Artist Callum Scott-Dyson grew up in York, before moving to Manchester to study Filmmaking, but has just returned to focus on his work, already exhibiting at York’s City Screen throughout the Autumn. As his group exhibition drew to a close, we caught up with him to have a chat about his influences and latest projects.
Tell us a bit about how you first got into art. Were there any particular early defining moments where you thought, ‘Yes, I’m going to be an artist’?
I first got into art and films in general through my parents; they’re both massive art fans and enjoy going to the cinema, to exhibitions, to shows, all sorts. With my filmmaking, I was bought an issue of ‘Empire Magazine’ that featured a huge ‘201 films to see before you die’ feature and I began watching seriously good films, and making my own with a friend. Every project becomes a struggle to rediscover that youthful love and energy we had back then! Since then we’ve just kept on making film and videos, albeit with different friends, cast and crew, but the fact that we try to always have a project on the go remains.
Simultaneously while at university I doodled more, and became interested in illustration. With support from my friends I kept trying it, experimenting with different styles and techniques. Some of my more business minded friends said I should approach bands, café’s, venues: people who might need an artist or illustrator. From there my confidence grew and grew and now it’s a really enjoyable part of my life.
Your show at York City Screen ran throughout October and received really positive responses. How receptive do you think York is to the arts, particularly having been awarded the ‘UNESCO City of Media Arts’ title?
The show at The City Screen went brilliantly. We sold a number of pieces, which has been really encouraging. It’s predominately a cinema, meaning an opening night or anything like that was more difficult than in a gallery, but as it’s one of the most popular hubs of creativity in York: be it in film, art and music, it’s getting us some really amazing exposure. I feel like York is pretty receptive to the arts; it’s a somewhat busy city with a lot of people interested in art. It’s just a case of creating as many platforms for young artists as possible, having a high level of quality control but simultaneously not cutting off opportunities. I work hard to find café’s, bars, other venues to exhibit in other than galleries, and in City Screen I found somewhere that is at once an amazing cinema and gig venue that lets young and aspiring artists use their walls if they feel the work is good enough, which is really cool.
And what are you working on now?
I tend to always like to have a number of projects on at once to keep me on the ball and keep things fresh. At the minute, I’m working predominately on music videos. After doing film work for so many years, and then networking with bands and musicians in my illustration work, I thought it’d be a good idea to start asking if people want music videos. I’ve since set up a production company called CSD Videography, and that is the main focus at the minute, developing and making music videos. I love doing them, as they’re so different to film projects. I’m also working on a number of little cover art and poster jobs for bands based in the UK such as Duke Mercury, Bruja and Ceiling Demons and a Manchester based promoter named Sunny Manchester. I love designing things for bands and venues as you can be really imaginative with it.
Collaborating with musicians clearly provides a strong backbone for your work. How does the connection between music and art fuel your inspiration?
In my work, you can see this connection on a very literal level at the minute as, like I mentioned, the majority of my work is for bands, record labels and promoters, so it connects me to the music world. It really helps me hear and see more bands and keeps me a little up to date with the current trends. Music was also my key influence when drawing and painting around 5-7 years ago. I wasn’t well read at all in art history and I didn’t find myself going to too many galleries, I simply listened to music and it’d inspire certain images and ideas. When certain ideas were too loose and abstract for filmmaking, I found art to be a great platform for musically inspired thoughts. Certain phrases or sounds created worlds and tones in my mind and I did some work back then that I’m very proud of. I still listen to music to help set the mood of a piece when working, or just to help me relax.
Working in so many different medias, are there any particular artists or creatives that inspire your work?
In film I love the work of Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, Terrence Mallick, Spike Jonze, David Cronenberg, Terry Gilliam, Terrence Davies, David Lynch…so many artists. In most of their cases, I prefer their earlier work, and in other cases it’s not as much their films as their style that influences me.
In terms of art I tend to rotate more towards artists who have a style I can relate to and be inspired by, the most notable ones would be Alan Davie, Sidney Nolan, Eduardo Paolozzi, Carlo Zinelli, Kandinsky, David Hockney.
Where can we next find your work, and what should we be keeping an eye out for?
At the minute I’m in the process of sorting out an exhibition through a York based collective/ business called Plastic Fortune. They’ve acquired a studio and have said they’d be more than happy for me and a few of my peers to have an exhibition. So after the success of the City Screen show it’s something I’m very excited about. We’re still in the early stages at the minute, but I’ll be posting about it on my various social media pages when we have a date and title in place.
Other than that I’m always open to music video collaborations if any bands or artists out there want one at the minute. Our web address is www.csdvideography.com and all the info can be found on there.
Make sure to like Callum’s Facebook page to keep up to date with where next to find him.