I had the privilege to interview Dark Matter Illustration about his awesome work….
1. Tell us a bit about yourself….
My name is Matt Jacobs. I’m a 27 year old Illustration graduate living in and around London.
2. Are you self-taught or do you have a formal education in art?
A bit of both really. I’ve been passionate about drawing since I can remember. I pretty much sucked at everything else as a kid and so I focused on making the most of the one thing I could kinda do to an acceptable standard. University was more or less an affirmation of that realisation. I learned a lot at Uni, but it was more industry based stuff. My personal methods of working are a result of my own motivation and experimentation.
3. Do you think that it is important to have a degree in illustration?
Nope. Like I said previously, Uni is more about prepping you for the real world and pushing you to work outside your comfort zone. In terms of increasing your employment prospects, however, the modern day degree is just an expensive piece of paper. It will be your application and hunger to succeed in what you do that ultimately decides where you end up.
4. Would you say that you have your own style? If so, how would you describe it?
I have a few methods of working depending on the project, but I wouldn’t like to say I had a specific “style” yet… I don’t think I’ve refined anything enough to carry that title. It’s kinda hard to describe as well, without sounding like an arty fag. I guess I’ll just let the work speak for itself!
5. What, if any, messages do you try and portray through your art?
Hmm… interesting question. Now I think about it, most of my illustrations don’t really try to convey a message. I’ve never really been huge on semiotics. I’m a huge fan of Shepard Fairey, but not because of his political leanings. I just think his art is awesome. Similarly, with my own work, it’s the aesthetic that carries precedent over underlying messages. That said, it is important that the art communicates with its audience beyond a visual level, akin to the way classical music without lyrics isn’t simply hearing the sound, but experiencing it on an audible and psychological level.
6. What is the best and worst thing about being an Illustrator?
Best thing is that awesome feeling you get when you create something wonderful. Worst thing is that sinking feeling you get ten seconds later after browsing other artists on Tumblr and realising you suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
7. How do you go about choosing the subject matter for your work and what draws you to create such imagery?
Anyone that’s seen my personal work will soon be aware of the very obvious theme: everything (well, the vast majority) I draw is feminine. I don’t mean girly, but it’s of women. There’s something about the female form, beyond the obvious animalistic attraction, that just makes me want to stop what I’m doing and draw it. If I’m creating a portrait, I’ll tend to work with delicate, suggestive features and marry them will bold lines and marks. If it’s a full body, I love contrast and unusual body shapes.
8. Can you describe your typical working method?
With my digital work, I will always start with a concept in a sketchbook using a pen or pencil. It’ll usually end up being a total mess of lines and shapes, which I’ll then translate into something a little cleaner. This then gets scanned and imported into Adobe Illustrator. I keep the drawing in the background as a loose reference but, more often than not, the digital work usually goes in a direction of its own. The same process applies for traditional illustration, minus the scanning bit, of course.
9. Who, or what, influences you?
I’m a big lover of beautiful, well thought out portrait photography. I wanted to go into photography for a long time before I finally settled on Illustration, so I guess it’s kind of reflected in my work. In terms of artists, I love the work of Paula Bonet. It’s elegant, delicate and just makes me want to draw. Miss Led, Gabriel Moreno and Glenn Arthur are also big influences of mine.
10. Have you worked for any clients? If so, how did you find them or did they contact you?
I’ve done a few projects for clients, all of which have come to me directly or been recommended by someone else. I take each and every one as a blessing, as there are so many awesome artists out there right now. Sometimes I think, during a project, “Am I really the right person for this?”, but that’s a stinky attitude to have. I give every single one my all and, at the end, I am always the biggest critic.
11. What are your opinions on the current state of illustration?
Perhaps just that, like many aspects of the creative industry, its importance is overlooked slightly. To be honest, I try not to focus on Illustration as a whole. I just draw and take the opportunities as and when they come.
12. What kind of music do you like and does it influence your work?
I love a whole variety of music, but there is only one type I listen to whilst drawing, and that’s Ambient/Post Rock. To epitomise, I’d say Sigur Ros. I’ve long had a fascination with the link between music and art, as they are essentially two sides of the same coin. I can’t work without music, and I think a lot of what I listen to dictates the outcome of my work.
13. You do both personal and commercial projects. How does the work created for them differ and which one do you prefer?
I’d say that, at the moment, I enjoy personal work far more, only because the commercial stuff I’ve done tends to be a little outside my comfort zone and so I’m having to adapt the way I work to suit the brief. This is by no means a bad thing but, in an ideal world, the work for clients would go hand in hand with my own stuff.
14. How do you market yourself?
Social media, promotional packages, and running down the street naked throwing business cards at old women and telling trees to keep the noise down.
15. If you could work for any client, who would it be and why?
Sigur Ros. Simply because their music has influenced so much of my work to date, and are largely the reason why I feel it’s so important to have a creative outlet.
16. Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators?
I AM an aspiring illustrator! Does anyone have any advice for me?