Cam Collins’ Open-Ended Narratives

It’s all about the details for Cam Collins. This 19 year old artist from Chicago creates intricate colored sketches of hectic scenes, as you can see below. Look closely and you may be able to find an underlying story, but it certainly won’t be clear. Nonetheless, these pieces are quite eye-catching as Collins’ attention to detail is insane. Open a gallery of Collins’ art below and be sure to read our interview with him that follows.

Click on any image above to open a gallery of Collins’ art.
Describe your style.
I would be a bit afraid of myself if I was too confident to claim a style in the way I draw, I wouldn’t want it to stay the same forever. I honestly think time and different interests keep me “malleable”, but I would say that as of now, my style is a mixture of traditional french style ink drawing and old woodblock prints. There is generally a “narrative” quality to it, but that term should be used loosely, as the concept and final execution of the elements in the piece are placed in a way that’s just to make me happy, and not to necessarily serve the viewer a clear story. Clear stories are nice, so if you want to see my style as a clear narrative artwork, that is nice too — after making the story, I would like to hear the story.
Describe your creative process. How do you start a new piece?
Everything always helps. The “creative” part of it is really just me looking at a lot of things, and not intentionally. Walking helps me look at things, so I wake up really early and run in circles in my pajamas. During the circle-ing, I think of music that would play in the situation I am thinking of. Music’s a very big part of everything, but I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint exactly where it’s placed in the process. The easiest way for me to start a piece is to start making it (it is a bit too simple), there is not much of an actual visual process, it is a lot easier for me to go ahead and do it before I get very interested in something else.
What mediums do you work in?
I work in ink, graphite, acrylic, and crayons. Some of the mediums are new friends, but I like Ink the most because it’s the nicest to me. Even if I make a mistake with a piece in ink, I can just turn the mistake into something else, and it ends up creating a completely new thing that I wouldn’t even think I was interested in. Making a mistake in the actual piece is good for making new things, so ink is the easiest way for me to find new things I like to draw. Ink on canvas is a very good thing — the ink can’t escape the canvas and it’s very easy to make straight lines because the raw canvas is bumpy and tough, and [since it is], the ink will also look like that. All of that together makes the ink look like it’s a final and durable object. Lately though, I have been thinking of more printmaking and lithography, and using the color as paper. Colored paper is not a new invention, but next year I think the colored paper will be very cool, and I’ll be nice to it like the other papers.
Who and what are your biggest influences?

I’m very influenced by movies usually; there are a lot of pieces that are inside of a movie that all mix to create its own little vibe. I think movies like Run Lola Run have changed me a little and I’ve found a liking to early 2000’s things in general. There is kind of a lost and offbeat tone and an intense confidence to a lot of products and art during that time, especially [in] marketing. In terms of individual artists, Henry Darger seems to be so much of a staple in my mind[that] I forget that he’s in there when this kind of question is asked. He is definitely in there as a big helper in how I can keep going about how I’m working, and his work is very reassuring for me. [I also like] Suehiro Maruo…and I think a lot of people mistake his work for Takato Yamamoto’s or Yoshitaka Amano. There is a sort of commonality between them, I can’t exactly name it yet, but whatever it is, I like it and I like all of them. Aside from those, anything I’m looking at can have a big effect on how I’m thinking about things or what I might be interested in. I’ve been going to school at RISD for a bit now and there are hills and it’s very green and orange over there. There is a piece I’m doing over there right now that uses all of those colors and even purple, a color I used to afraid of.

What does art and the ability to express yourself mean to you?

It’s very fun!  There is no deep reason for me, I could’ve expressed myself in anyway I could, but drawing the things I do is the way I’ve been going about it, since I was 2. Of course, the person expressing themselves doesn’t have to know they’re doing it, and I think I’m still at that stage. I’m sure my pieces say something about me, and I’m sure there’s a commonality between the subjects in them, but I haven’t gotten to a point where I could claim that those commonalities have to be part of me or my own art. I think that is a hindering thing on a lot of artists — when they try to find a style or find the big word to describe something, or claiming that a specific object they draw is their thing. That is very funny, but it is a bit hard to laugh at. Expressing myself is not much of anything to me , but drawing what I would like and drawing how I would like at the moment is almost everything.

Where do you want to be in five years as an artist?

A studio would be nice. Being busy is even nicer. Something red is going to be there I’m sure. I’d like to be working with things like fashion, book covers — anything that lets my artwork be itself “I am friends with a few museums, and I’m traveling” is something I can say in 5 years, and I’ll have some chocolate. I will draw on watches and clothes, and people will know about it, and I’ll know that they know. Essentially, I’ll be doing the same thing I already am now, except I’ve seen more and I can do more.

What do you want people to know you for?

I would like them to know my art, that is the best thing in my life, and it’s good to see the best side of something. Whatever they take from my art is something that I should note and I can ask them why, and they can explain it ,and I learn something about myself I hadn’t really thought of, and then I think about if that part of me even existed before they mentioned what I put in the piece. That has happened before and it feels like a good thing every time it happens. It’s rare, but it happens, and I’m very excited to see more.

Follow Cam Collins on Twitter and Instagram. And check out his website for more of his work.

2 responses to “Cam Collins’ Open-Ended Narratives”

  1. That Cameron Collins is brilliant and I love his work. There is something new to discover each time I view one of his pieces. Thanks for an interesting interview.

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