Creating artwork around the clock is not uncommon for artist Matthew Dutton. His pursuit of higher levels of artistic enlightenment drive his imagination into realms not commonly traveled by traditional artists. Pandering to surreal visions of mythical creatures is common place in Duttons' work. Rubbernecking at the tension created between attraction and repulsion, Dutton uses his work to consolidate the paradox of the opposing forces by employing characteristics he has coined as 'whimsical horror.' Some of the more notable works Matthew creates are called Phigments; animal-human hybrid creatures that are often seen lurking in assembled vignettes of domestic, dated house wares.
Hello dear Matthew, please, tell us a little about you - how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?
I have been creating in one way or another for as long as I can remember. I still recall building my own toys out of scrap construction materials when I was little and taking things apart to see what was inside. Curiosity of material manipulation has always driven me and still does to this day.
What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
In college, I did a fair amount of research into ancient art history, focusing on how some cultures dipicted combining animal and human forms like you see in the Assyrian Lamassu or other Chimeras as a way of discovering what it means to be human or animal. Fast forward to the present I am influenced also by artists like Patricia Picinini and Kate Clarke to name a few.
A product of the 80's, I engaged in heavy doses of films like The Labrynth and Dark Crystal along with tons of horror and sci-fi stuff. I absorbed as much hand built cheesy prop influence as physically possible.
The drive to always make something new and different inspires me to keep pushing on. I love to experiment with medium, pushing the limits of my materials into non conventional directions, grasping for new discovery.
How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
I get shaken awake by my wonderful 20 month old son at 7 am sharp everyday. Shortly after I head to the day job on top of a mountain to build a variety of art for them for 8-9 hours, then hang with the family until all is quiet. Usually from 11pm until around 2am I dissapear into my studio to hack away at mysterious beings. I typically make some kind of art every single day and have keep it up like this for the better part of 10 years +.
What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
I have an expensive associates and bachelors degree, a BFA in sculpture. Most of what I do and make has come from experimenting on my own time but I have to say that I did develop my current work for my senior thesis at the university. Professor Bethune was an odder cat that even I was so that rubbed off on me some for sure. I learned some about how to put together a portfolio and how to photograph my work, although I suck at that part. Academia can not teach you everything though. I really have been casting lures out to many ponds to see whats biting. I have found some calm waters and have been getting some nibbles over in the Pop Surreal stream as of late. Ive been kind of making it up as I go and keeping my fingers crossed.
What fascinates you the most about pop surrealism? How would you describe your pop surreal style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
I enjoy the freedom that comes from surrealism. Certainly rules can apply if you want them to, but it is not a requirement to make it work. Creating something in our physical world that is birthed from someplace else is kind of liberating. I say if your the only one doing it, then you are the best at it! haha.
Something that I hope my work evokes is a sense of simulateously attracting and repulsing my viewers. I want to stir unease inside my viewers but just enough to spark their curiosity. I often use found objects or antiques to accompany my works. Typically objects that are reconizable and familiar. The objects bring some comfort and grounding to the bizarre and surreal. I enjoy the juxtaposition. I try to stay playful and not take myself too seriously for usually you are only able to convince yourself that youve succeeded.
What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
Being creative keeps me out of trouble. I feel like creativity is like muscle memory in that you can stregthen its ability the more you work it. Artists with big creative muscles are usually good at problem solving and finding solutions that might take normal puny humans years to stumble upon by chance. haha. Creativity is like a superpower and should be coveted and lusted after. All of the best things in life are made better with a hot injection of some creative juices.
Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?
I work on lots of pieces at once, spread out around the studio in piles of potential materials. All day and even in my dreams I am thinking about my next move on the pieces that haunt me from the studio. It is important for me to dwell on the works mentally often for my time with each piece physically is very limited due to real world stuff. When I am face to face with my work in progress, it is like strategic rapid fire, my hands already know what to do with the materials for I have imagined already doing the construction part in my head many times over and over. I have the kind of imgination that I can nearly build a piece of artwork 10 different ways in my head before I actually start. I dont really write anything down and rarely make sketches.. I just do it and tweek as I go along.
I have really been into urethane resin and silicone. Ive come up with several self taught tricks to really push the materials to do some wacky things. I like to figure out what the material is suppose to do and what it is not suppose to do and hover somewhere between.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I do a lot of casting and mold making but mostly with resins and silicones but I would love to eventually work with casting metals so that I can venture into more outdoor works.
Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?
I have a lot of musical instruments in my home studio and my son and I play little songs together every now and then. My mountain studio is full of mid century german gnomes and fairtytale figures and another studio is on a farm and is full of hand made halloween props and costumes. All kinds of stange things and ghosts and stuff float through on a regular basis...
What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
A small challenge for me is wanting to get into those big epic shows or galleries with a quickness and realizing that it takes time to get there. I feel that I will continue to grow and am working on my patience and being satisfied with how far I have come. It is good to push and be ambitious but also good to not take for granted what you have and to be happy to be able to self sustain as an artist. Also to take some chances and dont get discouraged about rejection. It all happens the way it should. If you dont ask or try then the answer is always no.
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I am still discovering the 'art world' and from what I´ve tasted of it, its not that bad thus far, then again I am an optmist. I am not the 'click' type and do not really enjoy making things harder for other artists just because. I think that is counterproductive and is a waste of the small amount of enegy we have to use. I do not feel lonely for my art is my friend and it always wants to hang out when every I want.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?
I hope to keep growing my creative muscles and getting better at making medium submit to my desires. I really hope to continue to stumble around in the dark long enough to discover more incredible happenings that I can put towards making forms and beings.
Getting into bigger and better shows and galleries would be awesome so that I can put my work infront of more people. My goal is to always be happy making art and to not take creating for granted.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
Dont restrict yourself to the constraints of a particular medium, genre, or thought process. The best things come out of exploration and experimentation.
Dont be afraid to fail way more than you suceed. 100 failures will make the 1 win oh so sweet. Do your own thing and the world will change for you.
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
Being a dad, playing music, running, looking for ways to connect all of the dots.
Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?
I have several semi started places to see eventually updated works here:
Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
Here are some current and upcoming shows im exhibiting in that you should check out:
"Night Vision": Campfire Gallery, San Francisco, CA
"The Coaster Show": La Luz De Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles,CA
"A Little Darkness": The Night Gallery, Santa Ana, CA
"In Missa interfectionis", Stephen Romano Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
"The Halloween Show": Auguste Clown Gallery, Victoria, Australia
"Horrible Imagining": Clutter Gallery, Beacon, NY
"Conjoined V", Copro Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Thank you dear Matthew, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new visions and works :)