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Callum Preston describes himself in conversation as “a guy from Melbourne who enjoys making stuff and being busy.” It’s hard to convey just how much of an understatement that is. Callum is so consumed by his creative projects that it’s surprising we managed to pin him down for an interview. Whether it is in his roles as a graphic designer, artist, restaurateur, musician, blogger, television show set designer, or noted ‘Back To The Future enthusiast – Callum fully immerses himself in every project that he takes on. With an unwavering commitment to quality work, and a strong DIY ethos, Callum is a testament to the fact that sometimes you can do it all.

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Callum wears the Converse All Star Low in Black, available at Hype DC.

How would you describe your practice? 

I suppose I would at this point just call myself a ‘freelance creative,’ I will pretty much have a go at anything, but the real foundations of my work are based in illustration, graphic design, and art. My business card just says ‘Callum Preston – Professional Person’ ‘cos basically that’s it.

You seem to do a little bit of everything. Do you find it’s important to diversify your creative output?

I have kind of built that reputation, it’s fair enough ‘cos I do try my hand at a lot of things. Having said that I know my limits too, and if I don’t think I can pull off the final product with quality than I just wont do it. The diversity of what I do is totally what keeps me going. If I get stuck on one thing for too long I become bored of it. I have found that when I burn out on any one creative output and leave it, I always eventually come back to it. Then I enjoy getting back in touch with it all over again, but that could be could be three months later or even three years.

You’ve got a strong background in the independent music scene. Do you think that’s helped foster a DIY attitude to the way you approach work? 

One hundred percent. Music changed, and possibly saved, my life. I started playing in bands when I was 12 years old, and have done ever since. There is a priceless experience in making flyers, putting them up, and chasing down shows and promotion. That was my whole world when I was a teenager, and that totally shaped my ability to think creatively. 

A lot of young creatives reference skate and punk cultures as major influences. What is it about those scenes that always resonate so strongly?

Those things will ever stop being an influence on the young and creative. They’re a petri dish for creative expression, it just comes out in different way. For some people it’s the boost they need to draw them out of their shell enough to believe in themselves and take risks. For others they are so wild and crazy as it is, punk music or skating provides just enough of a framework to keep them from exploding.

For me personally it’s always been about possibility, things like people staring their own record labels, pros doing their own graphics, bands touring and sleeping on floors. It said get out there and do it, no ones gonna just hand it to you, use your energy.

How did you come to be involved with painting the Sea Sheppard whaling protest ships?

We have a few friends who were crewmembers onboard the ships, punk kids and people we knew from different corners of the world. These are people that wanted to help, some of them never having even been on a boat. When I moved back to Melbourne from Seattle they had started docking long term. We would go and hang out, and became friends with a lot of the crew.

They had recently bought a new boat for the fleet and a friend asked me over dinner one night if I would consider painting teeth of the bow of the newly camouflaged ship. It was an amazing opportunity, not only to support my friends who are risking their lives for the cause, but also to be part of the intimidation tactics. 

Can you give us a quick breakdown of Everfresh, and how you came to be involved with the collective? 

Everfresh is a studio grouping based here in Melbourne which started in the back corner of a warehouse as a place to meet and store supplies to then go out and paint on the streets. In 2005 the opportunity for a bigger space came up for a proper rental type situation. At that point the “crew” assembled to be a bit more of an official thing. We were in that space for almost eight years up until 2012. Around the end of 2013 we secured a new studio in Collingwood with a long lease, and have really built it out to fit our needs. It feels like the most functional and productive set up we have had.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am flat out on the design and construction of a new food business that will be revealed in the coming months. I also have a bunch of graphic design work on for some fashion and music stuff, including a big project for Parkway Drive. As well as blogging Australian content for The Hundreds, some set design and scenic stuff for a TV show, and I am working on painting more walls and murals around about. Oh and I’m having my first ever solo show in October. Remember, busy is not a dirty word!

What’s the focus for your solo show?

I’m actually doing a show called “Bootleg to the Future” which is going to be a Back to the Future tribute show as seen through my mind. It’s kind of a cross between an art show, product design, fan fiction, and a full-blown installation experience. It’s happening on Wednesday October 21st 2015 — the day and year Marty goes to the future in the film.

You’re a little obsessed with Back to the Future aren’t you?

It’s nothing too crazy. I don’t get offended if people don’t like Back to the Future, I mean I’ve never seen star wars and that seems to make people flip out. It was a big part of my youth and I really like to celebrate it. That said, if you come to my show it will probably render any of my downplaying of an obsession totally invalid and you’ll think I’m a crazy person.

Photography by Ryan Cookson