Artist Proof Interview with Artist: Matt M. Cipov
Global Location: US
Matt lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife Lynda and his son Max. Since late 2005 he has been a self-employed artist and designer, and is extremely glad he decided to take the plunge into working on his own. He credits his new life with helping him grow considerably as an artist. Cipov adores watching documentaries, has never broken a bone, loves pizza and Asian foods, is addicted to synthesizers and Apple products, and his music/movie collection is an ever growing beast. Cipov revels in keeping toys and whimsical things around him. He feels so deeply connected to making art that he cannot be away from it for more than a day.
AP: How long have you been making art for and what lead you to start?
MC: When I was a youngster, I used as much time as I could to draw and sketch and doodle. I filled notebooks and sketchbooks and scraps of paper all the time. I guess you could say I’ve been making art for about 30 years. And I have kept as much of my childhood art as I could find. You’ve got to hold into your roots.
AP: Where do you currently live and work ? And how does this influence your work?
MC: I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the United States. The only thing I think being in the Milwaukee area, or the Midwest has done is that it has made me love our art scene rather than feel like I am lost in the fray of too many artists. Don’t get me wrong, we have a ton of good artists, but we aren’t overly choked with them like some other parts of the country are.
AP: Did you have formal training if so what? If your self taught can you tell us what you prefer about being a self taught artist vs having formal training?
MC: All of my techniques and passion for art were self taught. In school, teachers helped me refine things, critique things and then learn the business, or commerce side of art. When I was in middle school and high school, I took as many art classes as I could wrap my brain around. And then in the mid 1990s, I attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design where I got a Bachelors degree in Illustration. I’ve always wanted to be a professional artist. Slowly, but surely I worked my way through the corporate art system until I ended up self employed and quite happy. Art school gave me the chops to want to be a professional. Growing up being a bit of a loner nerd who loved drawing is what made me want to be an artist.
AP: Can you tell us about where you make your work is it in your house, a studio etc.. and how it effects your work?
MC: Being in the Midwest, and currently being in a fairly harsh winter, my place of work often comes down to what part of my home I can keep the warmest and still work in. Lately that has been my bedroom, but when weather isn’t a factor, I work in my basement office. And no matter where I work in the winter, I find myself much more slow and my lines are more clumsy. In the spring, summer, or Fall I could be forced to work on top of a flag pole and I don’t think it would affect my art too much.
AP: What are some of you favorite design projects/exhibitions you have worked on to date?
MC: One of the coolest art shows I’ve even had was in San Francisco at the famous boutique RARE DEVICE. I flew out for it and hug the show, which was a very fun, very complicated process. Then in the beginning of 2010, I challenged myself to have 2 art show opening in the same month, one in America and one in Europe. I flew out to both, hung the shows and attended the openings. It was intense and very, very awesome.
But the thing I holds most special are the time I was flown out to be a special guest at an Etsy relaunch, and the months I’ve spent on the road with my son and wife on art show related road trips. Those things showed me the magic that being self employed has brought into my life.
AP: What is your medium of choice ?
MC: Ink. My tools of choice are the Pilot BPS fine ballpoint pen, various markers and a ton of different paint pens.
AP: What is the relationship between technique and content in your work?
MC: I’ve always been into drawing animals, goons, monsters, zombies and odd stuff, but my techniques used to be more painterly. I used to be more into a combination of ink and watercolor, or acrylic paint, but I think something about the immediacy and finality of ink really took over. The fact that you can work on something quickly and just as quickly ruin something with a poorly placed line, or smudge is something I love about ballpoint, markers and paint pens. Ink is very truthful, it doesn’t allow you to lie much, or ‘undo’ what you lay down and because of that, each time I draw, it is an adventure.
AP: In what direction would you like to see your work going over the next five years?
MC: Even though the mediums I like making art in traditionally are best for small format art, I’d like to challenge myself to work in larger formats. Aside from that, I am always interested in finding new surfaces to work on, or have my art appear on. I want to see myself working more with clothing labels and musicians on collaborations. I need to team up with more people. I used to trade art with people and work on things together long distance, but I haven’t done much of that in years.
And someday it would be great to put out a book of my art. I’ve been testing that by getting pieces in various published things lately, but I think it would be cool to collect my art into a themed book.
Also, will I love having my art in gallery shows, I see myself doing less and less of that as the years go by.
AP: What forth coming projects and or exhibitions do you have scheduled for 2011?
MC: This is an awesome year! I’ve been hard at work on preliminary art for a huge project with the new Children’s Hospital in Chicago, IL. I am in the early stages of working on some interesting fashion design and wearable versions of my masks with a super cool company. We hope to have a bunch of stuff out by Halloween this year. And I am putting out a ton of new t-shirts with various American and European labels. It is a good year for shirts! And I am working on making surfboard art for an awesome company. Never thought I’d do something like that!
Also, I’ll be traveling around a bit to so some indie art/craft shows and I have a few drawings in some really cool art shows this year. Some art teaching might be coming up too. And I expect to be debuting a lot of stuff at my online stores and boutiques that carry what I do.
Got to stay busy!!!
AP: Take us on a guided tour through a day in your life as an artist.
MC: Getting into making art everyday can be a bit of a slow process. I usually start the day by getting back to emails and messages I need to for projects I am working on. Then if I need to, I go on a supply run , or a trip to the printers. I find having an online store really makes me go through supplies quickly and I also have to keep a constant inventory on my available prints. I get really mad at myself when I forget to keep up and allow myself to run out of something. Since I work from home, I feel like I have to run my home office as well as possible and keep my ‘supply rooms’ well stocked.
After I feel like I’ve gotten myself up to speed with the behind-the-scenes side of things, I spend the late morning until the evening working on, or researching the art I am working on… and I often juggle several projects at once because I love making art and keeping very, very busy.
On the days I need to mail art orders out to people, I tend to save that for late at night. I live by a 24 hour post office and I enjoy working on packages before I got to sleep, plus the post office is usually quite peaceful at night, which allows me to slip in and slip out.
All the rest of my time is spent being a husband and a dad, with a little bit of time for sleeping and eating.
AP: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.