Meet the Members: Liam Callebout
Striking, colourful and contemporary, Liam Callebout’s work intrigues. A freelance illustrator and Resident member with us here at Gather Round, he’s got big, bold ideas and an indisputably interesting niche.
After graduating from neighbouring UWE Bristol, Liam’s freelance practice split between personal and commercial projects. Alongside illustration and animation, Liam’s work involves ‘visualising’ live events for large companies. He captures themes and topics from speakers and transforms them into palatable works of art for attendees. It’s impressive stuff!
This week we chatted about Liam’s wild working hours covering events in the Philippines and the USA, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the joy of a personal creative project and his highlight of Gather Round; our toilets!
Can you tell us what you do and what an average workday looks like?
My workdays tend to be split fairly evenly down one of two avenues, either I’ll be covering live events (currently webinars, online panels, conferences etc) or I’ll be doing some studio illustration or animation. If it’s a live event on the menu then it’ll be a delightfully stressful few hours of scrawling down any visual metaphor I can come up with to match what the presenter is saying and then formatting it in a nice digestible way for the audience. If I’m doing studio work then I could really be doing anything but usually, it will involve a company wanting a complex idea repackaged as a simple idea with some snazzy visuals to sell it.
What are you watching/reading at the moment?
I am a huge fan of audiobooks, I probably grind through over 30 hours of books a week. On the current agenda is Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’, just because I thought it might be interesting to expose myself to some philosophy I would naturally be inclined to find fairly abhorrent. It’s an absolute behemoth clocking in at 60 hours but with sceptical fascination, I am persevering. My usual reading list contains a blend of fantasy, detective books and anything with some good satire in it, although recently I have been on a bit of a dystopian novel binge (I can’t imagine why…). On the watching front, reruns of Always Sunny in Philadelphia (a show I love so much I wrote my dissertation about it), Snowpiercer, American Gods, an ungodly amount of trash tv with my housemates and paradoxically also any classic films we can get our hands on.
What excites you most about the creative process?
Undoubtedly the ideas phase, get me in a room with other people who are genuinely passionate about a project, give me a whiteboard and honestly I’ll just lose time bouncing ideas around.
What kit/tools can you not live without?
It would seem fairly obvious, but my Mac and Cintiq drawing tablet, being as I do basically everything on them, are pretty essential. The same goes for the Adobe suite. However, the most important part of my kit is my collection of fancy office chairs, one of which resides here at Gather Round. I have a disastrously bad back, so much so that I consider myself something of a connoisseur of pain, so ergonomics are a massive part of my working life and chairs are the king of the ergonomic castle.
Anything you’re working on at the moment that’s exciting you?
A personal project I have been tinkering away with for the past year with two collaborators. It is an animated TV show we hope to pitch called ‘Enter the Chlomiverse’; think procedural cop drama meets Rick and Morty meets early seasons New Girl with humour sharing its genetic roots with Always Sunny. It’s the most fun I have had creating something in my life and there isn’t enough room here to go into it but if anyone wants to listen to what it’s all about I am more than happy to chew your ear off telling you about the various episodes.
If you were to share one piece of advice to graduate illustrators what would it be?
That there is a hell of a lot of work to be done as an illustrator that isn’t in the public eye and the budgets companies have for these weird internal projects are staggering. I like to think of myself like a little pilot fish nibbling on the sides of these giant whale-like companies. The reason this is a fairly ideal scenario for me is that I earn enough money on all these regular below the line jobs that I tend to have around half the month to work on my own personal projects and pursue my own interests which will one day hopefully become my primary practice…and even if they don’t my work/life balance is pretty phenomenal.
Why did you choose Gather Round?
I had looked around at a fair few studios in Bristol and Gather Round very much fit within my aesthetic desires for a workspace and the people seemed grand. My old classmate from uni worked here and then just as my practice was picking up again last summer after diving off a cliff in March, I got an email saying a place had opened up and you can’t argue with kismet. Gather Round also has really nice toilets.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Liam. If you’re interested in having a look at Liam’s work and perhaps working together, check out his website.