Renowned by culture vultures and corporate clients alike for his distinctive, eye-catching illustrations and designs, Matthew Curry is a Grammy-nominated American graphic artist who made his start drawing cartoons and comics in his youth.
Honing his skill set over the years and thankful the help of talented and caring friends along the way, Matthew and his impressive, ever-growing portfolio of work has made appearances in exhibits, galleries as well as on posters, CDs and limited edition products around the world. Commercially, he has amassed an eye-popping client list, including the likes of Thievery Corporation, Dodge, Conde Nast and Budweiser.
Matthew talks to us about life as an artist, his creative process, receiving a Grammy nomination his work and upcoming projects.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Matt.
I’m a freelance graphic artist with a small studio in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C.. I’ve been working professionally as a designer, illustrator and artist for about 18 years, and I do this with the support of my wife Eugenia, and our son, Alexander.
How did you get your start in the world of art?
I was always interested in drawing. I was big into cartooning and drawing comics which led me to study illustration at art school. By the time I left art school I was pursuing a career in a more graphic and design capacity so over the years I worked with assorted agencies and collaborators on just about every kind of job you could think of working on in the design world. I am very fortunate to be friends with some very talented people who have helped me out in my career and shared my work with others. I will be forever grateful.
How would you describe your style?
Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at pulling off assorted illustration “styles” for my commercial art needs – my own personal style, is a combination of loose gestural drawing, hard edge and graphic lines, mixed with highly physical applications of paint and collage materials. It’s very chaotic in parts but I hope it comes off in a deliberate sense, because I do my best to account for every drip, splat and mark.
What’s the most interesting thing somebody has said about your work?
A close colleague said of some recent work: “this looks like it was made by an organic computer”, probably referring to the obsessive layering found in much of my work.
Describe your creative process.
On average, I arrive at studio every morning by 9am, have my coffee, and review the work I have going on the walls. I’ll usually catch up with my studio mate for a bit and then get started on whatever deadlines are at priority for that day. By 4pm I’ll usually be done with any deadlines I have had for the day and start working on personal work on the messier side of the studio.
So, I keep it fairly 9-5 at the studio. I’m always jotting down notes and ideas, doodling, researching etc. I’m becoming more deliberate in my pace as I get older. When I was in my twenties I was more focused on learning materials and experimenting and so, my subject matter was all over the place, a constant sketchbook type of thing.
Now, I take my time, and am more interested in creating specific narratives, so there is more design and art direction involved.
What’s a particularly memorable commission you’ve done?
Definitely the album packaging for Thievery Corporation’s Versions. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime jobs where my close friend, Neal Ashby (Thievery’s Art Director) and I developed an insanely detailed visual language of black and white artwork that filled a 32 page booklet – with no words. We got some pretty good recognition for that one, and we received a Grammy Nomination for our album packaging design. It was a memorable project and without a doubt my finest commercial work.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just moved into a new studio space, so I have been busy getting organized for client visits and studio tours. I’m also getting some inventory ready to make available online in a new shop so I’ve been working on some prints, small paintings and drawings. On the design side, I’m about to start a large scale branding job and always doing things here and there for my clients.
What’s on for Mr. Curry in the months ahead?
I’ll have two snowboard graphics coming out this season on MONUMENT Snowboards, and I’m working on a large triptych painting commission for a client’s flat in London.
Follow Matthew’s incredible portfolio of work on Instagram and his website.