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Artjail’s Clinton Homuth: “You’re Never at Your Limit”


The colourist tells LBB why nowhere ‘synthesises creativity’ quite like Canada, and how he’s deepening his understanding of the present day by delving into art history

Artjail’s Clinton Homuth: “You’re Never at Your Limit”

On one side of a decadent table, a pair of disembodied hands clasp around a freshly decapitated head. All around, onlookers - many of noble standing - clasp each others’ shoulders and cower in some cocktail of shock, fear, and awe. From on high, an imposing figure - perhaps a sculpture, or maybe some kind of God - gestures purposefully with a sharp sword towards the scene of the crime. And, on one side of the table, a blinding flash of light creates a path from which a mysterious black silhouette emerges. 

Les deux têtes, or ‘the two heads’ in English, is a remarkable painting. Created in 1898 by Auguste Leroux (older brother to the more celebrated painter Georges Paul Leroux), it depicts an otherworldly and arrestingly brutal scene. It’s also a source of fascination to Clinton Homuth, Artjail’s restlessly creative colourist based out of Toronto, who has developed a hobby out of sourcing quality renderings of obscure historical art. 

Above: Les deux têtes can be seen at the Maison de Victor Hugo in Paris (Source). 

“So much of what we see in imagery today is a copy of a copy of a copy”, explains Clinton, “which affects both how it appears to us, and our memories of what the subject of any given image actually looks like”. 

Fittingly, Clinton’s quest to find the highest possible resolutions of images is a small act of rebellion against that problem. He tells LBB that his collection, which he estimates to comprise hundreds of images, might be posted online one day - but for now, it will remain a source of personal inspiration. 

If paints the Artjail colourist as a kind of Indiana Jones for digital art, it’s not a wildly inaccurate comparison. There’s no question that Clinton is passionate about art and imagery - a quality that visibly bleeds into his work, too. 

Above: Since joining Artjail in 2018, Clinton has worked on campaigns for clients including Google and Hulu amongst many others including Ikea helmed by director Adam Berg and DP Linus Sandgren.

But for all his dedication to his craft, a career in the creative world was never a guarantee for Clinton. Born in “a town of about four thousand people” to his accountant father and head teacher mother, Clinton recalls how it was being the third out of five brothers that truly brought his inner creativity to the fore. “As you can imagine, that’s kind of a busy dinner table”, he recalls. “I’d have to get inventive in order to get noticed, which to be perfectly honest I kind of enjoyed”. 

Making his start in the industry, however, Clinton ran into some challenges which fundamentally shaped the colourist he is today. “Graduating into the middle of the recession era in 2009, you had to ask yourself some serious questions about what you really wanted to do”, he says. “But for me, this was always going to be the answer. It was just a case of working out what the best way to make it happen”. 

As a result, Clinton is able to dip into that same deep well of motivation which he dug in order to find his path in the industry early on. “Something I’ve learned is that you’re never quite at your limit in terms of what you’re capable of”, he says. “Sometimes it might seem like it, but there’s always another gear you can switch to”.

Above: Clinton and Artjail’s recent work with Henry Scofield, for this bombastic Doritos ad, tasked the team with depicting multiple worlds and time periods through their post production expertise. 

Amidst an industry climate of heightening demand and tightening deadlines, that’s a useful perspective to have. “I’ve always agreed with the sentiment that work expands - or contracts - to fill the time you’ve set aside for it”, he notes. “If I tell myself I have three hours to complete a task, it’s amazing how much I can get done”. 

Now, Clinton is happily settled in at Artjail, splitting his time between the New York, Toronto and Los Angeles studios in an environment where he’s continually able to push himself and to find that next gear. “Received wisdom is that you’re always best off to have a backup plan”, he reflects, “but I disagree. You’re best off leaving yourself with no option other than to really drive for the thing that you ultimately want”. 

Above: Clinton was part of the team which brought Hulu’s coverage of Black History Month to life in 2022. 

Whilst his work is undeniably fast-paced, however, Clinton still finds time to think remarkably deeply about the state of colour in a modern context. Recently, a painting from the Cuban artist Tomas Sanchez has found him reflecting on the way nature is depicted. “You can look back hundreds of years of art - at how Renaissance painters saw water, or how American painters represented the colours of geysers - and you can learn so much about how they perceived the world”, he says. “And, ultimately, that comes back to how we think about those eras and how people at that time would have perceived nature”.

Above: Saturated greens and blues adorn this breath taking piece by the late Cuban painter Tomas Sanchez (Source). 

But today, that same logic is played out on a massive scale. “Thanks to smartphones, everyone in the world makes post-production decisions on a daily basis. Even choosing not to apply a filter to a photo is a choice”, he says. “So you do see increased saturation in modern imagery that speaks to a heightened sense of reality we all seem to want to depict - let’s call it ‘aspirational reality’”. 

In the world of commercials, ‘aspirational reality’ feels like a familiar concept. But it’s fascinating to see it tied back to paintings created hundreds of years ago by artists who, when all is said and done, were just as influenced by the culture around them as the average person painstakingly uploading their best holiday photos to Instagram is today. 

For Clinton, it’s the art which doesn’t so often get talked about which provides the most inspiration. “There are some really underappreciated artists who certainly don’t get the fame or attention they deserve”, he says. “Because of the nature of the internet, we tend to think that everything is out there somewhere. But it’s not - there are so many hidden gems that deserve to be explored”. 

As far as Artjail’s clients are concerned, that’s a good thing. For as long as Clinton continues to find inspiration in uncovering under-appreciated art, he’ll continue to channel it into his work. Whatever comes next, one thing at least can be guaranteed: Clinton will throw himself into any creative challenge with the same energy and passion that has defined his career up to now. 

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Artjail, Wed, 14 Dec 2022 10:29:11 GMT