Hello Matt, first of all, tell us something about your upcoming work. What are you into at the moment?
You actually caught me at a really great time. I’ve just come down from a very busy 5 month span of Gallery exhibitions and travel. Over the summer I did a few murals in Los Angeles, but also traveled to Pennsylvania, Atlanta, Massachusetts, and Hong Kong to paint. During that time I had two exhibitions in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Right now I’m in a bit of relaxation mode. On a beach in Cancun Mexico resting up before my next project, Art Basel in Miami Florida at the beginning of December.
Let’s start from the color, in most of your pieces it literally explodes on the wall. Could you reveal something about how you’re able to achieve your outcome, I mean, which do you think is the main key of your technique?
Before I began painting, I was a full time illustrator and graphic designer. I’ve been working with color for a long time now. Admittedly, the first few years were pretty rough, but over time I began realizing which colors compliment each other and play off of one another. It’s just little things that may seem small.. things like using orange instead of a mustard or brown for Yellow’s shading which really help my work pop and come alive.
I think that the first message coming from your art is always an invitation to look beyond, to discover life in a different sense, to pull out the joyful aspect that resides in us. What has brought into your life the artistic expression, the mural?
I’m glad that you look at my artwork and find joy, because that’s 100% what I’m trying to convey. The purpose of what I’m doing is to create easily accessible artwork for everyone. In almost all of my work, it begins with a character or scenario that most people are already familiar with. I then put my own spin on the piece. It’s a way for people to see something that they’re already familiar with in a new light. Almost like a cover song.
You blew my mind with your most recent pieces painted in Hong Kong. Could you tell us something about it, I mean, how did you prepare for such a body of work?
Well, thank you. To be honest, there wasn’t much preparation for that show – I just went for it. At the time I was offered the Hong Kong show I was about half finished creating artwork for a solo exhibit in Los Angeles. I was offered this huge opportunity to come to Hong Kong for an exhibition and to paint murals, but I was given a month and a half to create ten pieces. Because of the tight timeline, I just started painting. However, there isn’t much prep-work in any of my pieces, aside from collecting materials and references. When I get a cool idea in my head I just go for it.
Disneys, Simpsons, video game heroes…What do you think have determined your obsessions?
In a word, my childhood.
I’ve always been interested in artistic urgency that drives you to communicate an idea outdoor, visible to all. What is your relationship with this inner need, how long it last the satisfaction for a just completed outdoor piece?
While I love working in my studio on a canvas piece, painting outside does have it’s merits. The entire reason I left my job as a graphic designer to paint was the need to travel and move and be outside. Each outdoor mural is different. Each wall presents it’s own challenges and opportunities.. where to get the materials.. how you’ll reach each corner of the wall.. who you’ll meet while painting. When you’ve finished and step away, the artwork stays and livens up the area in which it’s been painted. Not only is it a billboard for the artist’s work, but it’s a lasting gift to the community and art lovers who come to see the mural, photograph it, use it as backdrops in their own projects, etc.
What kind of relationship do you have with the work of other artists?
I mean, when you see a nice work it pushes you to do better or you don’t give in to the temptation of being influenced?
Moving to Los Angeles and being surrounded by amazing artwork has definitely pushed me and my own work to become better.
When I was younger and starting out, I used to see a great piece and become intimidated. Now, I’ve entered a state of mind where I can fully appreciate other’s work while fueling my desire to be better. In a perfect world, I’d be surrounded by fantastic work always.
Have you ever been afraid to seem repetitive? Sometimes lazy artistic curators or gallerists tend to label the artists with a specialty. Maybe you could be called “the one who plays with cartoons..” Have you ever felt the need to do something completely different?
Of course. I’ve been a full time artist now for 8 years. During the first five, I was doing something completely different. It was a lot of monsters and original creations. Eventually I got bored and burnt out with doing it. Then I got depressed. “Playing with cartoons” came from a point of wanting to pull myself out of a depression that I had fallen into. It began just as fun and play, and began growing very quickly. I can’t speak about how or what I’ll be doing years from now – but for the time being I am truly enjoying the work I’m creating.
Most of the artists claim to be original, saying something new or better than others. But looking at the infinite artistic production achieved so far is very hard not to find something mentioned earlier. I know it’s hard to admit, but if you had to choose one artist or an artistic movement, of who would you say, “Well, I took something from him, I’m in debit with him”?
It’s not hard for me at all. As I told you before, I used to be a graphic designer. All day long computers. Never painted. I began trying to paint on a whim. I really didn’t know how to or possess any technical skills. Around the time I began, I was lucky enough to visit a museum in Philadelphia Pennsylvania which had a KAWS exhibit. I couldn’t believe the technical skill in his pieces! I immediately began realizing the desire in myself to create flawless painted pieces that almost look like they were created digitally. Sometimes, people compare what I’m doing to KAWS and sometimes NYCHOS. I can 100% see the similarities and I’ll be the first to admit they’re huge influences. At the end of the day I am truly enjoying the work I’m creating and not maliciously or consciously trying to steal their methods or ideas. I think that 99% of the people who see my work know that.
If you look at your earlier pieces, do you see something completely different from now, I mean, how has your work evolved over the years from when you were beginning?
If you look at my entire 8 year art career – the early work is very different than now. In the beginning I was solely working on the computer. All my artwork was digital. I got my start creating neon, drippy, ugly shirt designs for the music industry. I really wasn’t happy with the work I was creating, but it was paying my bills and I didn’t need a regular 9-5 job. Around 3 years ago I gave all that up and began to paint the Deconstructive Pop Art. My early paintings were very crude with rough line work. The idea was there, but at the time I was still uncomfortable with the tools and I think it shows in the work. Although I’m only three years into painting, I believe my work has grown leaps and bounds in the short time. This is a result of absolutely and completely diving head first into painting. I’ve done nothing but paint almost daily for the last three years!
When you were 13, what did you want to be?
An Artist. And thin.
Over the past decade the murals have multiplied ceaselessly, what do you like most and what you don’t of the current street art scene?
I love the surge of artwork. I’d much rather see a wall with a great piece on it than a blank boring wall. Because I’m so new at all of this, it’s not my place to comment negatively on the scene. I just hope to keep working and improving and eventually make my place in it’s world.
Quick reply. Something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to.
I want Matt Greoning from the Simpsons to call and ask if I’d come in and do a Couch Gag during the opening of an episode.
Something you would like to see in this world before dying.
What kind of music do you listen to while you’re working (if any)?
I grew up listening to Punk. I really try to make an effort to broaden my horizons and branch out. Every time I’m not paying attention though, I find myself going right back.
Thanks Matt for your time, to conclude, tell me something about your future, tell me what would you like to achieve as goals, in five months, and in five years from now.
My life is exactly what I want it to be. My goal is to just keep exploring my work and growing as an artist. I do hope to travel more and meet more people also.
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