Artist interview: Chris Dyer
AUGUST 3, 2022.
Chris Dyer is a Canadian-Peruvian artist. Primarily based in Montreal, Dyer’s artwork has taken him all over the world—and even to other realms of consciousness. Melding the multi-dimensional with multimedia, Dyer’s work has adorned murals, skateboard decks, posters, jam band album covers, and even the famous Beatles ashram in northern India. His work will also feature in our psychedelics exhibition. Trippy and kaleidoscopic, Dyer’s work suggests a strong psychedelic influence. Dyer was creating art in this style well before he ever tried psychedelic substances. Still, many associate this style with the visual common to DMT and ayahuasca experiences. In this interview, he tells us how his work—and his consciousness—were psychedelic even before he started experimenting with magic mushrooms and ayahuasca.
Where are you, right now?
I’m panting mural on a wall on a barn in Northern California.
How have psychedelics influenced your art?
I’m an inter-dimensional being. And psychedelics have helped me get in touch with that aspect of myself. I started with mushrooms. But these days I’m mostly an ayahuasca person.
Your art is very reminiscent of the DMT experience, or ayahuasca. Did those drugs shape your style?
I was painting that way before I got into those medicines. As I was saying, I’m an inter-dimensional being. Right now I’m having a human experience. But I guess there are some memories that are channeling through from the other side of reality. When I do aya and I can see things, I never really see my art. I see other things. I see a lot. But not necessarily the things that I paint. I understand why people would feel like my art’s about those realms. Because my art’s a lot about visualizing feelings, through my personal language. It’s hard to explain art!
And it’s hard to explain psychedelic experiences, too!
The medicine that lives me gets expressed through my art. But it’s not necessarily things that I see on medicine. When I’m there, I’m not on a homework assignment. I’m not like, “Look at all these trippy landscapes! I gotta make my next thing!” I’m not thinking that way. I’m thinking on a larger scale. I’m doing human homework. But definitely the more time I spend in those realms, the more I can bring the ingredients of language to transmit on my art. If anything, I stayed away from ayahuasca for years. Because people kept telling me that my art came from something I had never even tried. I don’t want people to think I’m a ghostwriter. But once I started working with Her, it was like, yeah, we were already working together.
When you say “Her,” you mean Mother Ayahuasca?
OK. Just making sure. So, you’ve talked a bit about the relationships between psychedelics and you art. What about in your life? You’ve talked about being in street gangs, drinking too much, getting in trouble. Did psychedelics help you get control of that part of your life?
I got out of my bullshit by myself. But then there’s a lot of residual bullshit: conditioning and codes and trauma, and things that do not belong in my body. So that’s what I’ve been working with, with aya, for the last eight years or so. I take medicine to heal, and become a better version of myself. Not to trip, or find paintings or whatever. I progress in my human path, to become a better version of myself. It’s a very beautiful journey. But I was already a psychedelic being. You don’t even have to take psychedelics. Psychedelics are just the doorway that takes you to a separate world. But you can already be psychedelic even without taking medicines. There are lots of psychedelic people who were psychedelic without taking medicines. Look at Frank Zappa. He was psychedelic, and he never took medicines.
Not only that, he hated drugs. He forbade his band from even doing them.
Yeah, but he was psychedelic already! He didn’t need it. It’s too bad he had to hate on it though.
What role does your Peruvian heritage, and growing up spending time in Peru, have in shaping your understanding of psychedelic medicines?
When you’re a kid you kind of run away from what’s supposed to be cool. So, for example, Machu Picchu is “cool.” I would think that was lame, as a kid. I would not give it much importance. Ayahuasca was certainly not a thing that was even known. When I left there, I had no idea. I learned about that years later through Terrence McKenna speeches. It was like, “Oh shit! There’s this thing in my own country! Let’s give it a shot!” But that was years later. Again, I didn’t want to be stereotyped. Like, “There’s this Peruvian artist and all his art’s about ayahuasca.” I was trying to resist boxes. But I’m Peruvian. I love that shit. But there’s stereotypes. Whether it’s food or the mountains or monuments or ayahuasca. All of Peru doesn’t think about that…It was a healing trip to embrace my Peruvian side. Instead or rejecting it, I decided to take these things that are subliminally coming into my art. I incorporate them consciously, with my own twist. I honour it, with respect and consciousness. Now I rock the Peruvian side of me. I don’t reject it.
You were working on a line of NFTs inspired by DMT entities. How is the modern intersection of tech culture and psychedelics changing psychedelia?
First of all, a clarification. Those entities are here to guide us on our path to ascension. They’re not necessarily from DMT. I’ve only done DMT two ties. As I said, I don’t really see these beings in my own journey. But I guess some people could connect to them that way, and they’re here to help. As for NFTs as part of the human journey of art? Yeah. We see things come around in humanity, whether it’s art of technology, and it can either be good or bad depending on its usage. I myself, try to be good. When it comes to NFTs, I try my best to make it a good thing. People make money, too! We’ve also had parties in the Metaverse, we’ve planted trees in Hawaii, we’ve given a lot back to our community. People just want to find their tribe. They want to find their people, their vibes…I think NFTs can very much be a beneficial thing. It doesn’t have to be a negative thing. We can do anything with technology. I can use a car to drive a person to the hospital. Or I can use it to crash into a store. Technology is never really the one to blame.