Gradwatch: George McCallum, Illustration, University of the West of England

“I like to do things that people would think too ridiculous to actually invest time in doing”

Describe your work/style in five words:
Colourful, playful, energetic, interactive, ‘tongue-in-cheek’.

What drives your creativity/work?
I love the idea of looking at mundane and everyday objects and situations and approaching them from a different perspective. I like to do things that people would think too ridiculous to actually invest time in doing, like a chest of drawers in the shape of a man’s torso, or a chair in the shape of Chairman Mao. Playing with words and images is something that I find fun. The idea of using whatever material best fits the brief, whether that be pen and paper, MDF or 20 packets of cake mix really appeals to me.

What idea or project of yours encapsulates your approach best, (and why)?
I think my ‘Funiture’ is the project that best sums up my work, as it incorporates all the elements I enjoy working with. Simple and silly jokes that are not age or gender specific, I would like to think a five year-old would take as much pleasure from them as a 55 year-old.

What is the strangest thing you’ve done on a project?
I’ve had some pretty surreal moments carting my work around. Getting in a lift cradling a bright orange man’s torso was pretty odd, and carrying Chairman Mao up a flight of stairs got some funny looks.

If you could steal a talent from three people you admire, what would you choose, from whom, (and why?)
Tom Sacks makes all these crazy sculptures and installations; some of them are ridiculously complex. I really admire the way he approaches his work, so I think I’d like to steal his technical ability (sorry Tom). It’s not one person but a group of people, but I am obsessed with Memphis Milano’s work, because of their fun, iconic, forward-thinking designs. I really admire the whole movement and would like to nick their ability to create such clean, well-considered design pieces whilst not taking themselves too seriously. And David Shrigley – I would take his effortless sense of humour.

Who would you give your right arm to work with (and why)?
I want to work on a music video building some kind of elaborate set or environment using my visual language. Canada are doing some great stuff at the moment so to have the opportunity to work with them would be amazing. Not sure how much I’d get done with one arm though.

What would be your dream commission/project?
To make an installation that took over a whole house. Everything in it would have a double meaning, the blinds would blink at you, the chairs would be made of arms and the wardrobes would explode when opened.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Hopefully established and working with my own workshop/studio with a diverse portfolio and a client list that I can say I am proud of.

How will illustration have changed in ten years’ time?
Hopefully it will still involve being hands-on. I have nothing against computers but there’s nothing like the tangibility of something you have made with your own two hands.

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