Alumni Feature: Jim Campbell

April 23, 2014

Jim Campbell, an artist based in Indiana, attended Montserrat in the 1970s.

Carved from a Stack of Books,
im Campbell’s Artwork is Bound to Inspire
by Kristin D’Agostino

In looking at Montserrat alumnus Jim Campbell’s work, it’s easy to see the Indiana-based artist has a good sense of humor. A cookie, baked to a golden crisp, is displayed in a lower corner of his website. But, viewers beware- this is not your grandma’s chocolate chip cookie. Baked from a mold the artist carved himself, this tasty treat resembles an ancient relic found in a museum, complete with scene straight off a Japanese vase- a woman standing in front of a temple, gazing into the distance. This cookie is one example of how Campbell, a freelance designer and painter, likes to amuse himself and stay creatively challenged.

Campbell attended Montserrat in the early 1970’s. After decades working in the printing industry as a designer, in the 1990’s with the advent of digital, Campbell was forced to reinvent himself. He studied Adobe InDesign and CAD technical drawing software, and spent the next years carving out a new career for himself as a freelance designer. These days he designs traveling exhibits for commercial clients.

Campbell does his part to keep print alive by carving sculptures out of old books.

When he’s not working, Campbell enjoys creating multi-media paintings and sculptures from materials such as foam, PVC and lightweight concrete. His brightly colored wall sculptures are geometric in their design, like Van Gogh in 3 D.

Recently Campbell has found a way to reconnect with the printing world: He’s been carving sculptures out of stacks of old books and magazines. “It’s a type of low relief carving into the edge of the publications,” the artist explains. “It keeps the spines intact and the surface of the pages acts like a relief surface.”

In one piece entitled The Tenth Muse, a voluptuous woman looks as though she’s about to step out of a stack of magazines. This sculpture, Campbell says, took about three weeks to create through a combination of rough carving and work with a band saw. The print sculptures, the artist says, are just another way stay challenged.

This cookie, titled Whispering Mountain, was inspired by Asian artwork.

As for the cookie, this blogger wants to know, are there more, and will he share?

Unfortunately, no, says Campbell; the cookies were a passing phase. The curious must satisfy their hunger by feasting their eyes on the digital version on the artist’s website. Every last special cookie edition was eaten by friends and family.

Still painting and exhibiting his work locally, Campbell says he remembers his time at Montserrat fondly. “The teachers do a lot for helping you find yourself. The requirements of the classroom, the pressure to keep working and producing is important to being an artist.”