Inside the Studio

Colin McCallum

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
Having always chosen to live and work in the urban city, my art is inspired by the collective experience of contemporary living. City life is filled with an array of imagery, from airport and train station digital monitors to pixelated television and computer screens at home, supermarket shopping aisles and their myriad of packaging, lighting and random colour combinations.

The visual stimulation is rich and complex. I am fascinated by this imagery and combine aspects of this reality to create an equivalent visual experience. These are not simply representative but energizing and intriguing. The relationship between urban living and all its technology is a recurring theme and influence in my work. Through my observations of man-made structures and objects I try to offer an alternative reality, just below the surface of our experiences.

I work in series so I can explore and expand on an idea that develops with each painting. I experiment with colour, mark making, and technique to allow each work to have its own uniqueness whilst retaining the starting point concept and connection to each other. Although a painting belongs to a series it is very much intended to stand on its own both visually and conceptually.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
I can’t remember being given a specific piece of advice, but from my many discussions with my contemporaries and artists I admire, the best advice is not to be afraid to take risks. This can apply to all aspects of life, but as an artist I need to feel I am challenging and questioning every stage of my development. Risk creates change that can initially be scary, but I find it renews and strengthens my work, preventing repetition and boredom. This is what keeps me ticking!

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
Both. I tend to listen to classical music in the mornings as this helps clear my mind and focus. In the afternoons, I tend to switch to more upbeat sounds such as jazz or rock and electronic, which I like to think of as a sonic caffeine hit!

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. 

Who are your favorite writers?
There are many. I am an avid reader with varied taste. To name but a few I would include: Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Michel Houellebecq, Tom McCarthy, Cormac McCarthy, J G Ballard, Jonathan Franzen, and Patrick DeWitt.