An interview with Co-Founder of Site Collective Callum Ritchie
Callum Ritchie co-founded Site Collective with fellow students Dominic Lovegrove-Saville and Julia Triay Sarasa while they were studying BA (Hons) Illustration. After graduating in 2019, Callum is now studying MA Communication Design, so we catch up with him about the collective and how it works alongside his MA.
What is Site Collective and how did it came about?
Julia, Dominic and I met on BA (Hons) Illustration in fresher’s week. We founded Site Collective around the beginning of 2019. It all started from a stand-alone pop up exhibition with the intention of bringing together different creative groups in Norwich.
We’re now registered as a design studio and take regular commissions that blend design, illustration and the expanded arts to create comprehensive communication solutions for clients around the UK. We also have an events arm to our business which helps us grow our community of creatives.
Tell us a bit about the events side of Site?
The events are an important part of our business and we’ve hosted them in Norwich, London, Surrey and Majorca. They take a variety of forms with the focus on a sharing ethos about bringing together creatives to help expand networks, discuss practice and create opportunities.
We have done a variety of pop-up shops and helped raised over £2,000 for local independent creatives, as well as collaborating with a variety of organisations. We run on a minimal profit scheme in order to encourage diversity and inclusivity for people who can’t afford exhibition fees.
We also run more casual socially-focused events that directly encourage conversation and collaboration. These take the form of writer and illustrator meets, drink and draws and much more.
Artwork by Callum Ritchie, Julia Triay Sarasa and Dominic Lovegrove-Saville respectively.
How do you manage your MA Communication Design and Site Collective alongside each other?
At the start of my MA I made the decision to focus on developing my personal practice. It’s definitely a symbiotic relationship though, the university is an extremely active creative place, so it feels like a constant collaboration.
The tutors across undergraduate and postgraduate have been very supportive and understanding, often attending events, lending equipment and offering advice.
How do you keep your creativity whilst working as a professional?
I’m a big advocate of stepping outside of your creative bubble and comfort zone. I do this by going to as many events and meeting as many people as possible, exposing myself to a lot of different creative energies.
I also like to explore alternative creative scenes such as music, poetry and street wear which are things that are outside of my area of creative practice but can be brought in through collaboration.
More personally, things that I find help inspire and recharge my creativity include watching absurdist comedy, listening to psychedelic rock music, reading philosophy and art history books, going to galleries, doing some exercise and taking a long hard holiday.
Ultimately it is about getting out of your head so you can get back into it in new ways with new perspectives.
Do you think Norwich is a creative place?
Norwich is a very creative place but what makes it special is the openness of its community. It’s got a unique DIY-focused creative scene and it allows a much more diverse group of people to be involved. Most people are looking to collaborate or at least give you the time of day which is part of what made starting this business so natural.
There’s a lot of people doing a lot of cool things here in Norwich and they often have connections bigger than the city. This makes its quite a lovely and quirky place to live. Everyone should get involved!
What’s next for Site?
We intend to keep growing while enjoying ourselves and providing a good time for local creatives. We’re continuing to run our monthly drink and draws moving them online to Zoom. We’ve also got an open call for submissions for a pop-up exhibition later in the year hopefully themed around the Occult and everyone should apply.
Our long-term goal is to open a printmaking studio and keep taking on socially-engaged design and illustration commissions. From there, we’d love to embed ourselves into some of Europe’s creative communities by taking up residencies and collaborating on shows.