We recently interviewed Caleb Morris, the artist who created this year’s Sunday in the Park ft. Tunes from the Tombs poster design. Read the interview below to learn about Caleb and his art.
Find out more about Sunday in the Park (happening at Oakland on September 24) and get your tickets here.
Can you talk a little bit about your personal background?
I grew up on the Gulf Coast, wandered around the country, working odd jobs and ended up in Atlanta for school. After graduating, a couple of illustrator friends and I started a little gallery called Paper Ghost. One of the shows we did was centered around Atlanta, and that’s where I first started making the Neighborhoods prints. From there, I drew a ton of different neighborhoods around the city and it slowly expanded to other cities around the country. Now between the business and freelance illustration projects, it feels like I’m drawing with both hands at the same time.
What made you want to become an artist?
I’ve been drawing since I could remember, but didn’t think I was actually good enough to do it as a career so I stopped as a teenager and came back to it when I was 25. I got a job painting and sculpting Mardi Gras floats in Mobile, AL. I’d never painted or sculpted before so there was a lot of on-the-job training and getting yelled at, but I eventually figured it out. I started checking out books on how to paint at the library (there weren’t a lot of YouTube tutorials at the time), then I got into art school when I was 30 and moved to Atlanta. I had some great teachers and after a lot of late nights and early mornings, I’d gotten good enough that companies started to hire me for projects.
What/who are some of your biggest inspirations?
Traveling is my biggest inspiration, any time I get to explore a new country, region, or even a new neighborhood or building, I always come away with something. Conversations with strangers while traveling is another big inspiration. The other day, a 93-year-old man from the Mississippi delta told me that he knew which of his relatives were from the delta because their skin had a yellow tint from all of the mosquitoes giving them yellow fever. Stories like that stick in my head and end up coming out in my work later on.
Can you talk a little bit about your artistic process?
Everything starts in a sketchbook where I first try to come up with a good concept. From there, it depends on what kind of project it is. If it’s a shirt, mural, or a poster design, it needs to have a big central element so that’s the direction I start with. If it’s a Neighborhoods print, I don’t plan much and try to create visual problems to solve as I draw. That usually makes the landmarks fit together in more creative and interesting ways. Sometimes, it’s something I’ve never done before like designing stage decorations for touring bands and then I have a whole new thing to learn. I’m lucky that I’m always getting to work on something new.
What was your inspiration and process when creating this year’s Sunday in the Park art?
When I started sketching ideas for the poster I thought I had a good idea with the statue and guitar, but halfway through the final drawing, I found an older poster that someone had done with something similar. I didn’t want anyone to think I’d copied it so I suggested we try something different. Everybody at Oakland was super supportive and said they loved the drawing and that it had a different feel to it so we kept pushing forward. I’m glad we stuck with the original idea. I think it does a good job of capturing the community feel of the event, the feeling of fall in the city, and I still got to draw two of my favorite things, statues and guitars.