Artist Interview with Matt Taylor
04 July 2023
Do you have a love for comics? If so, there is an artist you simply must know - Matt Taylor. His impressive portfolio spans over a decade of work with a diverse range of clients, such as Adidas, Sony AMC, and GQ. Drawing upon his passion for Americana and vintage comics from the mid-twentieth century, his art is truly a sight to behold. Recently, we had the opportunity to catch up with him and discuss his career, inspirations, and even his recent travels to Japan. Read on to discover more about this talented artist.
Tell us about yourself... How did your career kick-off and what makes an illustration a Matt Taylor illustration?
I’ll answer the second part first: too much colour.
As for the first part… I came to illustration in a roundabout way. I studied graphic design and advertising at university, but soon realised I was much more interested in making the images for the adverts than coming up with ideas. I bounced around a few part-time jobs and wound up doing art for friends bands and local club night flyers.
I made a very rudimentary website of some drawings and sent a link to one of what was only a handful of blogs about art. They shared my link (this was before even thumbnails), and work started to come in. As I built my portfolio, I made my website a bit sharper and started sending postcard mailers and emails to art directors of magazines that I scribbled down the addresses from in WHSmiths and Borders.
A slow snowball of work gradually gathered speed despite my attempts to knock it off course (by briefly becoming a lumberjack and managing a shoe shop - not at the same time), and now here we are twenty years later and I’m still doing it. Most days I still can’t believe I get to do it.
Did your passion for comics start from an early age and do you still draw inspiration from the genre?
I got into comics at age 9 after watching Tim Burton’s Batman (way too young). My passion grew in my late teens, I discovered art and stories that existed outside of the realm of superheroes which was a real eye-opener. Now I explore a wider range of comics, thanks to a great store in Brighton - Dave's Comics - which carries everything from superheroes to niche genre stories and abstract art comics to choose from.
I’m influenced more by my memories of comics growing up than one's I’m actively reading right now - Jack Kirby’s sci-fi weirdness is something I tend to go back to over and over when I’m brainstorming projects. I’ve just started work on a series of covers for the autumn relaunch of The Flash from DC so I’m tapping into as much abstract 50’s style oddity as possible for those.
If you were stranded on a desert island what five things would you choose to have with you?
My daughters, my girlfriend, a pencil and paper.
You created artwork for The Electric Mayhem album for Disney Music. Is music an area you feel strongly connected to and is there a particular artist you like to listen to when creating music?
I definitely have a strong connection to music - I generally have something playing most of the day, from Lauren Laverne on 6Music when I wake up to the last record before bed to wind down. I try and listen to just about everything while I work - I don’t have any real favourite genres, one day it can be bubblegum pop, the next black metal, the next the kind of glitchy electronic music my girlfriend calls ‘panic attack music’ (and I therefore listen to on my headphones when she’s around). That said, I perpetually love and listen to Carly Rae Jepsen, and I am determined to make some art for her one day.
Last year you worked on an extensive campaign for Nike, we've noticed a shift in your work recently, please tell us about that.
Those two things are related but probably not in the way you expect! Over the last few years, my work has been getting increasingly more polished and detailed, but I felt like it was at the expense of it feeling expressive or dynamic - everything was starting to feel a little stiff. The Nike project (which I shared working on with absolute super-star Oliver Barrett) was probably the most significant example of this; whilst I was happy with the finished pieces and how they looked when they were out in the wild, because of the nature of painting some of the worlds most prominent athletes, everything had to be almost photorealistic.
You went on a trip to Japan at the beginning of this year, what were the highlights of your trip?
Honestly? All of it. I’ve wanted to go to Japan since I was a teenager and it only took me twenty-five years to get there. I was very lucky to be staying at an amazing gallery/residential space in Taito Ward called Almost Perfect. My girlfriend was doing a residency there and I joined her for the last two weeks of a month's stay. Taito is to the east of the city and is traditionally where a lot of the craftspeople and makers are based - there were incredible paper and ink stores a few streets away from the gallery. The food, shopping and architecture were amazing. The Ghibli Museum (unsurprisingly) was amazing. I can’t wait to go back.
If you could relocate your studio anywhere for a year where would that be?
With the caveat that I could also move my girlfriend and her dog, my kids and their mum and her partner and cat so that no one missed out seeing anyone else for a whole year… Tokyo, in an instant (for the reasons above). Also, I think everyone else would like it there too.
Explore Matt's portfolio to discover more of his amazing creations!