Mixed-Media Collage Is Lakeland Artist’s Niche

“If I have something sitting in front of me, I’ll find a way to make it look good,” he says.

“It’s not so much about a message.”

Campbell, who was born in Boston, moved to Lakeland in 1994. He began learning the foundation of art while in high school, and graduated from George Jenkins High School in 2001. He then pursued a few art classes at Polk State College and created abstract paintings for a couple of years. But after he got his first apartment, he had to switch media to something smaller and cleaner.

Around 2005, he began creating mixed-media collages. Many of his earlier pieces were constructed in Joseph Cornell-style shallow boxes, combining human figures from 1950s vintage advertising with found objects. The boxes, he explains, came to being simply because of available materials. He had a supply of old drawers that he had received from his dad, and he decided to use them as the frames for his work.

“They’re well made, not going to fall apart,” he explained, “so why not use them?”

His newer work, while keeping with the collage style he established in the boxes, has become flatter and more two-dimensional. His compositions tend toward a graphic design aesthetic, with a figure on a single ground surrounded by other elements. Considering he is currently a graphic design student at Keiser University, the simplicity of his style may also be influenced by his schoolwork.

He finds the advertising he is drawn toward are the same ads used by 20th-century Pop Artists, such as Richard Hamilton.

“It’s interesting to read articles about Pop Art and see those artists using Lucky Strike ads and things like that,” Campbell says.

While Campbell does not create work that has a specific meaning, asking him about an individual piece will elicit an explanation of the process and thinking behind the final image.

With two jobs, a nearly 2-year-old son and school, Campbell somehow still manages to produce his artwork. Some days he paints, other days he creates collages. He would love to expand into purely three-dimensional sculpture.

Campbell’s work is hanging in the Tennessee Carriage Lofts. He said he hopes to find more opportunities for gallery and art festival exhibitions in the future.