Matt Buck is a freelance illustrator and fine artist hailing from Long Island.
In 1993, he was highly influenced by Tim Burton’s classic film, The Nightmare Before Christmas and he began drawing many of the characters, as well as creating a handful of his own. He has not stopped drawing since that day.
He graduated in 2011 from the Ringling College of Art & Design with a BFA in Illustration. After two years of working as a full-time commercial storyboard artist, he gave up the comfort of a steady paycheck to further his career as a fine artist/illustrator.
Matt has found great joy in illustrating book covers and interiors, including such notable titles as:
Chuck Palahniuk’s forthcoming novel, Doomed - (check out his wonderful treatment of art and lettering),
Brian McGreevy’s Hemlock Grove (now a critically acclaimed Netflix original series),
and Jay-Z’s best-selling memoir, Decoded (many sweet portraits included here).
Matt currently has a sumptuously surreal solo show on exhibit at Last Rites Gallery in New York (thru Aug. 10th, 2013) .
Each painting in (A)PART started off as a little thumbnail sketch in a notebook. Then a more detailed drawing was made in Photoshop. After that a more refined value/color study was painted in Photoshop. FInally the actual painting process began with the computer screen to the side as a reference guide.
“The major theme of (A)PART is severance. Things that were once part of a whole are now disassembled, like an organic jigsaw puzzle, so that the viewer may reflect on the nature of the individual components.”
My favorite art memory from my childhood is …
I fondly remember accompanying my mom to her editing job at Silvercup Studios where I would sit at a table next to the monolithic servers and editing equipment with a some Ren & Stimpy comics, a few sheets of paper, some pencils, and some crayons. This is my first distinct memory of drawing from reference, something that I can fully appreciate today. I would copy the facial expressions of the characters in the comics to the best of my ability, without tracing, and felt a wave of joy wash over me when my scribbles were recognizable to my mom as their intended subjects.
My interest in art and painting started …
Oh man, pretty much in the womb, haha. There were great artists on both sides of my family, so in a way I guess my interest was genetically and environmentally pretty much guaranteed. My maternal grandfather was an incredible painter who worked as a cartographer for the New York Times. We found some old charcoal portraits of his that look very similar to mine, which is eerie because he passed away when I was 5 so I barely remember him or anything he taught me.
What do you find is the difference between illustration and your fine art?
The main difference is the client. With illustration the client dictates the project and usually the subject matter. WIth fine art (for galleries at least) there is an illusion of complete artistic freedom, but the gallery is essentially the client. If you make work that none of their patrons will buy, then you’re essentially out of a “job”. But there is certainly a much greater degree of artistic freedom there, which is actually quite terrifying. I’m a person who prefers to have at least some direction in order to get started on a piece.
How do you feel about the arrogance the fine art world sometimes shows to illustrators and their work?
The dismissal of illustrators and their work by the fine art world is pretty ridiculous. The Catholic church was the largest patron of art in history. They primarily commissioned depictions of text from book, i.e., illustration. A huge majority of Western art is illustration and the callous dismissal of contemporary illustrators in the wake of the modern art invasion of the fine art world is a disgrace.
I am often inspired and motivated by …
My peers from art college. When I see them kicking ass and taking names, it lights a fire under my ass to work that much harder.
If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be …
N.C. Wyeth. His paintings are amongst my very favorites, but he also seemed like such a cool dude.
And we would …
Spend a day helping him get reference for his Treasure Island or Black Arrow paintings by dressing up in period costumes and sword fighting. Essentially I would like to LARP (live action role-play, just about the geekiest thing you can do) with him.
The tip or art technique (a specific tidbit of craft, product, advice or mechanical expertise) that has helped me the most is ….
Shadow patterns and how vital they are. My dearly departed mentor, Attila Hejja, once gave this demonstration where he drew the shadow patterns of something and had us try to guess what is was. Nobody could guess until he started coloring in the patterns and all of a sudden this incredibly realistic face was there! That one made my jaw drop and changed the way that I saw and drew forever.
If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …
My current favorite piece of my own art is …
My caricature of H.P. Lovecraft. (above)
Not only is he my favorite author, but this piece won me my first major award at the Society of Illustrators student scholarship show in 2009. Another reason is that I’ve seen it tattooed on people I don’t know by people I’ve never met, so that must speak for something, haha.
My ultimate project or fantasy is …
I would love to sculpt a series of gargantuan public monuments for my favorite authors and artists who currently have way less recognition than they should.
What are you currently working on?
A series of large-scale sports related imagery in graphite, for my long-standing art director and good friend, Rodrigo Corral.
The last song I choose to listen to was …
A World to Win, by Gorgoroth.
The last book I couldn’t put down was …
Donnybrook, by Frank Bill. Super gritty novel about a bare-knuckle tournament in the sticks of southern Indiana and all the crazy meth-heads causing chaos on their way to it.
One of my favorite words is …
One of my favorite smells is …
Freshly baked bread.
I can’t live without …
Craft beer. Life is too short to drink shitty beer.
It’s not hip, but I really love ….
Magic: The Gathering. This trading card game was pretty much my entire social life throughout middle school and much of high school. My most recent tattoo is a hand-poked mandala featuring the five mana symbols from the game. God, I’m such a nerd.
My favorite motto (or quote) is …
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
I’ve always had this feeling that I’d end up settling down in a Scandinavian country. I’ve yet to travel outside of the U.S.A., but recently I’ve been looking at Iceland. I’m just fascinated by the Norse mythology and culture, abhor the heat, and love snow.
If you could be a fictional character from a book – who would it be and why?
Conan the Barbarian, for sure. He epitomizes savage manliness and a ‘Do what thou wilt’ way of life that I find tremendously appealing. I, too, hope to one day tread the jeweled thrones of the earth under my sandaled feet.
Any last words? (something you would like to address, rant on?)
If you live in NYC, don’t walk against the flow of foot-traffic, glued to a mobile device screen, when on the sidewalk. I will not alter my course because of your incompetence and you will most likely end up with a bruised shoulder. Also, don’t walk at a snail’s pace. Those things really grind my gears.
LINK: To Matt’s Website
Please “Like” and follow Eclectix, here on FaceBook.