We had the pleasure of visiting Callum Youde at his studio in the east end of Glasgow earlier this month to chat about his new / first ever solo show and all things art. Read on to find out about his day to day life as an artist, his current influences and plans for the year ahead.
What’s your strongest memory of art from childhood?
I have this fond memory from when I was in primary school, probably around P3 where we were tasked with creating an Ancient Egyptian collar necklace using collage, and upon finishing I remember the teacher being really impressed with mine and showing the class it as a great example. I think I actually still have it in my childhood home kitchen, which is ridiculous.
When did you realise you were an artist?
Even though I have been doing art for some time now and been through high school, college and university, I would say I truly didn’t feel like an artist till I graduated and sold my first painting, not sure why but after selling that first piece that’s when I finally felt like a real artist.
How would you describe your art?
Organised Chaos maybe? I find describing my work hard, I tend to say it’s a blend of Abstract Expressionism & Neo-Expressionism.
What motivates you?
The feeling of happiness and joy when I finish a piece and love it. I feel like I have battles with my work where I go through many stages of loving and hating it, then finally it comes out the other end and I think ‘okay, this is pretty good’. Especially when someone offers to buy the work – it’s great to know someone likes my work so much that they are happy to pay money for it. It’s such a rewarding feeling and a massive confidence boost for an aspiring artist.
What themes captivate you and have you always favoured abstract painting?
Yes, I’ve definitely always favoured abstract art over other types of art since a young age. I just love the freedom of abstract art, and how it has no boundaries with where it can go. Once I got to University I started to focus more on abstract painting, and it was then I really started to fall in love with it. Surrealism is also something I am intrigued by, but who wouldn’t be fascinated by the work of Dali or Magritte.
How do you structure your day when you are in the studio? Is it a planned approach or more instinctive, a ‘lets see where today takes us’…
Oh, definitely more ‘let’s see where today takes me’. I usually just jump right into a piece without a strong idea of where it’s going to go or how the finished piece will look. I begin by filling the canvas applying paint, oil bars or spray paint (perhaps chaotically!) and see what unfolds over time. I do take a step back from time to time and look how I can include imagery, motifs and general mark makings, building more layers to it. On occasions I already have ideas of imagery I would like to include but I only ever find out where they fit as the piece unfolds in front of me. I try to keep an intuitive approach to painting, but sometimes that changes, and pieces become more thought out which I think can be seen in my earlier works.
How do you know when you have finished a piece?
There is a great quote from Leonardo da Vinci – “Art is never finished, only abandoned”. I feel like I relate to what he says a lot, I usually get to a certain point in a piece where I’m too scared to go further in fear of ruining it, this is usually how I know it’s time to stop. Many times before I have continued to work on a piece and everything has just gone wrong, knowing when to stop is the key.
Tell us about this new body of work? How has it changed from your Degree Show collection of last year?
I wouldn’t say it’s changed too much; I’m following a similar approach and my processes are the same. I’m still drawing imagery inspiration from aspects of my everyday surroundings; the things I see, objects I use, music I listen to, movies I watch – all the random little things that make up my day-to-day life. Whilst some pieces are reminiscent of my Degree Show work, others are a bit more loose, chaotic and messy in the application of paint, oil bars and spray paint. I feel like I’m adopting a more intuitive approach to working which I think comes with the freedom of not being in University and the pressures that come with it.
Which artists do you follow? Which artists influence your work?
Nowadays with Instagram you can follow a large number of artists, which I do, I appreciate lots of peoples works but not everyone I follow necessarily influences my work. Artists that really inspire me and I resonate with at the moment are – Jenny Brosinski, Hyang Mok, Billy Bagilhole, Kevin Douillez, Karl Gabriel Alexander, Hayden Rearick to name a few. I would highly recommend you check out the works of these artists as they are all fantastic in different ways. In my first year or so of art school I was massively inspired by the great Jean-Michel Basquiat and his insanely incredible work. It was everything about his work that I was drawn to; his mark-making, imagery, motifs, narrative, vibrancy. So, from this I set out on trying to find my own personal approach to this sort of Neo-expressionistic style.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
My friend Jacob Little-John who is also artist but a few years ahead in the game gave me some good advice after I graduated which was “Keep going, this isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. if you can continue with the same determination and passion that you have up until now then you’ll be on the track for good things.” To me that is some amazing advice.
What couldn’t you do without?
Music 100%. I can’t imagine not listening to music every day. It would be a sad world if music didn’t exist. Music definitely has an influence on my work when I’m in the studio – if its somehow influencing the colours I use, or just simply putting me in a great mood while I paint or pulling me through a stressful time with a piece. Either way, I can’t do without it.
How do you feel about the role social media plays now for artists?
I think it’s a blessing and a curse, on one side you get to view an endless amount of incredible artists, that can inspire and influence you – which is amazing. On the other hand, trying to make a name for yourself in the art world is incredibly challenging as there is an insane amount of us out there, so standing out from the crowd can be hard. With all this in mind I feel so lucky to be able to do a show with you guys and invite people to view my work in person, it really is a fantastic opportunity.
What’s coming up after you solo show?
No plans as of yet, I just aim to continue making work in my studio and see how things go from there. Definitely would be keen to do more exhibitions/shows if the opportunities arose. I do hope to go travelling during the summer, which will be great for visual inspiration for my art.
Big thanks again to Callum for taking the time while he was busy preparing for his show to chat with us. You can find all of Callum’s available paintings in the gallery and here.