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.
"First released in 1966, this stunning poster was created by John Rieben for Container Corporation of America’s Chicago Cultural Communication Project. Set in Helvetica over a gray ground, Mr. Rieben’s poster is a modernist panegyric to the architectual visionaries that shaped Chicago.
Each name resonates as a girder within a typographic edifiice. While calling direct attention to Mies Van der Rohe, homage is given to a number of other luminaries – some more familiar than others.”
Click here to check out more unearthed Chicago posters.
I will never forget the first time I saw The Dark Knight. It was at an IMAX theater, and my friends and I were all anxiously awaiting our first glimpse of Heath Ledger as The Joker. This was the first image we saw, and looking at it still gives me goosebumps. The film also had special meaning for me as a loyal Chicagoan, making every scene hit home.
The Dark Knight is not only one of my favorite movies, it is also a testament to everything that makes me proud of Chicago. This image is the perfect manifestation.
Before the Chicago Bears were running around Soldier Field, it was used for a plethora of different sporting events. Take Ski Jumping for example.
"This jump was constructed in the summer of 1954. The event was sponsored by the Norge Ski Club, based in the northwest Chicago suburb of Fox River Grove. It was erected by Gilco Scaffolding of Des Plaines. The surface was shaved or crushed ice."
#ChildrenWithSwag: Kanye West - Way Too Cold (Theraflu)
I know the term “Swag” has been getting thrown around way too much lately, but in this case I think it is more than appropriate. Director Ashley Smith has created a brilliant music video for Kanye West’s new song, “Way Too Cold” (Theraflu.)
The video features a young “Yeezy” in front of New York City’s Louis Vuitton store rapping all the lyrics to “Way Too Cold.”
This is much more creative than most official music videos, well done Ashley!