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Matt Skingsley (www.artbyskings.com) is an up and coming illustrator and artist, now well renowned for designing the Vada Advent Calendar. Here Matt meets Vada to discuss the artistic journey so far, CHOKE, and what’s still to come. Remember the name.
How would you introduce Matt Skingsley to our readers?
As a 26 year old gay boy from Essex who loves to draw.
How long have you been drawing?
Since around 5. My Nan taught me how to draw characters from The Lion King. Since then I’d practise every day, got into reading comic books and graphic novels and developed my own personal style I guess. Thanks, Nan.
In today’s uncertain world, it’s quite brave to go it alone and be an entirely freelance illustrator. How are you finding the journey?
So far so good! I’ve had some amazing opportunities pop up in the last 6 months. As a Freelancer you’re submitting typically around 30-40 emails a week and getting maybe 2 or 3 responses back. I had always prepared for that. So with that sort of mind-set I’ve been able to keep a calm head and just pursue as much as possible. Every piece of work pushes me to do more and the more work you do, the more opportunities come at you!
Explain the artistic process to us. How do you prefer to work?
My daily routine is up at 7.30, crawl downstairs and have a strong black coffee. Check emails, send emails, submit, respond, cross my fingers and then look at my notice board, which has post-it’s of clients, commissions, ideas and things to do in a really anal and systemised order, I won’t go into it as that’d be incredibly dull. But I just work from that and aim to get around 2-3 illustrations done in a day and sent to whoever needs them or is interested. This week I’ve got 3 photographers I’m illustrating for and some wedding invites that I need to design too. So the coffee (or size glass of wine) will be pretty big.
What’s the dream?
The dream is just to continue working freely in my own style and successfully as an Illustrator. I don’t want fame or mass amounts of money from it or anything silly. I’m realistic. I just want people to carry on being interested in the pieces I make. I’ve created a graphic novel called CHOKE that I illustrated, coloured and printed myself… Seeing that go out successfully and to have people respond to it in however way they wish would be a dream come true.
Now let’s move on to your designs. We really loved your designs which featured in our Advent Calendar last month. You definitely have a distinctive style in your work. Where do you take inspiration from?
I take inspiration from that kind of American 80’s, levi/slouch look. Bubble gum, quiffs. All very anti-glam but in a stylistic way. For example, my new series of illustrations, ‘Fantassy 10’, is a set of mythological characters and creatures but with a youthful twist. Male model robots, gay angels wearing socks with big quiff hair styles, merman with bubble butts. A modern gay take on something historical and ancient.
What was your favourite illustration from the Advent Calendar?
I was a big fan of the ‘Louis Tomlinson wrapped in Christmas lights‘ piece. For obvious reasons.
Some of the designs which resonated most with our readers were your Lana del Rey, Mimi and scantily-clad 1 direction festive surprises! Do you see your gay perspective on pop culture as central to your work?
Massively. Most of my work I feel is accurate in pin pointing what a gay person of this generation would find attractive, interesting or entertaining. It’s included in all of my work, from my personal pieces to CHOKE and of course, your advent calendar.
Who’s your favourite guy from One Direction?
Louis Tomlinson. Without a doubt. I’d roll up his little jeans at the ankle and we’d go get pizza, maybe go get a tattoo together. We’d have tea and I’d watch him go surfing in Doncaster whilst I drank my tea.
In some circles illustrations like this might be seen as fun, but low art. How do you see yourself in the debate of low vs. high art?
My art is based around pop culture and materialistic things, so I would 100% say my art would be considered ‘low’. It’s to be enjoyed, not celebrated for his artistic ventures or anything like that. It’s not too serious. My comic book is based around a rent boy with super powers, I mean…
How do you see your style evolving? What would you like to explore more in your work?
I’d like to take my style from cheeky, bubble gum colours to something darker and sinister. To see if I can capture the opposite of what I’m capturing now. When coming up with the idea of Fantassy 10 I immediately thought, ‘yes, gay angels, a robot with a cute ass, a fawn with flowers in his hair!’ Which is so very gay and happy. I didn’t think to create a sadistic evil demon based on a man in bondage, or anything too dark. So I think my style will evolve through my age, attitude and general mood. I’d like to enhance my digital art skills, but saying that, I’m a big fan of just putting pen to paper so who knows!
So what’s next for Matt Skingsley?
I’ll be illustrating for Vanity Hype Magazine and Aries Magazine this year, as well as collaborating with a few photographers with some book illustration thrown in there too. To top it off I’m also printing my art on t-shirts and will be releasing CHOKE in May.