Melbourne street artist Cam Scale has a way of infiltrating into the minds of others. From accurately capturing people’s personalities in his new exhibition ‘State of Mind’ or simply from the ability his pieces have of staying with you, his work is truly eye-catching and has to be seen. We had a chat to him ahead of his Melbourne exhibition and about the Geelong scene.
Hi Cam, thanks for taking the time to chat with us, how is the new exhibition coming along?
No worries. Yeah it’s been pretty busy in the lead up to the show. Great to see it all stretched and hung now. The opening was on the 8th and had a great response.
Your newest show ‘State of Mind’ shows of the portraits of people you’ve crossed as part of your street art, are there any in the collection that were hard to capture their “state of mind” – so to speak?
The initial concept was to capture the people I interact with when painting out the street. You get all sorts, both positive and negative that want to chat or voice an opinion. Attempting to capture that mentality or ‘state of mind’ was fun and challenging. The idea then evolved to include other artists. I wanted to show them as well as their own personal style. Rather than trying to replicate, it was far more interesting in both the process and finished work to have them actually collaborate on their own portrait in some way. I think each has its own unique attitude or persona and this shows through in the style of work they do. If I had to choose one, probably the Slicer portrait. He has always avoided having his image published so after many failed attempts to convince him the idea to have his back to the viewer finally got it over the line. I think that also captures him perfectly.
You also did a few on graffiti cleaners, what was your interaction with them?
Particularly from a graffiti background, most work in prominent spots has a very short life span. The cleaners in a weird way are a bit like curators, deciding what needs to be removed and when. I think in that way they are almost a forgotten side of the street art movement. Many artists/graffiti writers see them as the enemy, but from the ones I’ve talked to, they actually appreciate or even like a lot of the work. It’s just the job they do.
The collection is based off a series of portraits, and your work is famous for that, what draws you to capturing people the way you do?
I don’t know really, I think I just like trying to paint the people I know or see around me. There is so much diversity around and painting someone that friends will recognise is challenging. It’s trying to capture that particular person’s essence. Sometimes you get it, sometime you don’t.
When did this habit/craft of yours first come to fruition? Do you remember the first serious portrait you drew of someone?
It’s something I avoided for a long time. I found it very difficult and still do but it is the challenge that makes it rewarding. The first portrait I remember drawing was my father watching TV. The proportions were all over the place but the likeness was there and I think he may still have it somewhere.
And when was the moment you first realised you wanted to become a street artist?
There wasn’t ever a precise moment. I started painting graffiti as a teenager and it has simply evolved from there. Always trying different styles of letters and techniques led to characters, 3D pieces, etc and now more into realism. It’s the constant evolution the keeps it interesting.
Collaborations with fellow street artists; Anthony Lister, Slicer and Nost helped you find your style, what did you take away from them?
Collaborating with different artists makes you assess your process constantly. Working out how best to interact with – not only their style but also their personality – keeps things evolving.
What’s the biggest thing that working in the creative medium that you do has taught you?
To just keep going – no matter how bad you think it’s looking, it gets better.
You’ve done a few things in Geelong, what are your thoughts on the street art culture there?
Like most smaller cities it has a small scene, but there are a lot of talented people coming up. Geelong has taken a good approach to harness this. With a council backed murals in the CBD and private sites like the Powerhouse.
Are there any up and comers from Geelong and regional Victoria that we should keep an eye out for?
I don’t know about up and comers, but Lowe is an established artist that is constantly producing amazing work. The 1201 crew and Micheal Cassar just finished an amazing wall in Minns lane in the city.
You can see several of Cam’s works around Geelong and at his exhibition in Melbourne at Juddy Roller Gallery until July 31. For more information visit his website.