Christopher Jobson, creator and editor of the blog Colossal, was kind enough to answer our questions about many topics including art, content curation and local influence. Check out the full interview below.
How would you define “art?”
I would define art as any form of human expression and imagination (visual, auditory, writing) that evokes an emotional response, be that positive or negative, or simply simply thought provoking. I don’t think that would differ much from something you might see in a dictionary. Now as far as what kind of art I enjoy, you can just visit Colossal.
Has this definition changed through the discovery and exploration of new technology and new media?
No I don’t think the definition of art has changed at all. We’ll always have new mediums and modes of expression, and while we might all stand around for a moment and scratch our heads and ask ‘Is this new thing ‘ART’? I think the eventual conclusion is that yes, it is.
I find it interesting that although you are a web designer by day, you’re posts typically cover physically produced artwork. Why do you think this is?
I think being exposed to so much digital artwork over the past decade or so I really began to hunger for something real. We’ve reached a point where almost anything we can imagine can be rendered convincingly with computer animation. Our TV shows, movies and commercials have become a barrage of 2-second quick clips superimposed with motion graphics, everything is just so slathered in digital distractions. With Colossal I wanted to cultivate a place where I could remind myself (and now many others apparently) that people are still making incredible art with their bare hands. The blog is a place where people can step back and catch their breath as you might do in an actual art gallery or museum and just get lost in sculptures, installations, photography, painting, and other art forms in which the creative effort of each piece is immediately apparent when looking and reading about for the first time.
When curating content, what different communities, online or offline do you tap in to? And how do you go about that process?
I don’t tap into as many offline communities as I wish, at least not for curation, but that might have to do more with the volume of work I prefer to absorb which is around 1-2,000 projects/photos/artworks each day in order to make the best selections for the blog. Those items come from everywhere: hundreds of other blogs, submissions, Tumblr, Pinterest, Behance, Flickr, 500px, I also have a method I’ve devised for scouring a few hundred art gallery websites who don’t utilize blogs on a sort of monthly cycle. It’s a lot of work but I love it.
If a piece of art/work is created by a brand, does that at all diminish its cultural impact, influence or lasting appeal?
I think it is monumentally difficult, though not impossible, for a brand to create art that is well-received by the public. Generally what I see are brands that try to unsuccessfully mimic a trend or idea that’s already been executed to a more successful degree by independent artists. But every once in a while a company gets the right minds in a room and they make something iconic, worthy of being called art. Using TV commercials as an example: the Sony Bravia bouncing ball commercial, Honda’s Cog Rube-Goldberg machine, or Nokia’s Gulp stop motion animation — these are remarkable exceptions.
How has living in Chicago affected your perspective on your work, personally and professionally?
This is an interesting question. I’ve met many gallery owners, artists and other creatives here in Chicago as a result of Colossal and it has indeed changed numerous aspects of my career and work. I’m constantly influenced by local artwork and Chicago-centric items are often featured, some 60 posts at last count. That said, Colossal isn’t a “Chicago” blog. Somebody asked me the other day whether I consciously try to find a balance with geography, culture,or even the artists’ gender when I’m curating, and the truth is that every decision is based solely on the merit of the art I discover and rarely has anything to do with who the artist is. The fun thing is that this results in an amazingly diverse collection of work from both emerging and established artists from all over the world.
"Instagram inspired sun glasses. Branded like a pair of Ray-Bans but allowing you to alter the world around you by using all the traditional filters found in the official Instagram app.
You could then directly upload whatever it was you were looking at, straight from your glasses into your online profile.”
First, I want to say that this is a brilliant concept. I also want to add that the reason I love so many Instagram concepts is because they combine the digital brilliance of the photo-sharing service with the real, physical world.
"X-Fois Gens Chaise, or X-Times People Chair, is a site-specific piece created by German artist Angie Hiesl. During each performance, selected people between the ages of 60 and 70 float overhead on metal white chairs attached to the façade of various buildings.
As the performers sit, perched in the air, they conduct normal, everyday activities such as reading the newspaper, folding clothes, knitting, and having a snack—they just happen to be doing these activities from 20 feet off the ground!”
This brings modern art to a whole new level, literally.
"A human sized Sprite machine is being used in Tel Aviv this summer to cool off and wash beach-goers, and promote the soft drink. The massive Sprite branded machine, which dispenses water and not soda, is part of an advertising campaign dreamed up by the ad firm Ogilvy and Sprite.
Representatives from Sprite are on hand at the beach to take your picture as you stand under the massive machine, and will e-mail the photo to you on the spot.”
This is a great concept, and execution from Sprite. I also like the idea of having your picture taken, because many people would want to share the experience on their social networks.
While the installation is far from subtle, the experience is sure to create lasting memories and conversations.
"The idea was to attract attention to and to make Miller the preferred brand among other six packs in the summer when beer consumption spikes.
Miller is closely linked with music in Turkey. It has been organizing Miller Music Factory,a contest to discover fresh music talents for six years and Miller Freshtival, a music festival, for two years now.
This is why we have chosen music as a theme for our six packs. We havedesigned two sided boxes, one side looks like a speaker and the other is the casette player.This way when three boxes are brought together side by side, they form a boombox.”
There is so much to like about this idea. Not only is the packaging enticing and clever, it actually helped Miller achieve measurable ROI by people buying three at a time to complete the boombox.
Frankly, I’m disappointed with the lack of creativity from the larger beer manufactures; but Miller created something special here.
I would like to see a lot more of this in the future.