Matthew went to the Jacob Kramer Art College (now the Leeds College of Art) before working in several video production and animation companies. He built up his drawing, character design, graphic design and animation skills on the job and eventually became a freelance illustrator.
Usually, he starts with strong blocks of colour, building up a composition and the point of interest, before moving on to the detail. He loves colour, and uses it to affect focus and depth. Matthew nearly always works with vector graphics on his computer.
Whether still or animated, Matthew’s style is strong and graphic, and often quite cheerful and fun. He trained in the late 1980s when lots of shading was frowned upon, and so his work is generally stark and clean, with strong lines and colours. However, he does like to bring in some texture and lighting to add more depth to a piece.
A huge number of influences are rolled into his work – most recently Manga and working with type have opened new creative corridors for him. Asterix comics, Warner Bros cartoons, Rupert the Bear… his list goes on and on.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Matthew: I've been drawing since I was a kid. I figured out quite quickly that I had little talent for anything else, and that there was no opportunity to trip over my own shoelaces whilst painting! Question: Do you have any formal design training? Matthew: I studied for 2 years at Leeds College of Art and Design, which I really enjoyed. I didn't go on to do a degree, but did do a year's apprenticeship with an animation production company in Bradford. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Matthew: I grew up in Leeds and have never really felt that strong a pull to move away. It's a fairly diverse city that for the most part successfully bridges culture and heritage, plus there's a good animation network too, so it keeps me busy! Question: Describe the view from your studio window? Matthew: The studio runs the full length of the house, so I have windows looking out on a lovely garden and a decidedly boring looking street. I can get quite easily distracted when I work, so my drawing desk is set up so I'm looking at the street. Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Matthew: I spend a lot of time on google images for picture research, and the rest in Waterstones mining through design and animation tombs. I also have an embarrassingly large collection of comics and graphic novels which I keep meaning to pair down and never getting round to. Question: How do you get your ideas? Matthew: I love looking through 60's and early 70's cartoon illustrations and animations, old record covers, films, paintings, all sorts really. I certainly don't have a set inspiration method, it's all down to the brief; that usually points the way forward. Question: Do you collect anything? Matthew: I used to be a terrible hoarder, and now enjoy keeping things nice and minimal wherever possible.
Question: Do you keep a scrapbook? Matthew: Not a physical one. Having read a fair few of the scrapbooks from the other illustrators at Illustration though, I'm seriously thinking about it. I do have 100's of neatly indexed links in firefox. Question: What are your interests outside of illustration? Matthew: I play squash, have been learning salsa for a couple of years and have been studying kung fu for the best part of a decade. One day I'll try and find a way of combining all three into the ultimate hobby. Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Matthew: Character/Set design for the next Disney film. (And if the mouse is reading this, I am available!) Question: Who are your illustration heroes? Matthew: Brian Froud, John J Muth, Derek Riggs, Ralph Steadman, Katsuhiro Otomo, Quentin Blake, Preston Blair - there is a very, very long list. Question: Have you any hidden talents? Matthew: My left arm is double jointed. It has been absolutely no help in being a better artist! Question: What is the funniest thing you have ever done? Matthew: Some 'friends' recently signed me up for a seat on the Virgin Galactic space shuttle. They found it terribly amusing when I received a chase up call from Virgin asking how I wished to pay the 50 grand deposit. Question: If you could live anywhere, where would you go? Matthew: For the minute, I'm happy exactly where I am, although I know a lot of people who are in the middle of emigrating to Australia. They tell me its like Britain but without all the hang ups! Question: If you won the lottery what would you do with the money? Matthew: I've no idea! I've never been a big one for lotteries, not so sure having that much money is necessarily such a good thing. Question: What do you have bookmarked? Matthew: I'm looking at a new 3D package at the moment called Houdini, so lots of links about that. Question: What is your favourite graphics programme? Matthew: Toss up between Flash, Photoshop and Painter.