Live-painting artist Scramble Campbell lets the music move him
Keith "Scramble" Campbell's studio moves around: sometimes it's at the Five Points Jazz Festival, sometimes at the Fox Theatre and other times it's at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. In fact, Campbell has painted at so many concerts that he has created a database-driven web site where you can look up one of his 2,255 paintings by venue or by the band that was playing while he was painting. For Campbell, summers are the busiest season as he sets out to paint at as many shows as possible, and this summer he's even busier, as he readies for the release of a new documentary, Scramble Vision, which showcases Campbells's lifestyle; his work will also be showcased at Red Rocks July 3-10.
Scramble Campbell works on his piece, Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks.
Campbell took some time to talk to us about what music and art have in common, why he lives in Colorado and the best thing about seeing a show at Red Rocks.
How did you get started live painting at concerts?
Back in the late '80s and early '90s, I started painting with DJs, as part of the rave scene. So I would be at the night club showing my installations and then I would be on stage painting during the show. Then I started doing it with friends in bands, and eventually I started painting more and more for bands.
How do you pick who to paint for? Do bands call you, or do you call them?
I kind of make-up my own schedule. Now I am in partnerships and relationships with different bands and venues. I don't make a mess and I've been doing it a long time, and so the long term relationships developed out of trust and respect. I have a lot of freedom, though -- I largely just decide who I want to paint and when I want to paint them.
I saw that you were at a Snoop Dogg show, which seems different than the bands you usually paint -- are you a fan?
I'm a fan of Red Rocks, so I paint the different people who come into Red Rocks, like Snoop Dogg, and it creates some diversity. I've painted over 700 bands, so I've run the gamut -- from Colorado Symphony, to rock, to jam bands. Jam bands are who I've been painting since '93, so those are the people I've been painting with the longest, but I wouldn't say I only paint for one type of band.
What does your process look like?
When I come to do the painting I largely don't know where I'm going to be, so I make up my composition when I get there. Sometimes I focus in on the band, or sometimes I focus on the audience or the venue itself, but even if I am very familiar with the band itself, I make it different every time, just like they make it every time. I've painted String Cheese over 170 times, and they never play the same thing, so either will I. Ill be painting with them again this summer at Red Rocks.