From time to time I love to feature madly talented independent publishers who have a vision similar to mine and whose success inspire me to keep building, keep pushing. When web designer Christopher Jobson launched Colossal, a blog of “art and visual ingenuity,” he thought he was simply creating an inspiration board of his discoveries in the fields of photography, design, animation, painting, installation art, architecture, drawing and street art.
But his sensibility, taste and surely a bit of luck and good timing attracted a wide audience and soon enough, Colossal’s reach grew exponentially and turned Christopher into one of the most influential online curators of our generation. In a little over two years of existence, his site made it to the Top 100 Blogs worldwide! I was really excited when he agreed to do this interview and curious to learn more about his journey… Check it:
LF: What’s your background as a curator, and what inspired you to launch this site?
CJ: It’s strange but often when I’m asked this I believe people expect that I’m an artist myself, or work in the art industry, but I’ve actually worked as a web designer for nearly a decade (I studied design and creative writing in college) and the blog came about because I was just exploring personal projects for myself. It started as a place that I could post interesting visual things I found online each day, and was strongly focused on design because that’s what I was familiar with. As the weeks turned into months I really enjoyed the rhythm of discovery and the process of blogging, but I also discovered I was more interested in what I was unfamiliar with, specifically art. The thrill of finding a new artist or artwork was amazing, and I found quickly that the audience growing around Colossal seemed to feel the same way. So in that sense, I may be a curator, but I often feel as though I’m curating from the ‘outside’ so to speak, and that seems to resonate with a lot of people.
LF: Why the name Colossal? How did it come up, and how did it serve you?
CJ: When I launched the blog I truly didn’t know what it was going to be about, it was more of a practice of doing something for myself each day, similar to writing in a journal, but instead I was going to post pretty pictures of cool stuff. I came up with a list of 10-15 names, a few of which involved the word “Design”. I realized I wanted something that sounded impressive but that I wouldn’t have to change if I decided to move the editorial in a different direction so I went with Colossal. Eventually the name sort of fulfilled itself.
LF: 5 favorite projects you’ve ever published on Colossal, and why? What type of work impresses you the most?
CJ: Each one of these probably has different reasons but in most cases at the time of publication there was very little (if any) information available online about the artist or their project and I was thrilled to be able to share their work with a larger audience, either for the first time, or in the case of Anna Schuleit, for the first time in almost a decade. I think you’ll see in almost all of these pieces, I enjoy artworks that use a multitude of components or where the act of creation involves tedious, prolonged sequences in a process.
LF: What’s the best artist you’ve had a chance to discover through a user submission?
CJ: Ooh, this is tough. There are so, so many. One of my favorites was a Belgian street artist named Strook who sent me some photos where he used a subtractive pressure washing technique on a mossy wall to draw this geometric bird. I audibly yelled at my computer screen when I saw it for the first time.
LF: Are you an artist yourself?
CJ: I’m not! I took some art classes in school and managed to fail Drawing II because of non-attendance. I think the closest I get to making art is my little Instagram account. I was actually marked as a featured user last week so I’m really thankful to the Instagram team for that!
LF: Are you a collector? If so what’s the latest piece you bought?
CJ: I wouldn’t say I’m a collector but many of the artists and designers who have appeared on Colossal have also made their way into my art collection which is unfortunately in storage right now as we prepare to move.
LF: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
CJ: Play LEGOs with my four year old son. Usually it’s the LEGOs raining down on my head that wakes me up.
LF: What’s your favorite place to see art?
LF: What’s your art-world pet peeve?
CJ: As with any industry or creative endeavor there is criticism and I read and appreciate many art critics. Of course everyone is free to not like something, or tear apart its meaning, and I certainly have my own biases and tastes. But criticism is something I don’t enjoy doing publicly and you won’t find it on Colossal.
LF: Who’s your favorite living artist?
CJ: I would say at the moment it’s Ai Weiwei. One of the bravest artists alive right now.
LF: What gets you off, literally or figuratively?
CJ: Whoa! I’m going to go with a giant mug of hot chocolate. That or Sriracha. Has anyone tried both?
LF: When are you happiest?
CJ: Every fall I travel with my family to a remote cabin in northern Michigan and we spend a week lost in the woods with no electricity, lots of cards, talking, hunting, and running around outdoors. Probably then.
LF: How fast do you live?
CJ: Too fast. I generally have no idea what’s happening.