VAC Board Member, Nicole Muyingo, interviews Venice Based artist Matt Warren! Find out what real life experience inspired Matt to become a dedicated artist.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
Matt Warren. Artist.
2. In your words how would you define art?
I see art as being the expression of an idea. Something that inspires people and makes them think. Good art should raise questions and create a dialogue about the subject matter.
3. At what age did you realize that you were creatively talented?
I’ve always been interested in art and creating things. As long as I can remember, I would be drawing or making something. I guess I got seriously into art when I was in High School, and was lucky to get accepted onto a Fine Arts course at University without an interview whilst traveling on my Gap Year – and from there I’ve never really looked back.
4. What’s your background?
I was born in Guernsey, an Island of the coast of England. I studied my Undergraduate degree at UWE in Bristol, UK, and followed that by studying my Masters at OTIS College in Los Angeles. I’ve worked in the film industry between traveling and lived in Beijing for a few months while on an Artist Residency Program. I’m currently living and producing art in Los Angeles.
5. What materials/paints do you generally work with?
I work with whatever the project entails – the materials that best help convey what I’m trying to say in the work. I’m a bit of an all rounder, but currently I’m working a lot in pencil.
6. What art do you most identify with?
Anything that has more to it than to just look pretty.
7. Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
The story of Christopher McCandless, on which the film ‘Into the Wild’ was based, was the catalyst for a project of mine. I was looking at the myth of the cowboy, and how the idea we have of this character doesn’t really exist, but is just a representation we have forced on us through the movies.
For the project I rented a horse, borrowed a rifle and a .44 Magnum from a friend and headed out into the Montana wilderness for 2 weeks in an earnest gesture of reliving this stereotype while critiquing the representation of the cowboy we observe in American Pop Culture. I’d been toying with the idea for a while, but
McCandless’s story encouraged me to go ahead with the project, despite the risks, and make it a reality rather than an idea.
8. What is an artistic outlook on life?
It’s such a big part of my daily process that it’s hard to sum up.
It is a way of life, an action rather than a thing. It is a form of freedom and individuality, and a way of thinking. It’s a commitment to make time to create – you get out of it what you put in. It’s a great form of expression and provides the ability to show people literally what you think, allowing a glimpse of what is in your mind. I feel fortunate to have a focus, which directs my career, something I am passionate about that allows me to travel and explore, meet people, and evolve doing what I enjoy.
9. What superpower would you have and why?
My first trip to A &E as a child was due to falling and smacking my eye on an exposed floor beam whilst exploring a house that was under construction. My second was falling through my neighbors’ roof whilst jumping on the skylight. As I’ve grown up my thirst for adventure hasn’t diminished, so I think having Spiderman’s superpowers would be a good thing for me.
10. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Bas Jan Ader is an artistic hero of mine. He was a Danish artist living in Los Angeles, who, in a romantic gesture, attempted to sail single –handed cross the Atlantic in a 13ft sailing boat. What was supposed to be a performance piece, ended when his boat was found off the coast of Ireland, and his body was never recovered. His romantic take on conceptualism really inspires me, as well as how he saw art as a literal and metaphorical journey – a process of discovery. Other artists that I can’t really compare myself to but look to for inspiration are Chris Burden and Allan Kaprow.
11. WHAT is your ‘method’?
I work with many different mediums – pencil, paint, video, installation, or whatever is at hand depending on the best way to explore the subject matter. I start with the idea, and then decide what is the best-suited method and material to use to convey that. This contrast can be seen from project to project – a series of painstakingly rendered pencil drawings, compared to a Saloon Bar made out of cardboard and duck tape.
12. What is your preferred subject and why?
As an English citizen living in Los Angeles, my art practice explores methods of representation stemming from American popular culture, which I express through drawing, sculpture and performative strategies. Los Angeles is fitting as I explore subjects and themes related to film, Hollywood and celebrity culture. My perspective on America is enhanced through living in the environment of my investigation and production.
13. What’s the best thing about being an artist?
Having the opportunity to experience life as much as I can, using art as a means of production to enable myself to do that. Being able to do something I love, and building a career out of it, the freedom it offers, and getting to know and interact with other artists and creative souls.
14. What’s the worst thing about being an artist?
Not having a steady income.
15. What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Keep on trekking. Like anything, you have to want to do it. If you’re interested in art, there is always an opportunity – you just have to find it, and be willing to try. My motto is ‘Quitters never win. Winners never quit’, which I have to remind myself often. It’s black or white. You do or you don’t. There is always an opportunity if you want something badly enough, it’s just a matter of finding it. It might take a while to succeed, but it’s when you stop trying that you fail. You have to just do it.
All art work on this page is done my Matt Warren. Prints also available online.
Interviewed and compiled by Nicole Muyingo.
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Nicole Muyingo is originally from London, England and currently resides in Venice Beach, California. Nicole has curated and successfully produced many events and exhibitions in Europe and Los Angeles. Her focus is to get people networking and to deliver fun and impactful events in the world of art, fashion and music. Working with the VAC she believes that it is important to keep the history and magic of art and Venice alive.