I’m not sure exactly when I first met Chance Lord, but whenever I did, however many years ago, I definitely had no idea that he made any art at all. I—like a lot people—knew him more by his tag, GUESS, which is harder NOT to find on most blocks in the city. His tag, well before I knew him personally, has always been one of my favorites for its character—later I identified that same eccentricity and approachability in the characters in his drawings. But for Chance I know that the line between graffiti and art is wildly separate: so much so that I don’t think anyone really had any idea of the creativity Chance had brewing in private. I only learned about Chance’s art roughly two years ago from his posts on Instagram—immediately compelled, not long after I bought a few drawings from him. Shortly after I raised the idea of putting together a show with Jake Sumner at Allday. It seemed weird to us that Chance’s art had only ever been shown a few places before, and was for the most part only being shared via his Instagram account.
As Jake and I started poking around at Chance’s house, he started unearthing for us a treasure trove of work from what amounted to the previous fifteen years or so. We soon gleaned that his drawings and paintings are most overtly about characters: they’re about the freaks and the weirdos, the tweakers and the crazers, the octopuses, and the ice cream-heads—“Lunatics of Assorted Flavors”—iterations of people he’s maybe come across before and many people he probably wishes he had. What’s special about these characters is that they all exist inside an uninhibited realm that Chance has created, one that is endlessly inventive and infinite in possibilities—a landscape of interwoven, cartoon surrealia.
At a certain point in our digging we no longer felt that simply a show would do justice to Chance’s whole oeuvre, and so we then began a long, fun process of sifting through years worth of work and characters. We worked with Othelo Gervacio to come up with a book design that would lend itself to Chance’s unique illustrations. We looked at classic illustrated books like Dino Buzzati’s “Poema a Fumetti,” the “Codex Seraphinianus” and Roger Hargreaves’ “Mr. Men” series. We wanted to create something that, like all of those works, captures a sense of the artist’s own private universe. A little over a year later, we have compiled what we all feel is the best representation of where Chance’s work has been, where it is now, and where it might be headed in the future.