It’s that time again. I promised interviews over the weekend but unforseen circumstances (damn computers - anyone fancy giving me a MacBook Pro?) threw that plan out the window. So here’s the first of (hopefully) a few FatKidOnFire interviews this week. Continuing the artistic theme laid down with Scott Move's interview, this next interviewee has some unbelievable talent!
Having produced artwork for hip-hop heavyweights Souls of Mischief, painted a fibreglass cow and other varied (but always unbelievable) outlets for his talent, this artist needs to be seen to be believed…
"Souls of Mischief"
Find out more after the jump
Mat McIvor is an artist who is rather difficult to label. Combining musical, street art and Cornish influences Mat produces instantly recognisable and powerful art on many different mediums. I first heard of Mat when he was setting up for painting a dragon on the side of a house (as you do! Peep it later on) and have been following him with interest ever since. I sat down with Mat to find out more about him and his art…
Who is Mat McIvor? I’m an artist living and working in Penzance in Cornwall. I’ve been down here now for the last 9 years, but I’m originally from Birmingham. I’m 37 years old, but I’m still a big kid at heart!
Your art is strong and striking – how would you describe your style? I’m not sure how to describe my style really. It’s kind of developing all the time, which is partly due to the different ways I produce work. Over the last few years I’ve been working on canvas, paper; producing digital work; running workshops with young people; painting murals; screen printing and I’ve even painted on a life size fibreglass cow [shown below]! I’ve had to adapt the way I work to the different mediums I’ve been working with, and the different surfaces I’ve been working on. I suppose you could say that I’ve got a versatile style! I’m not a big fan of putting labels on things.
Someone said to me a few years ago, that my paintings could be a product of the fact that I’m blind in one eye! I was born with infantile glaucoma and had to have operations on my eyes when I was about 7 months old. They managed to save the sight in my left eye, but I’ve had very little vision in my right eye since then. They reckoned that I used colour as perspective in order to compensate for my lack of three dimensional vision!
What does/ will make your art stand out and distinguish itself from the rest of the UK art scene? It’s quite hard to stand out from the crowd in this day and age, there’s so much visual information about - especially on the internet! There aren’t many people in Cornwall painting like me at the moment, there’s a lot of very traditional abstract and landscape painting. Cornwall has the largest population of artists in the country outside of London, so it’s hard to be seen when you take that statistic into consideration. It’s pretty hard to get yourself noticed down here, let alone in the UK or internationally. I’m not really involved in the art scene as such down here, there are a lot of galleries but it’s hard to find one to represent you. I’ve been trying to make my own way by creating work for myself and doing things that some artists down here wouldn’t necessarily consider.
The fact that I’m working as an artist in a beautiful part of the country is amazing. I’m very lucky to be doing what I do in such an awesome place. I’ve had to adapt to certain constraints of living so far away from the cultural and visual melting pots of cities, but for me the pros far outweigh the cons! If I can manage to stand out and become distinguished as an artist of any worth, then that would be an added bonus to the one of producing art in such a great location.
Who/ what influences you in your work? The main influence on my work over the last few years has been the Cornish landscape. Most of my recent work has featured, been inspired by, and even been produced within the Cornish landscape. When I first moved here, my paintings were landscape paintings but influenced by my urban roots in Birmingham. I’m just about to start on a new series of landscape paintings, which will hopefully see my style develop a bit more.
Music has influenced my work a great deal too. In any place that I have lived and produced artwork; the music scene(s) in each place have played a great part in who I am as an artist today. When I was growing up in Birmingham, I was lucky enough to see some amazing bands play. I was really into my metal and rock, and I got to see bands play like Napalm Death, Nirvana, Fugazi, Godflesh, Faith No More, Janes Addiction, Sonic Youth, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails and Mudhoney to name but a few! It was an awesome time; we virtually got to see an amazing live band once a week! Then I was at art college in Stourbridge around the time it was producing bands like Pop Will Eat Itself, Neds Atomic Dustbin and The Wonder Stuff. At University in Derby we got into a massive DIY free party scene, sound the time around the Criminal Justice Bill came about. I’m constantly listening to music in the studio, and sometimes different music has different effects on what I’m producing. I don’t think I could produce work without music to be honest!
A lot of artists have influenced me over the years, Keith Harring, Jean Michel-Basquiat, Henry Matisse, Mark Rothko, Raymond Pettibon, Peter Doig (he actually taught me at art college in Stourbridge!), Diego Rivera, Michael Craig Martin and Philip Guston. I did a Fine Art Degree at college, so I was very interested in a lot of painters. Diego Rivera was a big influence, as he was one artist that got me looking into street art and its origins. This developed into my love affair with graffiti and public art in general. It’s only recently that I’ve started to become influenced by more graphic and illustrative work. One place that I’ve found very important in looking at new work and keeping up with what my contemporaries are doing is Twitter. It’s opened me up to loads of new artists and designers, and even opened up some exciting avenues for me too!
What’s your take on the whole UK art scene at the moment? I don’t really keep up with what’s going on in the within the ‘high end’ of art - I’m more into more contemporary street art, illustration and crossover work. There’s some amazing work out there and the UK is producing a very healthy roster of artists. I try and concentrate on what I’m doing more than what’s going on as a whole in the country. Maybe that’s because I’m getting older, and can’t be arsed to keep up with everything and everyone in the world of art! There’s just not enough time in the day!
Where do you see yourself being in 5 years time? I’d like to be still doing what I’m doing now, but on a larger scale and with a bit more money in my pocket! I’ve just moved into the new studio, and I’m looking to produce some new paintings that I can produce as limited edition screen prints and limited edition t-shirts too! I’ve got some screen printing equipment that I used to print t-shirts for my own clothing label with my mate Dion Star and I’m looking to put it to more good use. I’ve just applied for a job for a massive Public Art Project in Newquay too, so anything could happen in the next 5 years! Is world domination too much to ask for?
Where can people expect to catch your work, any stockists to watch? I haven’t got any stockists at the moment, but if all goes to plan there might be some in the near future! Until then, you can catch up with stuff on my blog, Twitter or Society6 profile.
"Newquay Towan Beach"
Top 5 favourite albums? Ah what, now you’re asking! This could take me a bloody long time, I can never answer questions like this! You’ll have to have 10 instead! I could go on forever!
Shoutouts My girlfriend Melissa, my son Jack and Mom and Dad for putting up with me all these years.
Keeping it simple, if I did a massive list people would get pissed off for missing them out!
Mat’s art never ceases to make me smile. There’s something inherently positive about it - so much so that I’m in the process of copping a piece for my wall! Luckily for you guys Mat is also running a 50% sale on some of his prints, head over to his Facebook page to grab yourself some seriously sweet art and support one of the UK’s finest artists whilst you’re at it. It’s a win win situation! Keep your eye on Mat’s blog and Twitter to follow all his latest projects and support him at every available opportunity - he deserves it.
Oh and that “House of Flying Dragons” project? Amazing