SpearTalks: MWM Graphics

Posted on February 1, 2008 Under Design

Matt W. Moore knows the remedy to day job doldrums. An ex-agency man turned big-time web designer, Matt has never renounced his personal creative pursuits for his job "“ a sacrifice that today's creative types find themselves depressingly prone to.

From his early days in advertising to his current responsibilities (keeping the Burton website sparkly fresh), Matt has been filling his downtime with personal side projects that feed his soul as much as his bank account. His versatile career experiences — as gallery artist, pre-press designer, editorial illustrator, art director, and curator, to name a few — have given him the experience he needs for side projects like Wallspankers, a sticky extension of Matt's graffiti past, and the B/W Bangers, Matt's very own saving grace.

So what is the remedy? It's one part introspection; one part creativity; one part confidence "“- and a little dose of self"“publishing.

Joshspear.com: For a period you lived the increasingly common double life of an ad man by day/artist by night. What finally inspired you to start MWM Graphics?

Matt W. Moore: I actually started MWM Graphics while I was in college. I would side hustle logos, concert posters, editorial illustrations, anything that I thought would be exciting and help me grow as a designer. I caught an awesome break during my last year of school and started to work at an agency in Portland, Maine called The VIA Group. I later moved into an Art Director position there and worked on some fun accounts, all the while doing personal work and freelance in my free time. Now I work as a web designer at Burton Snowboards, and stay busy with all sorts of personal projects. The "double life" has been my style all along. I hope to one day break away and devote all of my time and energy towards my studio and making art.

JS: Advertising and design have always required a ton of doodling and daydreaming. Are your books a result of this constant creativity, or do you think they would have come along of their own accord?

MWM: Good question. Well, I've been self-publishing "˜zines of my sketchbooks since I was a kid. Me and my homies used to trade them and mail them out for trades with other zinesters. Before I learned of the Internet. Before I payed attention to the art world. Way before a swivel chair job. The daily ritual of doodling and illustration has been with me my whole life. In recent years I have been taking my illustrations more seriously, focusing on themes and narratives, with the intentions of releasing a new installment every year of my book series, B&W Bangers. I don't think my experiences in the industry have directly inspired me to push the series. I think the reality of working in a creative position has left me feeling like I can do more, and grow further through my own explorations and projects. It is refreshing to come home and work on my own projects without any guidelines, deadlines, or edits. It's just art for me, and I enjoy sharing what I think others will appreciate.

JS: What's the concept behind the B&W Bangers?

MWM: Quite simply, B&W Bangers started as a series of quick illustrations on index cards that I later turned into stickers and books. It was a great way to get ideas out of my head and onto paper. Every day for a few months each winter I revert back to black and white ink. The series is a way for me to do personal work away from the computer, and create a loose narrative that explores my new ideas and visual vocabulary. I plan to continue the series with a new installment every winter, each time with a new twist and limited tools. Bangers One was 100% Sharpie pens on index cards. Bangers Two was on larger paper, more intricate and refined. Bangers Three was wet and wild using everything I could find, from pencils and ink to watercolor paint. I'm currently working on Volume Four, and it picks up where Book Three left off. Lots of sloppy ink washes and intricate illustrations.

JS: You've worked on other books, too "“ can you tell us about them?

MWM: I'm currently putting together a book to be published by ROJO this summer of my art and design career thus far. I am very excited, it is definitely an honor and a milestone in my career. I've had a ton of fun sifting through my archives of personal work. It will be a 240 page hardcover book, internationally distributed. I also did a children's book about the history of hip-hop. That was a lot of fun too. I illustrated 22 pages that depicted the rise of the culture, and I also wrote the simple, kid friendly narrative.

JS: Wallspankers, your graffiti community/sticker enterprise, includes the work of a lot of our favorite artsy types (like 57even and Zeptonn). Can you tell us about the concept behind that project?

MWM: Wallspankers was started as an online platform for international artists and designers with a quarterly magazine of black and white sticker designs. I launched it in April 2006 by reaching out to my immediate community and requesting black and white work for the sticker-zine. I wanted it to be more than a collective of amazing artists – I wanted to make something that people could be a part of and participate. Anyone can contribute their sticker designs, and anyone can print the zine on sticker paper and get busy. It has been an honor to get to know all of the artists involved.

JS: Collaboration and sharing are hugely beneficial in the design community "“ what sort of creative partnerships would you like to see more of?

MWM: I am very fortunate to have a solid network of artists, illustrators, graffiti writers, and designers. Being a member of The KDU has really helped me get to know, and collaborate with, some of the most talented international designers. We share ideas, advice, projects, and are constantly interacting with each other. Some of my favorite projects are when a group of us will pass files back and forth, each adding our own bits and style to a piece. The final artworks become the sum of all of our techniques and ideas. True collaborations.

JS: How necessary do you feel is it for designers to have personal, non-work related creative outlets?

MWM: For me it is crucial. This is my life. I want to continue to grow as long as I am here. I would never have gotten to where I am without my personal projects and explorations. I always encourage folks that work in creative roles to do personal work. It helps keep me balanced and pushing new ideas.

JS: What's new for 2008?

MWM: Time will tell. This past year has been a wonderful blur. I've had so many awesome opportunities to do both commercial work and fine art. I'll be showing at BO Concept in Soho this March with Fellow KDU member Si Scott, Aerosyn Lex, Matt Rowean, Alexander Noe and Lisa Ferguson; Another Show in April in the UK, curated by Brand Nu; the ROJOout Project launches in February in Barcelona; The Bangers Four Book; and a grip of stuff I can't think of right now too. It will be a productive and exciting year for me.