Calum James Crowther is a 22-year-old artist specialising in the photographic field. As he begins to carve out his career, I chat to him to find out his inspirations and the mystery surrounding his artistic pieces.
Born and raised in Sheffield, Calum found that his first love of art was in portraiture, recently starting to paint again, Calum has decided to enter some of his portrait work into a Mall Gallery Exhibition. Calum explains that he was always interested in drawing since childhood, “somewhere there will be hundreds of drawings of cartoons and stick men” he says, “I stopped doing it for a while but during the time when I was choosing my GCSE subjects, my Mum convinced me to choose art and since then it’s been a continuous passion of mine.” His love of music (particularly MF DOOM and Radiohead) and appreciation for film (especially P. T. Anderson films and Film Noir) has helped Calum draw up inspiration and played a huge part in his creative influences. These influences can be seen particularly in his piece titled, “The Alley.”
Calum’s work is popularly known for its air of mystery – who are the characters are in the pieces? Why they are in that particular setting? Calum says this is completely intentional. “I always try to have some sense of mystery in my work. I feel if the viewer is not 100% sure of what is happening within the image it makes it a much more interesting photograph,” he says, “That takes more than just one viewing to decipher. I build this intrigue by having story’s for each of my photographs and then trying to depict the story in a none obvious way.”
Speaking of his pieces, Calum says his favourite is the work entitled “Home Is The Hunter.” As he was making the piece, he saw it a real challenge to take the ideas he had in his head and translating it onto a canvas in a true representation of he wants. He explains he felt that he had made something special: “with the balance of an explicit storyline and ambiguity, this formed a benchmark for my other works.”
Calum works in digital photography so he does not have as much control over his prints as a film photographer would. With the assistance of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Bridge, Calum can work on his images and create a result he is happy with. Calum explains: “this takes just as much consideration as the creation of the photograph. I try not to use Photoshop to enhance but to use it as part of the process of the making of the image. I then take it to professional printers where I would usually have them printed on satin – for a cinematic look – and then backed on aluminium. For me, the presentation of my images is just as important as the making.”
Calum speaks about Jeff Wall’s piece named “Invisible Man” and how he deeply admires the artist, “he took photography out of books and magazines and into gallery spaces and exhibitions.” Outside of photography, his biggest influence on his work is the renaissance painter, Caravaggio. Calum says the painters’ use of light left a mark on his own work, “I feel my love of film is also apparent in my work with the use of narrative and characters” he says.
The young artist, who has gained an ABC Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Art, Design and Media with Distinction is currently in his final year of university where he is studying for a BA in Fine Art. Within the next five years, Calum is hoping to have a Masters and also host his own solo exhibition show in Sheffield. Currently, he is working towards his degree exhibition show in June next year.
Calum’s advice to aspiring artists is to always be aware of other contemporary artists and art, “always try to improve”, he says, “find out your weaknesses and make them your strengths and make your strengths stronger. Be open to opportunities and be prepared to work for free.”
For anybody who would like to know more about Calum, his profile and works can be found on the Axis website here – an online resource of artists and curators.by