How did Matt Chase started?
Matt Chase the human got started, presumably, about nine months before September 8, 1987.
Matt Chase the professional got started in August 2013, after he resigned a full-time studio job to pursue an independent design practice. Prior to that there were other jobs, a handful of internships, an overwhelmingly transformative university experience, and several mentors and teachers who assisted in various capacities along the way.
Can you describe the art / design scene in Washington, DC?
As a designer, D.C. can occasionally be a frustrating place. On one hand, there are a staggering number of globally-renowned museums, art collections, and architectural wonders, which, taken together, lend themselves to a sort of casual inspiration that you can absorb simply by walking around and keeping your eyes open. It’s a beautiful city, without a doubt—one of my favorites.
On the other hand, the majority of commercial art & design work here tends to be commissioned as a component to some kind of political, environmental, non-profit, or humanitarian campaign. The overall aesthetic environment—in my opinion—is one that celebrates more conservative, traditional sensibilities. There’s a pervasive “we like it, but it’s too avant garde” attitude. I wish people would get a little more weird with it.
What are some of your inspirations?
My biggest inspirations come from humor, irony, people, and relationships. I also really enjoy being outside. It sounds excruciatingly New-Age-y, but I find that spending an hour in the park is as creatively renewing as any light-bulb-above-the-head moment. And infinitely more so than browsing the redundant expanse of the Internet.
What do you seek in making these type of artistic practice?
With editorial art especially—which is 99% of what I do—my goal is relatively straightforward: I want to supplement the content in a way that either enhances someone’s understanding of it or makes engaging with it more enjoyable.
In you experience, what do you find is the hardest thing to overcome as a graphic designer / artist?
The compromise you have to make between your own aesthetic sensibilities and what’s best for the task at hand. The danger in designing for yourself—or for other
designers—is that you dive head-first into an insular rabbit hole, gorge on trends, and neglect the real audience entirely.
Was there a moment or a decision you made in your career that you feel was a personal success?
I don’t know if success is the right word, but receiving my first editorial commission felt like a real moment of significance. At the time, I was working as a studio designer, coasting along happily but not necessarily feeling professionally fulfilled. I took the assignment cautiously and quickly realized that projects were far more meaningful to me when I had complete agency over the creation process. It probably seems like a minor revelation, but at the time, it was like getting hit head over the head with a steel pipe (in a good way, if such a thing exists).
Are you interested in exploring other sides of graphic design? If so, please tell us a little bit about it.
If I ever find the time, I’d love to dabble in motion graphics.
What is your favorite part about your creative process?
Idea generation—those first moments when absolutely nothing is off the table and I’m free to consider every avenue, even if it’s hopelessly bad, without the fear of something being, well, hopelessly bad.
What advice would you give to young people who are trying to find their style?
My advice to anyone trying to find a style is to stop trying to find a style. Working within a confined aesthetic range makes you a known quantity. You want to be able to surprise people sometimes—even yourself.
What role does artists have in actual society?
I’m going to go full-cliché hear and quote something I heard in a movie once: “Artists use lies to tell the truth.”
Describe your work in 3 words.
“Hey that’s neat!”
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