artist interview: callie thompson

Aug 8, 2011

[images: Callie Thompson]

Austin-based artist Callie Thompson has been making art as far back as she can remember.  She grew up playing in her mom's art studio and went off to college to study art at Dartmouth and Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan.  I first came across Callie's art on Etsy a few weeks ago, and there was an immediate connection to her work.  Callie paints beautiful abstracted landscapes and patterns, and recently, she has translated some of her designs into a new textile line. 

How would you describe your work?

My current work is a combination of reductivist landscapes, biomorphic shapes, abstract patterning, and a heavy use of white and black. I would describe it as contemporary, meditative, minimalist and optimistic.

Studio mate, Bodhi, is relaxing on a pouf that Callie made.

What does your typical day look like?

Until this summer I worked full time at an Austin HIV/AIDS non-profit, now I work part time for a land conservancy. When I get home from work, I immediately go to my vegetable garden in the front yard to decompress. I don’t usually paint after a work day, so after dinner I fulfill orders.

Listening to 'ambient grooves' on pandora while I paint the abstracted landscapes is my painting nerdery secret. When I’m doing more pattern-y work, I like more energy like La Roux or Cults (Pandora stations).

What artist/tool/material do you love using at this moment?

Sumi-e ink is my all time favorite. Nothing matches its luminous, full black. It can cover anything and moves like silk. I also love using hearty cotton-linens and lightweight silk in my fabric line.
Now that your textile collection, BEAM, has launched, will you be focusing more of your energy on textile design and production?

My paintings lend themselves intuitively to repeating patterns, so textiles are a logical next iteration. I’m still in the early stages of launching BEAM, so yes, I will definitely be spending more energy on it in the coming months. I’ll be releasing more items and also offering larger quantities of items for wholesale/consignment.

Callie, her dog, and a few favorite objects on the desk- an old hinge, driftwood from the Sonoma coast, a Japanese figurine, and pottery by Eli.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I’m proud of four years spent with my girlfriend, Eli. I’m always learning about myself and how better to be in relationships.   

What inspires you to create?

Spending time in deserts anywhere in the Southwest. The physical expanses of the desert inform my work. The openness, the wide spaces.  I’m inspired by friends too: my next door neighbor Cheyenne Weaver, Brian Crumley, Natalie Davis, Adrienne Brabham Butler, my mom, Harriet Huss, and Eli’s mom, Delia Robinson. And finally, GOOD MUSIC: Lovers, MEN, King Tuff, Big Freedia, Jean-Eric, Missions, Ava Luna, Arcade Fire, the Luyas.

What advice would you give to an artist starting out?

Think less. Do things that will get you into feel. The more connected you are to your work, the more authentic and strong it will be. Keep doing what you do with dedication. The artists that affect culture most have created their own aesthetics over the years. They create those aesthetics through pure persistence. You can make a whole new rubric just by making what you make confidently and abundantly. Allow your work to evolve, each piece informs the next. At 28, I’m definitely just starting out myself, so this is what I ruminate on.

[image source: West Elm]

Your art is currently featured in West Elm's fall catalog. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience? 

West Elm found my work through a collaboration with Etsy. There are items from five Etsy sellers in the current fall catalog. It has been a huge amount of exposure for me, which has been wonderful. And, every Etsy and West Elm staff person I’ve worked with throughout the process has been exceptional.  (Look for my prints “Storylines” and “Ice Mountains” on pages 24-26!)

To see more of Callie Thompson's most recent work, visit her website here and her Etsy shop here.  Five percent of all profits go to Florida's Eden, a non-profit working to document and preserve Florida's natural environment.

And check back tomorrow for a giveaway of one of Callie's art prints!


Elizabeth said...

Inspiring work and I love Callie's advice for artists just starting (and great for those not too!).

Sierra said...

You are an inspiring woman. Beautiful workspace and thoughtful interview!

katy said...

Callie's advice is lovely. I see why you fell in love with her work--and see the affinity between her work and yours!

belinda marshall said...

great interview. i really love callie's work and studio space and fabrics!! love it all :)

Anonymous said...

I have been looking at bloggers who interview artists, sometimes it can be challenging to be self-employed but seeing what other artists are up to and how they view their creative life is really great. Thank you.

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