Follow the Leader

Have you seen the wonderful project started by Sean and Anna of Sub-Studio called Follow the Leader?

From the website:

Follow The Leader is a small project that we dreamt up recently that focuses on three things we like: friends, illustration, and collaborating with friends. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please download your favorite drawing (hi-res pdfs – can be opened in Illustrator or Photoshop, or printed out and drawn on by hand) and complete the drawing, however you are inspired to do so. There’s only one rule: The location and size of our initial seed drawing should remain the same.

This one here, titled “I like motorbikes and carousel horses.” is done by the fabulous Rebecca Murphy.

Artist Interview: Matthew Scott

Matthew caught my eye with his bold and confident brushstrokes that can be found throughout his works. Matt inspires me (he’s a color blind illustrator!) and I am touched by his up-front honesty (he’s jealous of other people’s work) and I believe that reading through his interview, you’ll be inspired plenty. Read on!

Name: Matthew Scott
Location: London, England
Illustration media: pencil, ink, found media/textures, digital

Tell us a little more about yourself!
I’m a colour blind illustrator who found a good friend in Photoshop’s easy to adjust colour palettes. I’m constantly drawing from the moment I crawl out of bed to the time I eventually fall asleep to the sounds of the shangri-la’s at my desk, which these days seems to be surrounded by more and more drawings of bears or scribbled notes telling me things I need to do or should avoid doing in the future.

Where do you live currently? What is the best thing about living in your place, and what is your daily schedule like?
As I am typing this, I am living in a shared house in London though in a few weeks I am moving out of the city to live in Cambridge for a while.
The best thing about my house is the people share it with. I am lucky enough to live with my girlfriend who is also an illustrator and a team of animators who all give great advice and also work long hours which keeps me motivated and on my toes at all times.
My daily schedule varies but more recently I have been trying to draw out ideas early in the morning, even if it’s not successful or something that I will end up throwing away, I find that if I loosen up in the morning then I won’t find myself struggling later on in the day and banging on my desk in frustration when it comes to final artwork or designing.

Since starting work on my first children’s book, days all seem to merge in to one big ball of mess though, weekends and evenings seem to have lost their place, as I find myself stuck to my desk working away whilst the world passes me by.

I usually need to be reminded to stop and eat and actually do something else, as I get so caught up in my work that I forget that life exists outside. I tend to think everyone has a specific time when they produce there best work. Mine is any time after 10pm, which is great because it’s usually a time I can work without distractions like phone calls, emails, Jehovah’s witnesses or diagnosis murder.

How did you get your start in illustration?
I’ve been drawing since I can remember, I think putting crayons and paper in front of me as a child was the only real way my parents could gain any control over me without the T.V being switched on.

I was very lucky after graduating from university last June I think,
I knew I had put in the hard work but I still had no idea how people other than my friends and tutors would react to my artwork.
I’m very grateful to Nia and Emma from the publisher Simon and Schuster who saw my work at my degree show exhibition in London and gave me the chance to do something that I have always dreamed of doing since I was a child, which was to illustrate children’s books.

Since leaving university I won a ‘Best New Blood’ award at the D&AD awards and first place in the Cheltenham Illustration Awards.
Both of these helped me, but not in the sense I thought they would as I honestly don’t think I gained any new clients or contacts from winning any of those. I think how it helped me was to give me the confidence in my work to go out and sell myself.

I was also very honoured to be asked recently by Chris Duffy to produce a cover for the comic book section of Nickelodeon magazine. I guess I have been pretty non stop since graduating which is great from a work point of view, but I also think it would be good for me once my first children’s book is completed to step back for a bit and really look at my work as a whole and how I would personally like it to progress as I rarely give myself the time to stop and think too much.

Could you tell us more about your thought process when you start a piece?
I don’t think it’s possible for me to explain properly as it’s a bit of a mad rush of thoughts, and I think this is my biggest problem when it comes to illustration.

For instance if someone asks me to draw a tree, I would run around like a mad dog for hours drawing out and sketching anything even slightly related to a tree, I can spend a good day or so drawing various leaves, branches, roots, grass, hills, and wildlife. anything I can think of really. I would end up surrounded by piles of sheets and then do my best to pick out my favourite pieces from the sketches and mould them together in one final draft. It’s a process which sees me drawing way more than I need to and usually ending up with pencil drawings that are far more lively than my final pieces. I’m currently trying to limit my initial designing to a few sheets so I don’t lose anything in my final artwork.

Do you keep a journal/sketchbook, and would you mind if we had a sneak peek?

I really got in to sketchbooks whilst at university and produced some of my most treasured belongings doing so. I tend to work on separate sheets more now as I prefer to be able to lay everything down together at once without having to flick through and find certain pieces. I still keep sketchbooks but they are mainly for notes and small sketches whilst I travel. I am determined to get back into working on the kind of sketchbooks I produced at university but as most of my work lately has all been for clients I prefer to work on large sheets.

What or who inspires you?
Music plays a large part for me, without it I find it hard to work so there is always something on in the background whilst I work. Of course other illustrators and animators are hugely influential to me, I try to find the time everyday to look at other artist sites and blogs, it can be hard going as I can get very down seeing so much amazing work but jealousy is what keeps me going, without that initial feeling of hopelessness I wouldn’t have a burst of determination to work even harder and keep going.
The only problem with viewing so much illustration is that I tend to get too easily influenced which can lead me to stray away from my own natural creative path.

I also have a tendency to visualise my best images in my head whilst I am away from my desk outside doing something else, and it always seems to happen at that one time I don’t have paper with me to jot it down.

What keeps you motivated?
Other artists keep me going. Seeing other people produce work which is to me, hundreds of times better than mine and producing twice the amount of work in half the time gets me very angry and jealous, but I love drawing so much that I am determined to try and be as good as the people I look up to, it’s only when take the time to look back at my older work that I realise I am constantly improving and that all of time I put into this is paying off.
Also getting a REAL job is not an option for me, I tried it many times before when I was younger and I do not want to repeat those days, the fear of that is my greatest motivator. ‘Never again’ I used to swear after every shift, now that’s it’s come true I just pray I can keep it up…

What’s your favourite tool?
My personal favourite is by far my mechanical pencil, I tend to use it for almost everything I do. I can never get the same kind of fluid lively lines when I ink, it always saddens me when I look back at my original pencil sketch and think that it looked lot better before inking. If anyone ever invents a tool which transforms pencil lines into ink I don’t think I would ever look back.

Are you a full-time artist?
Thank the heavens yes…
There isn’t a moment of my day when I’m not working or thinking about my art, I find it very very hard to switch off.

What advice would you like to give people who are interested in being an artist full-time?
Never give up.
Don’t get too down when you see other artists that you think are better than you because there will always be someone who thinks that your work is better than theirs. It’s like a long ladder which sadly you have to climb in order without jumping places.
Don’t be put off or change your way of working if others disagree with it, if it’s right for you then keep going, do what you want to do not what you think will sell well or others will like. If you are happy it shows in your work, stay focused and you will eventually win the fight.

Where do you see yourself within the next few years?
Hopefully exactly where I am now, still drawing and enjoying every image I create.

What message do you want to send out to people about your work?
I don’t want people to read to much into my artwork, that’s something that has always really annoyed me about art in general, I don’t see why everything has to have deep hidden meanings or personal messages. I’d much rather people just look at my images and find something they like.

I guess I just create work with the intentions of creating something visually interesting or aesthetically nice to look at. People might find hidden messages in my work but I promise that it was never done intentionally, I wasn’t trying to ‘say’ anything.I’d hate to think of my work in that manner, as I’d rather people look at it than talk about it.

{Thanks Matt!}

For anyone who’s interested in Matt’s work, they’re also available as prints over on his Divine Paper House Etsy shop!

Read our interviews with other artists over here