“This is my 1970’s Equipto work bench. I do some blogging from it, but its new purpose will be as a packaging area for my new online shop that launches in a few weeks. I work primarily from the couch and coffee shops around Chicago.”
Christopher Jobson is the creator and editor of Colossal, a visual blog that explores art, design, photography and other forms of visual expression. Launched in 2010, Colossal was nominated for a Webby in 2012 and now reaches several million visitors each month. In addition to the site, Christopher has brought art to the pages of Wired Magazine, Mental Floss Magazine, and Slate. He lives in Chicago with his wife Megan and son Caleb and spent the other half of his life in central Texas. This is his temporary workspace in his new apartment, soon to be converted into the packaging/shipping center for his new online shop.
FROM YOUR DESKS: How do you work?
CHRISTOPHER JOBSON: I usually start work at 8:30 and quickly read my way through about 250 blogs, scouring for emerging art/design/photography projects. There’s also sorting through a few dozen submissions. I can’t really focus until I’ve consumed everything “new” which takes about an hour. I hone in on the best thing to work on for the first post of the day, and then repeat 2-3 times from there. I try to position myself to be in the flow of art and design news, so it means spending a lot of time on Twitter, in my feed reader, and elsewhere to see what’s new.
CJ: I have an illustration of the Duomo in Florence. It’s the largest brick dome ever constructed and I find it incredible that they spent just short of 600 years building the thing, and worked on the bottom part FOR TWO HUNDRED YEARS before holding a competition to design the dome which they didn’t even know how to build when they got to that part. On an infinitesimal scale, that’s sort of how I feel with my work. I have no idea how things are going to end up but I’m just going to keep laying bricks and hope it all comes together. I’m not going to end up with a Duomo, though; just a rickety old shack with some killer pieces of art.
FYD: What is your favorite or most required work tool?
CJ: Good old-fashioned software. Google Chrome, Google Reader, and WordPress.
FYD: You move around and work from coffee shops to your dining table. What do you like about staying mobile?
CJ: Life is pretty hectic for me. My son Caleb has started school, I work on a lot projects, and stop into galleries and museums when I can, so it helps enormously to pull out my laptop in any random environment and sit down to work. Blogging is a pretty solitary endeavor so it helps to be in more social spaces where I don’t feel like I’m in a total vacuum.
I can’t really focus until I’ve consumed everything “new”…
CJ: The phrase I used under the Colossal logo is “Art, and visual ingenuity.” I wanted a catchall phrase to incorporate design, photography, and film while imparting the idea that with Colossal people can expect to encounter things they’ve never seen before. “Visual ingenuity” does that while emphasizing this is almost entirely a visual blog.
CJ: I’m most excited about emerging sculptors and installation artists, people who are building objects by hand and creating environments or artworks that can be experienced from different physical perspectives. I especially love artists like Cornelia Konrads, Jim Denevan and Andy Goldsworthy, These artists are doing something in the polar opposite direction of the digital trajectory. That kind of artwork gives me a reprieve from the technological lifestyle I’ve been immersed in for the past 15 years. I want to be the guy who has this encyclopedia knowledge of art history, and while I appreciate the work of old masters and know we’ll probably never see craftsmanship like that again, my heart and inspiration is captivated by modern and contemporary art. For me, art started getting interesting with Van Gogh and Picasso, and exponentially more exciting after World War II.
Blogging is a pretty solitary endeavor so it helps to be in more social spaces…
FYD: For the un-art savvy, what’s on the syllabus in your 101 crash course?
CJ: This question is like a recurring nightmare for me. Instead of that awful dream of sitting down to take a final exam for a critical course I’ve never attended, it’s morphed into standing in front of an auditorium of students with no clue what I’m about to teach. My art class would be solely based in contemporary art. There would be no syllabus and the entire course would be predicated on art immersion, specifically having artists come in to show/speak about their work and their process. Then we would visit museums and galleries and have discussions around individual pieces. The final would challenge the students to formulate their own art movement with some defined criteria and philosophy. They would have to make their own art that would go into a show. I don’t know what that would be called… Post-Contemporary 101?
CJ: Colossal walks an interesting line. It doesn’t seek to be an outlet for everything that’s happening in the art world, and even a casual visitor could identify my personal biases and patterns pretty quickly. One of the most important things is that the art looks good in a blog format, which in relation to all the art being produced today, can be very limiting. That said, artists are getting much better at providing high quality photography as the cost of good cameras has plummeted, and they frequently have videos and other forms of process documentation that helps convey their artwork to an online audience. In that sense, yes, I think art is becoming more accessible online.
I’m just going to keep laying bricks and hope it all comes together.
CJ: We are minimalists in our home, but there is plenty of art. We have 25 pieces hanging and most of that is from artists who have appeared on Colossal or the work of friends. My son also has a wall where he can hang his own art which tends to be focused on robots, aliens, and robotic aliens.
FYD: What might we expect with your new online shop?
CJ: Lots of limited edition artworks (sculptural, not prints or paintings) from artists who have been featured on Colossal plus fun design objects, toys, things for the office/home, and tons of stuff made out of wood. Because we’re keeping inventory in the house, everything is going to be pretty tiny. At least, to start with.
FYD: You were a guest curator for Saatchi, how did you derive on your collection?
CJ: I selected artwork I thought was interesting and would engage others. The use of multiples, distortion of the human figure, uncommon materials (embroidery, cut paper, typography), and artworks where the process and meticulousness of the artist is apparent when viewing the piece.
FYD: Like your poster so aptly states, is the pressure good for you?
CJ: I have no idea. That’s why I got the poster.