In our second exclusive interview we have the exceptionally talented Matthew Dent. Enjoy!!
1) Please introduce yourself to the readers of WeFancyIt
My name is Matthew Dent I am a freelance illustrator working from my studio in South East London. I am also co-founder of The Soho Warriors Football Club, London’s first creative led football team.
2) So what inspired you to get into illustration at first?
Growing up I was surrounded by art and drawing, and was always encouraged to make things. My grandmother was a very talented artist (I actually have some of her work up in my flat), and my mum is also a really great illustrator, she has a really natural way of drawing. So it was mainly down to my family, and being encouraged to do what i was good at, something which is really important when growing up.
3) Where did you study?
I studied film and media at the University of Westminster. I kind of floated about and didn’t really get that into it, as I was starting to get work as an illustrator. I had a really good time at University, but looking back I would have liked to take a different course, and focus more on developing my style as an illustrator. I think its really important to go to University with a definite idea and plan as to what you want to come out with, a lot of people are still leaving University with no idea as to what they want to do, wasting a lot of money and time.
4) What would you say have been the major influences in your style?
I gain much of my inspiration from the things that float around in my head, i like to dream up ideas and characters, based on the things that I may have stumbled upon in my real life. I look to maintain that sense of happiness and fun within my work, often looking at ways of keeping things simple and clean. I always make sure I do plenty of self initiated work, and like the thought of simple ideas that can work as a beautiful illustration as well as having an important message to go with it. I think it’s refreshing to see new work, and I like to keep pushing myself and developing new ideas and characters to dwell my world.
5) Is there a particular project that you are exceptionally proud of?
This project was created for the 2011 Tingbjerg Byfest festival. I was approached last year by Tor Larsson at Studio Painted in Copenhagen to work on this. The brief was to think how a design could work in different media, from flyers, posters, programs, to badges etc. Working from a starting point we looked at the idea of “going for a walk”, merging aspects of everyday life and illustrating exciting things like, music, eating, and dancing. We wanted the design to feel positive, happy and colourful, as the festival is aimed at families and in particular younger people.
6) Do you have any other shows in the pipeline?
I am working on some new work that will be shown at Pick Me Up 2012, Somerset House. This will be part of The Soho Warriors Football Club space, showcasing some of my work alongside a bunch of other illustrators and designers involved in the team.
7) What do you think 2012 holds for illustration as an art?
I don’t think things will change too much in 2012. There are a large number of creatives out there who continue to do exciting things and produce really amazing work, so I expect to see another year of exciting projects.
8) Is there any advice you would give to any budding illustrators?
Work hard, then work harder…
9) Have you dabbled in any other creative field?
Not something I ever really talk about, but I really enjoy writing and working on ideas for scripts and stories. I am currently working on an idea with my dad who also writes. We are looking to develop the idea for a feature film or TV series. Well thats the plan. I would also really like to take a screenwriting course, something I may start doing this year.
Following on from the Creative Spotlight earlier this week, Yuko Shimizu kindly agreed to answer a few questions for We Fancy It. If you didn’t catch the post, it can still be found here.
1) The story of your rise to prominence within the field of illustration is an inspiring one, is there any advice you would give to any aspiring creatives?
Whether it is illustration or anything else, I believe the key is to really want it, have high ambition, and really work hard toward that without giving up. It sounds simple, but from almost ten years of teaching as illustration instructor at School of Visual Arts (SVA, an art college in New York), I found it is not that often you see a young artist who has all of them going. It is almost that initial talent does not matter. Often what I see is a young artist who didn’t have that ‘gift’, but worked harder than anyone else, and become successful at the end. I love that.
Also, whatever you need to do to survive (i.e. day job) only makes you stronger. As an illustrator, I don’t just draw pictures, I have to negotiate with clients, and keep track of my paperwork, as well as promoting my work. All of that, I worked during my 11 years of corporate life. When I started out way later than most of other artists, I felt like I had wasted my time, but soon I realized I was just spending those 11 years to be fully ready. I don’t think I would have survived ten years of illustration life without that 11 years.
2) Was there ever a moment when you thought that you wouldn’t make it?
I actually love it when someone asks me this question. Because the answer is: all the time, and I still do. Everyone has doubt. I am sure even Beyonce or Woody Allen would have doubt. It is just human nature. And, it would probably help aspiring creatives to know that the doubt never goes away and it is OK. Of course, the kind of doubt changes according to the state you are in. I used to worry about not passing classes, or may not be able to get a visa to stay in the US, or have enough money for grocery shopping next week. I don’t worry about those anymore. But I have doubt that I may get work because the clients don’t realize how bad an artist I am. Or, job will stop coming in, when my phone does not ring for a week. I would be worried if I stopped doubting myself. If I stop doubting myself, that means I am full of myself. When you are full of yourself, you are over.
3) Your style is visually very powerful, who or what would you say have been major influences in your work?
I have lived long enough I have years and years of different influences from different artists or influences accumulated in me. I sort of stopped mentioning names of those who had influenced me in past, because most of them don’t have any relevance to me at this moment although there are definitely inerasable trace of them in my work. At this point, I believe that everyday life and experiences are the most influential to what I do and who I am.
4) I understand you currently teach at BFA level, is there anyone you would recommend keeping an eye on for the future?
Going back to 1, really, it is up to them. They may be talented, but they are young and they may end up focusing on something else in the future. Or, those who are not the best in the class end up working the hardest. I ended up never pursuing what I majored in college, so nothing wrong with that. Really, it is all up to them.
5) Aside from illustration, what are your other passions in life?
Drawing has been my hobby for most of my life sans last ten years when it became my occupation. So, really, it is hard to think what my hobby is now. It changes. I love traveling, I love cooking and eating good food, and long walks in the parks…