Matthew Sketch

Artist Interview
January 29, 2021
Matthew Sketch

Your work varies widely in content - can you talk about your different series and how they formed? Each series could, in a sense, appear to be made by a different artist - discuss your alternating style and approach.

I think what you are seeing is growth as an artist. I change styles, but certain nuances remain throughout that help identify my paintings. One example of that would be the red bottoms on all of my paintings. I often use Picasso as an example. He went through many styles of painting throughout his life. Many of the paintings that the public are familiar with all come from a certain period in his career, a small window of it indeed. Where he decided to paint faces with eyes on top of one another, rather than next to each other. 


Can you talk about the work you are making in the gallery and how the location has (or has not) influenced the work? How does the setting of SLC affect your artistic practice?

It was a joy to have a change of scenery from my studio. The vibe is light and the mood is positive. I believe I painted a lot of heavy pieces this year and wanted to end with something a little lighter. The ambiance of the studio invited that. Sunsets couldn’t have been a more fitting subject as we come the end of this tumultuous year.


Can you discuss your process in making the False Arabesque series? The lacquer on top is a notable and obvious departure from other paintings. Can you talk about this decision? 

I believe the aesthetic of the series demanded the presentation it got. I needed to give this series more depth, separate the viewer from the content a bit, but still present it in a welcoming fashion. The resin gives the paintings a presence, almost an air of luxury. 


What are some of the non-visual mediums that interest and influence you?

I tend to pay a lot of attention to the way my studio smells. Once of the first things I do when I get into the studio is water my plants and light a candle. 


What role does the artist have in society?

I read in a book that it is an artists job to share. Once we create, we are to share it. Whether it be of our liking, or not, we are not the arbiter of what is “good” or “bad” art, we are here as artists, just to share. My wife once asked me what it felt like after an exhibit opening and I answered that it felt like I took all the pages from my journal for the last few months and stuck them on a wall for people to read. It’s a vulnerable existence.


What do you listen to when you're making art?

Lofi hip hop and jazz. That can change depending on my mood. There are days where I want music with little to no words and there are days where I want the energy of the lyrics to drive the energy in the studio.


Who are your biggest influences? 

Im affected by my environment completely. I have borrowed color pallettes from everything from fashion lines to pictures of sensets from different regions. One artist I credit a lot for inspiring me to move away from painting only on canvas was Nikola Hicks. I saw a piece of theirs in Jackson Hole and have been painting on craft paper ever since. 


What defines success?

The person seeking it. Success means drastically different things, depending on who you ask. I seek to be a great husband and a good artist. If I can achieve this, I will feel successful.  


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

My mom always told me to never let a talent become a gimmick. Which I always took as you need to protect your craft and follow your vision, being conscious not to devalue your work by your actions. 


 Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

This year was both humbling and inspirational. I know we are in the midst of a global pandemic, but I see a lot of growth happening around me. The world has called upon us to do some work as humans. I’ve seen people who are really showing up and answering the call. I’ve seen active rejection of ignorance, hatred, and bigotry spurred by the unjust societal issues we have been dealing with for a long time. In all honesty, I was very proud of us as a nation that we did not accept that administration and were actively trying to burn it down. That gave me a lot of hope and re established some of my pride of America. 2020 kind of sat me down. I was faced with a loss of most of my income and drastic change on almost all plans I had for the near future. One thing I did not stop doing was creating.


Watch the full video interview, here.

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