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Linc Thelen: Local Artist, Designer & Builder

Local talent Linc Thelen is often referred to as a “triple threat.” Artist, interior designer and builder, Linc’s natural aptitude was apparent early on in his life, as he spent much of his time with his father who owned a design-build firm. Linc studied painting at Northern Illinois University, and then expanded his knowledge of the Renaissance Masters while studying in Italy and France. A Chicago native for twenty years, Linc’s thirteen year storied career is marked by high-level partnerships, an evolving signature style, a “master-builder and craftsman" approach, and a drive towards constant innovation. We sat down with him to better understand his unique holistic perspective on design. 


Linc, at what point did you know that you were going to be an artist?

A pivotal moment for me was in my mid-twenties: I started selling a lot of work and signed with a gallery. Even before that, I always knew that this is who I am and who I've always been: an artist. It wasn't necessarily a conscious choice. There was just no question that this is what I was meant to do.

What inspires your paintings?

Capturing life moments and interpreting my thoughts onto canvas. I love experimenting with new ideas. Creating something new is awe-inspiring. 

Can you explain the chiaroscuro technique and how the Renaissance Masters inform your modern works? 

The chiaroscuro technique represents form by focusing on dark and light. The Renaissance Masters influence my work with a story. I sometimes take classical paintings and breathe new life into them. For example, I have taken “Madonna and Child,” “The Last Supper,” and “The Raft of Medusa” and reinterpreted them into my own style.

What prompted your shift from classical subject matter to more abstract paintings?

In 2008 I grew tired of painting classical themes and moved towards creating a new vocabulary. I made the next jump to creating my own language. 


Being an artist, designer and builder has landed you the colloquial title "triple threat;" how does your painting process inform your design process?

It's about keeping work and ideas current and contemporary. I am open to taking risks and not playing it safe, in an effort to create something new. It's about trusting yourself where others may have doubt. 

Who is your ideal client, and what is unique about the "master builder" approach you can offer him/her? 

When a client comes to me for architecture, design and project management; I find that most intoxicating. The master builder approach is unique because I am involved in every step of the project from conception to reality and everything in between. It's a lengthy but enjoyable process, and requires a deep understanding of how things are built and put together. It is important I really understand the client's needs and deliver them a home that fits their unique lifestyle.

Do you have any favorite stops for sourcing unique local product for design projects?

Architectural Artifacts is a great spot if you are looking for unique architectural items. I also love Lightology and Porcelanosa.

It seems like you've done it all, but do you have any other spaces you'd eventually like to break into in your career?

I think I'm still coming into my own in regards to architecture. A goal of mine is to create my own signature style that is immediately recognizable. 

What do you love most about Chicago?

The people and that midwestern hospitality. I love the design industry, the arts, the vendors and the camaraderie of working alongside other architects and designers. I am thankful to have really wonderful clients, which makes it all worthwhile in the end. 

Meet Linc in person at Buckingham Interiors + Design during Design Harvest. “ENCOMPASS” is a solo exhibit featuring 13 new works. Learn about his process, his inspiration and the evolution of his work.

Saturday, September 20th 11 to 8 & Sunday, September 21st 11am to 6pm  
Buckingham Interiors + Design, 1822 West Grand Avenue in Chicago

Visit Linc's Refined Haystack profile to see additional photos from his projects, learn more about his approach, and inquire about his services.

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