Monday, 19 September 2011

Zupi Magazine

The Brazilian art magazine Zupi were kind enough to interview me the other month, and last week I finally received a copy of the issue

Here is the complete interview along with some photos of the article:

Matt, first of all: when did your interest in art begin?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or doodling. I don’t know what the impulse was, but I just wanted to make pictures

Many of your creations have this tender, childlike thing. So tell us, what kind of kid were you?
As a child, I was never into sport or running around like a crazed delinquent. I’d much rather sit and observe, happy in my own little world. Aside from drawing I was obsessed with Lego. I’d spend hours creating buildings and towns, something that’s definitely reflected in my ongoing series of ‘house’ designs

Your creations have this magic aesthetics. Is that the way you see the world? Do you consider yourself an optimistic person?
My childhood was centred on creating opportunities of fantasy, be it in making art, building Lego, reading a book, looking at pictures, etc. I still see the imagery in my work as a product of imagination, but more as a means of escapism. I’ve been told by close friends that my work reflects my mood, though not in a way you’d perhaps expect. I’m not an optimistic person, and it’s for this reason that I make art. It’s a panacea and device to help me work things out

Your compositions are full of detail. How long does it take to create a piece?
It’s difficult to say really, though I’m a stickler for detail and getting everything right, especially in terms of colour. From start to finish, an average piece of work could take perhaps 6-8 hours. That’s for something that starts as a drawing, is then redrawn in Illustrator as line work, coloured and then edited in Photoshop. More complex pieces will span a couple of days’ work or a week, whereas something that is worked on entirely in Photoshop will take a lot less time

Would you say the magic aesthetics of your art is more naive, like children world, or more psychedelic, coming straight from the crazy 70s?
Not to sit on the fence, but I’d say a bit of both. The imagery often stems from doodling, so that’s close to a child-like inspiration. But the process of work, of letting things find their own form, creating patterns, sequencing, recognising common elements, etc is more akin to a psychotropic journey. This is the all-encompassing purpose and function of my creativity, with the artwork forming the evidence and by-product of these actions

Colour is a key element in your art. Is there a colour that you avoid, or that you think doesn't match your style?
Colour is my drug. I’m fascinated by its power and potential, and I love playing around with combinations and unlikely palettes to see if I can get them to work together. I try and use all colours, but looking at past work I clearly favour warm palettes and certain hues or tones

You illustrate various cities around the world. What are your favourite destinations? Which place that you have never been to would you like to visit?
I’ve visited areas of Eastern Europe and the Far East, though by far my favourite destination is Japan. I’ve been there twice and I’m looking forward to returning again soon. I’ve not yet visited the USA, even though last September I was due to fly out to San Francisco to attend the launch of a project I’d worked on for Microsoft. I got as far as the airport but had to cancel just before leaving due to ill health. I’d love to visit Russia at some point too – I’m fascinated by their rich culture, heritage and architecture, and I’m sure the vodka is the finest in the world!

Do you prefer to create by hand or via computer?
All of my work starts from a drawing that’s then digitally developed, but I’d really like to get back to more handmade processes. I studied Fine Art, so all of my initial education and training centred on painting and printmaking. The tactile process and physical outcome, other than a digital print, is a lot more rewarding. Of course handmade work can sometimes be more time consuming, and the space of a studio would be essential for me make a mess. It’s something I’d like to consider for the future

Have you ever explored street art?
I’ve never been involved with street art, but I do find some of it quite interesting. However, as with all art forms and disciplines, there’s a lot of work that I don’t really like. What’s worse is that I feel angry at times that poor work remains imposed into view by the nature of its public setting. Such work that most riles me are those that are badly crafted, generic or unresolved. I can choose not to see, hear or read equivalent work in all other creative genres, but with bad street art it’s unavoidable to see and drags down the reputation and respect of those artists doing things that are truly innovative

You seem to like details; so tell us a curious detail of your life
I suddenly feel like I’m playing truth or dare! Is this a time for confessions?! I’m quite a boring person so have few wild and wonderful secrets. Having said that, I was taught music at junior school by Liz Hurley’s mum. I’m afraid that’s as close as I get to celebrity

Your art remind us of the amount of information in which we are submerged today. What is the beauty, in your opinion, about the chaos, the confusion, the excess?
I’m a great believer in the idea that everything has the potential of reflecting beauty. This is my remaining sense of optimism because much of what I see is far removed from anything I feel remotely connected to. The past few years of global economic meltdown and more recent natural disasters seem to reflect a sense of ‘what goes around comes around’. Life is brief, and for the majority of people in the world it’s pretty shit too. However, even the worst situations could be seen as distorted beauty; beauty as a potential and origin that defiantly underlies everything, however bad on the surface it may seem. If I can’t believe this, things could seem pretty hopeless

I know it's hard, but if you could resume your art into one word that would be...?


  1. Nice interview.
    Been a fan of your work since I discovered you at the start of the year.
    You've definitely influenced me to get back into drawing and finding my own style I'm comfortable with, so thank you!
    Keep up the grant work!

  2. Thanks for the kind words Matt...
    Onwards and upwards!