I’ve said it before, but Matt Haber (mentioned previously) is hands down one of my favorite artists, alive or dead, human, animal or mineral. The stories that he tells have a feeling of Boy’s Own adventures; exotic lands filled with daring, ready to be explored. Combine that narrative quality with brush work so clean you could eat off of it, and a soft range of colors that brings to mind a Winter carnival, and you can almost feel yourself standing knee deep in the images of your childhood. That’s really what Haber’s work brings to mind, is that quality of mind that we all possessed as kids, where we knew the things we imagined were real, that unshakable conviction that the world was magical and held unknown wonders that were waiting for us just around the corner. Matt Haber’s paintings have turned that corner and found the amazing worlds we all sought, and now he gives us some insight into his place in those worlds. Read the interview after the jump.
1. Name, Age, Location, Art Education?
Matt Haber, 33, Brooklyn, NY. Some time at Art Center, Pasadena and 2 years at RISD.
2. What brought you to (keeps you in) New York? Why leave So Cal?
Ny is a moving organism -it’s amazing to sit back and watch. Leaving So Cal was easy because i was burnt out on it, but i miss it terribly, I’m looking for the right opportunity to move back.
3. Where do you get your inspiration?
From stories of all kinds.. music lyrics, the right song. I have a couple of playlists on my computer that i can throw on and instantly be in work mode. Pretty fast punk rock/ melodic hardcore works -i know it’s a contrast to my somewhat mellow painting style. Great movies inspire -usually animation (Triplets of Belleville comes to mind and all Miyazaki movies.) The idea of ‘making more’ where anything is possible inspires me.
4. What’s the origin of your style?
Love of stories, characters and things made by hand. Love of antiques and history. Painting is the quickest gratification for me to tell my story snippets. In the near future, i want to get brave and publish my book and movie ideas.
5. There’s a lot of narrative aspect to your work. What ideas or stories are you trying to tell?
Something that once happened or will happen still. I was talking to a friend about his work and he said he feels like he’s uncovering a history of a civilization that once existed. That kinda sums it up for me too. I like throwing characters in the mix together and predict how they will act. Any story is worth investigating.
6. Do you find it challenging to convey concepts pictorially over verbally?
The challenge for me is in the actual painting process. Usually the final details, since my work is trying to be very clean, there isn’t much room for error. I get a little nervous, like stage-fright or something.
7. What occupies your mind aside from art?
Lately it’s been apartment searching, but I’m unbelievably psyched on my new place now. I’ve been thinking about far away friends and family. Nothing too mind-bending.
8. Explain your process for creating a new piece
I can usually see new compositions in my head. Draw some doodles, then draw tighter versions of the characters and make a scale drawing of the painting. I scan this and do about 2-4 color studies of the piece on Photoshop. I sit around and let the best one jump out at me. Then I lightly transfer the drawing on panel and start painting, usually changing or adding colors and characters/narratives along the way if needed. I usually cross-reference older paintings i’ve done to look for answers to story problems and as a way to create a dialogue between paintings.
9. What other projects are you working on right now? Shows coming up?
I’m working on a drawing series for the 5th anniversary of a hair salon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; the theme is my girl characters primping and pampering and trying on costumes -i’m excited about it. I’m doing a solo show early next year at The Bldg -they recently released a silkscreen for me. I’m also working with Lebasse Projects in La for an upcoming show.
10. Non art-related, but equally important: top 5 things to eat and places to get them.
Anything baked by my Mom -Home.
Akamaru Modern Ramen at Ippudo, NY.
Go-Go Curry, NY
The 2 taco combination platter at Don Cucos, La.
My girlfriend’s cooking. You’re lucky if you can get in on it.
11. Sketch something for us quickly, whatever comes to mind first, then scan it or take a picture so we can see your raw style
They are usually so rough only i can make them out.
12. Any advice you’d like to give to emerging artists? Shout outs to your crew? Messages to the world?
Go at your own speed. Its easy to burn out. And make friends with everyone, the scene is small and everyone tries to help if they can. Peace to my crew.
Thanks for your time, Matt!
To see more of Matt’s work, check out www.mrhaber.net