At 52 Insights we love a disrupter, someone who sees a creative niche and makes an artform out of it. Kalen Hollomon is one of them. An American artist who came across something so incredibly simple as applying a cut-out onto a physical object or placing a brand name on an image of someone homeless and destitute. The humorous and controversial nature of Hollomon’s work allows us to see collage art in a whole new light. By using many different forms to make his art including collage, photography, painting, sculpture and sound he has managed to build an exciting body of work. At almost 100,000 followers on Instagram and a growing embrace from the fashion and art world (working with Gucci and Calvin Klein), we wanted to find out more from this mysterious and talented artist.
Your work is a combination of the bizarre, provocative and fun. I’m pretty amazed collage art can be so simple but so effective. Would you agree?
I do agree. When two ideas are joined, something completely new is revealed and I think the best of it inspires first an outward assessment or reaction to what you’re seeing and then some introspection about why. Simply collaging a red square next to a blue square forces me to rethink my idea of what red is. I think it’s as simple as that, but wherever your head can go regarding what it is to be red, or what red is, or how you see red — well, it can be as complex as that.
There are elements of ridicule and satire in your work, with a hidden play on capitalism in some cases that really makes the viewer think. Is this intentional or are you just doing what you feel comes to you intuitively?
I’m working from a natural, intuitive creative place. If the work is thought provoking I think it’s because I’m seeking that for myself as I make it. I like absurdity and to question capitalism sure, as well as the difference or non-difference between poor people and rich people, the lack of space between images that could be considered hideous or beautiful from a purely aesthetic perspective, norms we’ve been socialized to believe, the things that lurk somewhere and bind us in the human condition and the way all of these things can come together and alter perspective.
So as I understand it you carry cut-outs of people in your pocket and when the moment is right you paste people in using your iPhone. Do you head out in the day on guerrilla style missions?
A few years ago my pockets were overflowing with cut outs, I would leave a trail of torn paper wherever I went. I slowed down doing the real time collage for a while but have recently started up again just a little bit. Sometimes I go out on a mission, but I think I find a purer success when I create something naturally in the moment, whenever something that feels right strikes me.
What work of yours has received the strongest reaction?
Probably my fashion related collages. A lot of people like to see a modified Michael Jordan too.
Social media channels like Instagram are an important outlet for your work, I’m still not sure we’ve all made sense of the enormity of such channels. It’s resulted in a lot of frivolity. But your work is such a welcome breath of fresh air, it’s perfectly suited to that medium. How do you view the overload of imagery out there? You’ve said that you didn’t really take it seriously when you first got on there.
Instagram is the only social media platform I’ve actively participated in. You’re right, I didn’t take IG seriously at all in the beginning, even now I’m not sure how serious I should feel about it. An unexpected but welcomed side effect has been meeting so many people in the real world via IG. And I do appreciate the overload of imagery, all of it. There’s a lot of garbage but I can always just turn my phone off if I’m not in the mood.
What have you learnt about people through your work?
It’s strengthened my belief that people are capable of anything.
Your work seems to have endless possibilities for inspiration. What does the future hold for you as an artist?
The only thing I can be sure of is that I will keep making work, and hopefully I don’t end up sleeping in a cardboard box in the alley.