A true Australian skate legend, Morgan Campbell's passion for life is infectious. It shines through in everything he creates. We caught up in Morgan's new found hometown of Melbourne to find out more about the method behind his artistic madness.
So Morgan, what inspires you to create your artwork?
Remixing anything is fun. Words, skateboard tricks, sounds, video, images. They are all intriguing to me... I'm fascinated by unlikely combinations. I enjoy that entities that don't 'belong' together can often actually coexist quite gracefully. Can you do a tailslide to smith grind? Can you replace a hairbrush with an echidna? How will it look? How would it make you feel? These are questions that plague me.
Your work to me looks like it could have been picked from a dream given the obscure nature of the content. Do dreams influence your pieces?
I am very honoured that you think this, but I am sad to say that I don't think my dreams directly influence my pieces, well maybe they do, but what influences me more than anything is our planet and its surroundings. Collage-wise I trust my initial notions. When I look at a photo I'll get often get inspired to go down a certain route with it. If I don't immediately vibe off it, but there is potential there, I'll cut it out and sit on it. As far as what inspires the arrangements that form the final piece: I am usually doing one of two things: either frolicking around having fun with an idea, or sometimes I'll vibe off of events or movements - good or bad - that are happening or have happened around the planet. The magazines I use for the collages are all pre December 1989 and they really do depict a different, less-connected world. Despite their initial setting in our timeline, it is often possible to reposition them.
Were you interested in art from a young age? Or is it something you have found later in life?
I was very lucky to be given vast cultural inspiration by my mother and my aunt. From the youngest age I was going to concerts and exhibitions. The first gig I can remember was Bob Marley. I know right? Pretty insane. My mother is a professor of English Literature. She has an incredible mind. I was given a super solid foundation to work within art or be an artist. Admittedly, initially I rebelled. I was super into science and skateboarding. Skateboarding is of course an artform, but studiously I just loved maths and physics. Then at uni, briefly studying engineering I found out I was on the wrong trajectory and have been solely focused on creative pursuits ever since.
Have you ever considered moving into animation or any other direction using your collages?
I have actually. I have spoke to a rad human about this also. It could happen down the line for sure. Thanks for the reminder.
What specifically appeals to you about collage artwork as opposed to other artistic styles?
I am not really a drawer or a painter. I think maybe I could do sculpture, but I am not sure. I do however, feel pretty comfortable with a scalpel in my hand. As I said I enjoy remixing. Using pre-existing images or objects and turning them into something else is fun. Plus it is a form of recycling right?
You also eat, sleep and live skateboarding. Does being a skater directly affect your artwork?
I think I eat, sleep and live anything I enjoy. You have nailed it though those are definitely my two main passions. As far as a direct affect on my artwork I think me being a skateboarder has had influence for sure. I was lucky enough to see the world via my skateboard. Often settings for my collages are places I have actually been, so that maybe helps me grasp a better feel for the location. Another benefit of skateboarding is that when you fall you get hurt. When you have grown up knowing that any mistake could cost you surgery or potentially your life, other pursuits are pretty mellow. The worst things that could happen with my artwork are a finger cuts or people thinking I am an idiot. Neither of those scare me in the slightest.
You had quite a few shows all over the globe recently, how did they go? How was the reaction from people in different countries?
It was pretty mind blowing for me to have those overseas shows. People were very enthusiastic about the work and seemed to feel a connection with it. Back in 2015 I was pretty nervous about my first show and also the second one. They were two years ago in Perth and Melbourne. The reaction was overwhelming to say the least. My first two shows were close to selling out. Since then though I figure if something appeals to a cross section of city dwellers in Perth or Melbourne. It may have a similar kind of impact in other places. This seemed to be the case in the end: Glasgow and Paris shows were greeted with enthusiasm by those that attended. Due to my friend / educational revolutionary John Dahlquist, I was able to speak to the art and skate students at Bryggeriets Gymnasium in Malmö. This was a monumental moment for me. The kids were so inspiring and lovely and their program is truly word class. The more I have travelled as of late, the more people I stumble across who have been following my work via social media.
What would you create for a commissioned project with a bottomless budget? No pressure Morgan (commissioners might be reading)
I'd love to see one of my pieces on the side of a giant building. A series of them maybe.
What are you working on at the moment that we can look forward to seeing?
I am working on a board graphic for a US brand. I am working towards a group show called adidas showcase that is taking place in December here in Melbourne. I am
also actually working on some giant collages for the sides of buildings, just in case the opportunity ever arises. I am constantly updating my webstore (www.dejaglu.com) with mostly prints, but also original collages.
Massive thanks to all of my friends and family, all those who helped initiate shows, have supported my shows and various déja glu projects. If I start naming names I will no doubt forget some. But you know who you are and I am eternally grateful. Also a big shout out to all those that help keep me skateboarding: butter goods, the 4 skate co, adidas skateboarding, independent trucks and modus bearings.