Tell me about yourself, Matt.
I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my wife Lynda and son Max. Since late 2005 I've been a self-employed artist and designer, and I'm extremely glad I decided to take the plunge into working on my own. Since becoming self employed I've really [grown] as an artist and had so much fun. I adore watching documentaries, have never broken a bone, love pizza and Asian foods, am addicted to synthesizers and Apple products, and my music/movie collection is an ever growing beast. I love being surrounded by toys and whimsical things and I feel so deeply connected to making art that I can't be away from it for more than a day.
How did you originally get into your craft?
Through the years I worked various graphic design jobs while making art for myself, zines, websites, bands and commissions. And then I got into the world of the office desk job. The corporate art world can be awesome, but it can also be extremely demanding. I'll gladly struggle with art and design for good reasons, but when it comes down to just producing as much art as humanly as often as possible, the burn out factor is very major.
I hit a major realization when my son was born that I couldn't juggle the corporate world, fatherhood, and personal art projects. So I had to snip my weakest link.
From 2006 through 2008 I really worked hard to promote my art and maintain an online store. Now I happily balance personal art making with various art jobs I get signed on to do. And I love it.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
All my life my absolute favorite thing to do is goof around. I don't care if that means telling jokes, wresting around with my son, taking some time to day dream, reading a comic book, talking gibberish with a friend, or making a funny little movie An example of one of my newest short films can be found here. Absurdity is fun. I love laughing, I adore making other people laugh and I firmly believe there are few things more powerful than letting out pent up feelings by being goofy.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
In my opinion, art is the sort of thing that should promote itself. If you love making art and expressing yourself, you should equally love showing people what you make. Keeping dedicated to what you do is always a challenge and showcasing it it even more of a challenge. But if you stay passionate, especially in art, you will continue to grab new eyes to look at what you do. If a person can look at enough of my art all at once… see updates… see examples of my dedication, my style and my sorts of subject matter, it usually gives them a good idea of whether or not my art will be of service for them. And the process has worked out beautifully for quite a few years now. And when projects go well, people I have worked for have given me excellent word of mouth which also brings more art jobs to me. But no matter what, I'll always fear that if I stop drawing, or stop posting things for a while, I could greatly damage the momentum I may have.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
When I was a youngster, I was always drawing. When I was in middle school and high school, I took as many art classes as I could wrap my brain around. And then for college, I attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design where I got a Bachelors degree in Illustration. I’ve always wanted to be a professional artist. Aside from maybe being a comedian, or author, there is no other job I would want to take.
What item in your collection would you like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
This is hard question! I think I'd have to choose one piece of my art that showcases how much I enjoy drawing animals and my love for silly, whimsical things. So, I selected my SQUIRREL WITH A KEYTAR drawing
It pretty much sums me up.
What other artists out there do you love?
I love a lot of what is currently going on in art, but I intentionally do not follow things too much. I don't want the things I make to get stuck in to many modern trappings. Turning more towards the past, here is a small list of favorite artists:
What does your future hold?
Even though the mediums I like making art in traditionally are best for small format art, I'd like to challenge myself to work in larger formats. Aside from that, I am always interested in finding new surfaces to work on, or have my art appear on. I want to see myself working more with clothing labels and musicians on collaborations. I need to team up with more people. I used to trade art with people and work on things together long distance, but I haven't done much of that in years.
And some day it would be great to put out a book of my art. I've been testing that by getting pieces in various published things lately, but I think it would be cool to collect my art into a themed book.
Also, while I love having my art in gallery shows, I see myself doing less and less of that as the years go by.
2011 is such a fun year for me! I've been hard at work on preliminary art for a huge project with the new Children's Hospital in Chicago, IL. I am in the early stages of working on some interesting fashion design and wearable versions of my masks with a super cool company. We hope to have a bunch of stuff out by Halloween this year. And I am putting out a ton of new t-shirts with various American and European labels. It is a good year for shirts! And I am working on making surfboard art for an awesome company. Never thought I'd do something like that!
Also, I'll be traveling around a bit to so some indie art/craft shows and I have a few drawings in some really cool art shows this year. Some art teaching might be coming up too. And I expect to be debuting a lot of stuff at my online stores and boutiques that carry what I do.
I've got to stay busy!!! I have to have fun!