Callum Rooney - Silk Screens and Skateboards

Meet our poster artist for April / Paengawhåwhå - Callum Rooney!

Callum is bringing his 80s design inspired work to our weekly line-up posters this month, as well as a limited run of stickers. The self-taught artist with a degree in ethnomusicology is firmly grounded in the local music scene and comes to the Woods already responsible for some great poster designs and album cover art. We caught up with Callum to talk musical inspiration, skateboard culture and the undefeated DIY aesthetic of the underground.


So, first up, how did you get into design?

I guess I've always been into art and the main drive for that has been my interest in music and the art and design that surrounds it, be it gig posters or record sleeves. Another big one was skateboard graphics when I was younger and skating. I'm a sucker for the classic 80s skate art. I didn't get into actually designing and drawing for the publicly until I was actively playing in a gigging band and we needed merch or album art. From there I got into screen printing too, as I saw it as a way of pushing my art/design practice more and saving money doing it all in house haha!


Who have you worked with so far?

I recently did a gig poster design and run of silk screened posters for the A Place To Bury Strangers Auckland show which was cool. I'm always pushing to do more printed one off posters for gigs as I feel like there's a real hole in that area in New Zealand. I've also recently finished the LP cover for Wellington band Earth Tongue's forthcoming record. Other clients include Garage Project, Budweiser, Samsung and lots of local and a few international bands doing shirt designs or posters, etc....

And on top of all that you’re in your own band too! Tell us a little more about that.

Ounce is a five piece band in which I play baritone guitar and attempt to 'sing'. Its a bit of melting pot of all the music we love, lots of Sabbath and Can vibes mixed with jazz and funk nuances buts its probably most described as Krautrock and Psych rock. We really dig the repetitive groove driven thing. We've just put out our debut record 'Oz' at the start of march on local label 1:12 records, limited to 300 vinyl copies.


What's your perfect night out and what would you like to see more of in the nightlife culture of Auckland?

Usually a gig or a movie, with a few beers and a burrito haha. Considering how big Auckland is- I'd like to see more music venues outside of the inner city.

How has your love of music and skate culture informed your art?

Skate art definitely had more of an influence on me as a youngster. I guess it made me more aware of functional illustration and design that is disposable, that gets worn and destroyed on a board. It also made me aware of all the branding and packaging design of all the products and the immersive nature of brand identity. As I got older and into playing and listening to music, that kinda immersive visual identity carried on from skate art. As a teenager I listened to a lot of punk, metal and prog kinda stuff. Unlike pop music those kinds of bands weren't marketed based on their appearances, they were represented by the weird cover art on the records. Music art and design is definitely my biggest inspiration now and made me want to actively create my own stuff.


We've been working with more and more artists who haven't been through the traditional art school route. Has your DIY philosophy given you access to the Auckland art scene?

Yea I'd say the DIY aesthetic of underground music has given me an opportunity to develop a visual art practice. I'm not sure I'd be so active without that relationship.


Which of your projects has/have been most important to developing your current style?

I can't think of one particular project that has specifically developed my style, its been a gradual development, and I'm always trying new things. It depends on the project really. Recently I've been using a lot of digital techniques spliced in with hand drawn stuff. But if I screen print the work, it has to fit within that rather restrictive framework of analogue print. Medium and process really informs the style so its all swings and roundabouts.


What have you been working on recently?

I had a new print in the Wrought material show, other than that, I'm always working on new merch for my band Ounce. I'm also working towards potentially collating a book of work with new illustrations and reworked older material. It may be a large format screenprinted book (kinda like those oldschool poster books) or riso or both... But I gotta figure out those kinks and limitations as it will definitely inform the content.

And lastly, what's on your drawing/painting/art creating playlist right now?

Sun Ra, Soft Machine, Can, Tangerine Dream, Neu!, Oh Sees, Funkadelic...

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