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Meet Chris Cleary

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris G Cleary.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Chris. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in a small town in southwest CT with a 45-minute train ride to the Banks in NYC (my life wouldn’t be the same without that being my stomping grounds). Survived four years in FL at Ringling School “now College” of Art & Design for my BFA in Illustration. Graduated after one quick summer course and drove to CA in 2003. I put my car in storage and toured the country with this band called Counterfit both on the Warped Tour and small clubs shooting photos and selling merch. After that… 9 months in Oakland in my homies walk-in closet building decks and doing random flash animations and design for another homie. My deck builder boss told me to sell my car and buy a truck cause “what else am I gonna do” so I quit and moved to SD and haven’t left since. Freelanced for a couple of years doing flash animation and shooting photos of bands until I got a job at SPY Optic in 06 as an entry-level graphic designer… over 13 years there, I did kinda everything and anything within the Art Dept till I worked up to DP and “left” in late 18. I’ve got to say that time in my life truly defined who and what I am able to be purely from the insane amount of rad people I got to be around and learn from. Am I allowed to have a shoutout section? Hahahaha… fuck man, there were so many… Jojo, Tony, MMX, Devon, Brent, Maddy, Danica, Mau, Brad… thats just a start to in-house homies. Then athletes I got to be around were and are still what I would consider friends. MC, Torrey, Ahmet, Bob… again I dont think yall have the room for the full list. It was amazing. Soooooo, that ended. No bridges burned, no bad blood, SPY is rad! 13 years in an Art Department at an action sports company is kinda crazy, right?

After that, I started chrisGcleary, LLC and went through the usual means of companies pushing exposure over proper compensation and others with strong promise of being the next big thing so all willingly and knowing that I most likely would get fucked in the long run. I APPRECIATE ALL THESE PEOPLE AND EXPERIENCES BTW. I met and shot with new athletes and models, I got to go to El Salvador for 17 days on a trip that I will likely never get to go on again (I made a lot of friends there as well that I keep in touch with). The biggest thing that came out of that time stems down to a single person, who modeled for a shoot for an eyewear brand we were trying to re-invent. Big picture, he work(ed)s for this company called PowerDot. I remember him bringing it up when we were shooting but dismissed it for whatever reason. Later on, I get a call that the company (PowerDot) he works for needs lifestyle shots for a Medical app they are developing so we do the shoot. I meet the crew and major players, things are good. Then things go south with my current guy, I wont go into details, it was long overdue tho. Lets just say we parted ways and I needed to re-evaluate my choices for clients. So I decided to add the videos I have done and still do to my newly redesigned website, I hadn’t had them on there before cause I am a photographer and have a lot of video friends that I try to kick that work too. BUT… money in the bank is now food on the table so fuck it, let’s eat. A day or so after adding those to the site, I get a call from the guy I shot for that eyewear company that works for PowerDot cause he wanted to know who shot the videos, “I did”… well, who edited them? “I did”… ok, well who did the animations? “I did”. That conversation went on with the same line of questioning and answers until he more than less told me they wanted me to come in to talk about working for them. We did, and shit has been magic ever since. I am currently acting DP at PowerDot and couldnt be more stoked on the Family I have gained access to. Aside from that I still shoot for random brands and have a side project that isnt ready to be discussed but is looking fruitful to say the least.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Has it been an easy path…? Hahaha, fuck no. I spent most of my childhood thinking I would be a poor piece of shit because I didnt want to have a corporate job and wasnt really that into history and mathematics. I just wanted to skate and draw on shit. So many people hate their jobs. It fucking sucks for them. I love where I landed. An easy path tho? Na. It’s just different. I love what I do. That “love” is both an amazing thing and a curse. People need to understand that those jobs they hate so much, they go to work and do that shit, come home and turn it off. Meanwhile, I come home from a shoot and immediately start editing photos and the video cuts… not on my computer, but in my head, in my dreams… all this after a night of planning the shoot prior to waking up. It doesn’t turn off, EVER.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Chris G Cleary, LLC – what should we know?
Let me allow my good friend Tony to take this one.

As a photographer, he has it all: From crafting in-studio or off-site photo shoots, scouting photo
locations, or dialing-in a wide swath of technical attributes for each unique project, Chris can always be counted on to take the lead and deliver beyond expectations. He is comfortable imparting his ideas while always staying true to the mission at hand.

Similarly, his design chops never cease to impress. With a natural eye for form and composition, Chris amazes me with his seemingly limitless ability to master any new software and tools across photo manipulation, animation, videography and digital interfaces.

Most importantly, it is Chris’s enthusiasm and contagious personality that set him apart. He truly makes it fun to work alongside him, always eager to rebound ideas and keep the job-at-hand light and rolling along. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to work on the next project with Chris.

Finally, I am proud of the accomplishments and the body of work that Chris has steadily built, but I am even more proud to call him my friend.

Warm regards,
Tony Larson – Visual Artist

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I don’t let people twist me into being someone I’m not, authentically ME till the day I die. This stems into client work and shoots more than I can say. I’m fucking weird! Hahaha. If someone is having a bad time in front of the camera, it is my job to make them open up and have a good time. That usually comes from me clowning on myself to make them comfy. With no ego, I’d say I have a PHD in that shit. Everyone is a working puzzle, no one is the same, figuring out on the fly how to make them enjoy being in front of the camera is everything. But making them relate to you as a human opposed to some shithead taking a photo or video is EVERYTHING. Once everyone drops the ego and resorts to having a good time everyone wins big.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: chrisgcleary

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