he keeps practicing his technique.

Currently, he is a drawing instructor for Weber State Continuing Education and the Bountiful Davis Art Center.  His work has been featured in Juxtapoz, Nius-News, Koi Koi Koi, In-Print, and Big Shiny Robot. He’s shown with Blonde Grizzly, Pandemonium, 313 North Studios in Las Vegas, and was the Hive Gallery's in-house artist for six years. He is a regular contributor to Utah Stories, Salt Lake City Weekly, and Slug Magazine, with freelance clients including Bikers Against Child Abuse, iO West, Heebeegeebeez Comics Games & Toys, and Hellskate.

More of Chris Bodily’s work can be found on his website, www.hatrobot.com.