Interview with Matthew Edwards | graphic & digital art 21/01/2013

Q: How did you get into art? What made you to become an artist?
A: It was the result of turning a hobby into something more. I had done various jobs which I, frankly, hated, so I thought it was about time that I did something that I enjoyed. I have always had a real need to create things, and if that is semi-naked women then so be it!

Q: Do you remember your first creations? Give me a little overview.
A: I have always sketched, the first art that I can remember creating was a commission to draw my school building, must have been about 9 at the time. Sitting in a little plastic chair on my own in a big empty playground for days on end. Not a lot has changed really, I’m still sitting around on my own, just drawing, though not in a playground (that would be weird).

Q: Do you have any influences that helped you in developing your own style?
A: ’m not sure that I really have a set style, I think that it changes and evolves depending on the project. My design background has influenced me, I am not desperate to fill my images with clutter. I appreciate space. Someone like the late Nick Dewar was definitely someone who I looked up to. His work was simple yet strong, He didn’t really do backgrounds either, sometimes the overall design has more power and impact without unnecessary distractions. The subject stands out more.

Q: Do you find art as an addiction? Looking at your masterpieces today I would rather say that drawing was easy for you. How much time was necessary to learn the basic skills?
A: It is a great feeling to finish a design and be really happy with it. That’s an addictive feeling. I used to try to make sure that the current project always came out better than the last.. Constant improvement really, and I think that generally it has worked out that way. Go back a few years and the quality was a lot worse. I don’t really consider my work to be great, though I do like it. But the next project, that WILL be great. That’s how I motivate myself!

Q: Looking at your art portfolio is a great way to get inspired. Seems like your very inspired by the punk-rock music style. Are you? What type of music do you prefer?
A: I love the attitude and personality of punk. I can definitely relate to the genre, I have had a mohawk hairstyle myself and it’s a great experience walking down the street and having people cross the road to avoid you! Total outsider, society just doesn’t understand you.

I listen to all kinds of music, I’m looking forward to the new Scars on Broadway album when it finally arrives, but generally my tastes are pretty open. Under ‘E’ on my iPod I have Edward Elgar, Eminem, Elvis, Emilie Autumn, Ennio Morricone, Evanescence and Evergrey. Pretty mixed bag! Maybe that’s the ultimate music taste test, ask someone what they have under ‘E’ on their iPod...

Q: Few words on creativity?
A: Being productive, inquisitive, tenacious, open-minded, thoughtful, unafraid, unapologetic. I wouldn’t consider myself balanced in any way, shape or form though! I think creativity thrives the closer to insanity you get. Sometimes it helps to throw logic out of the window.

Q: Talking of your style... Can you relate yourself with some of your characters?
A: I think most of my work centers around people because they are the most fascinating subject. I would like to think that the personality of the character comes through. I kinda feel like I know the women in my art, or have grown to know them in some strange way. I hope people can relate to them too. Their secret is to enjoy life, which is beautifully simple but not necessarily easy. I can definitely relate to that myself.

Q: Beautiful punk-rock tattooed women are really eye-catching designs in your portfolio. Do you feel inspired by the women nature? Do you want to see more women on the streets like your imaginary muses? :)
A: I would never get any work done if there was! But yeah, I am inspired a lot by women. They are the fairer sex aren’t they? I think traditionally and historically women have had a raw deal compared to men, in terms of expressing themselves and conforming to expected ideals. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. It’s the 21st century now, empowered women saying, doing and acting how they want. Individuals being themselves rather than how someone else expects them to be.

Q: How do you feel about the modern-popular media? Do you feel overwhelmed? Would you change something?
A: The internet is both helpful and distracting, a massive time-sink if you allow it to be. What would I change? Reality TV. That’s overwhelming. Any celebrity that has ever been on a judging panel and been deliberately nasty just for effect, should be put in a rocket and fired into the sun. Now if they televised that I’d watch...with popcorn and beer.

Q: Do you feel powerful as a designer to bring some messages to the masses and hopefully change some opinions, brake taboos?
A: Design is all about difference, so yes, especially concerning sexually-related art. Society has drilled it into us that the naked body is to be frowned upon and hidden away, yet so many artists have utilized the nude form from Picasso, Degas, Michelangelo, Dali through to Da Vinci, Rodin and Van Gogh. They all knew how beautiful it is, so why not celebrate that, rather than be uncomfortable about it? Nudity seems a bit sordid, which it shouldn’t be. Society tends to stick rigidly to the prudish past like an overly-nostalgic facehugger.

Q: To be an artist must be a real joy... How do you usually cope the basic ideas with the final design, do you use a sketchbook? Tell me about the making process.
A: I have a lot of sketchbooks. They are pretty chaotic though, in no order whatsoever and often, at best, filled with nonsense, strange symbols and quotes from films, and at worst, swear words and scribbled body parts. Getting from a very vague idea to a fully-formed one is the challenging part. But once that is done then it’s normally a case of getting on with slowly developing the artwork with a clear vision in mind. That is the intense concentration stage, where I probably bear more than a passing resemblance to Marty Feldman.

Q: Have you ever thought to change something in your style and start working on something different?
A: Have a lot of interesting projects coming up, many of which are completely different to anything I have done before. I don't feel constrained into continuing to do the same thing again and again, yet that doesn’t mean I am leaving the punk pop-art alone, I am sure there will be some more in the coming months.

Q: What keeps you creative? What is coming in your mind every morning while you go to work? Is there any trick that people should know in order to become successful?
A: I like being productive. It would be a slow death otherwise. I feel a need to do something, I am quite restless really. I suppose what drives me is that if I sit around all day doing nothing then I will achieve nothing. Maybe that is the trick, put the effort in. If all else fails there is always sucrose, caffeine and nicotine. The three amigos.

Q: People could be ruff, jealous, crazy, super-cool... As an artist, what are some of your greatest challenges or obstacles you face?
A: If you have confidence in what you’re doing, it is easier. But trying to please everybody is never a good idea. Some don’t get it, others don’t like it, but if I have a belief in what I’m doing then really the biggest obstacle is patience. I need a lot of that, and I often don’t have much.

Q: Art could be a great influence on someone's personality. What is the best lesson that you've learned from your art journey?
A: Always carry a Moleskine. Mine are full of notes, ideas and general silliness. I wrote a whole apocalyptic zombie story for a magazine article on a train once in about half an hour. Would never have remembered half of it without writing it down. Plus they are always handy for sketching the odd unsuspecting stranger picking their nose.

Q: Do you find art in general as a cure, an endless salvation?
A: I have never really thought about it that way. Maybe it is a cure, but to what? Boredom, self-worth, poverty? Imagination is a massive reservoir to dip into, so it seems quite insane to me, not to do so. Not creating, I would exist, sure, but I wouldn’t really feel alive.

Q: Do you have any advice for the new artists?
A: Three ‘P’s. Patience, Perseverance and Pterodactyls. In other words take your time, keep going and use your imagination!

Please feel free to share your feature plans and share your website.
I am currently taking part in an exhibition called Women: Fact & Fiction in Minnesota and I have just finished creating a new website featuring all my illustrative work from the past few years -

Oh, and I have an online store too, it’s brand new and sells all manner of goodies and paper-based badass-ery (I think I made that word up).