It seems to me as someone who has come fairly recently into the city of Sheffield that it is a hive of artistic activity, and it constantly surprises me the quality of the work produced here in all forms of Art. Recently I discovered Mattias Jones, and fell in a big way for his work – often based on patterns and scientific forms. To me it just looks fantastically interesting and cool, but if I were a critic of some sort I’d probably say engaging and affecting and exciting. And probably Linear as well. Art critics use the word linear or not (or at least I imagine they do)
The really exciting thing was that I got to find out about his Art and the processes he goes through by actually asking him. And he was good enough not to mock my questions and instead give a really interesting and cool (and engaging and affecting and exciting as well) interview.
What things influenced you visually or artistically growing up?
Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Spain + Portugal. Mosques + Cathedrals. Giacometti
2000AD (Artwork of Frank Quitely, Button Man + Brigand Doom.)
And now, who do you see as your greatest influences?
Bees. Gustav Dore. Escher. The Cosmati Family. Inigo Jones. El-P. Electric Wizard. Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Well, constant music, lots of old stuff but a fairly solid diet of techno, hiphop, occasionally work to the orchestrated noises of computers being tortured, change it up.
Looking at your work, do you consider yourself and artist, designer or scientist? Or a mixture of all three?
Genres feel limiting, don’t necessarily describe work and are applied looking back… but I’m definitely no scientist.
Is it tough making your way as an artist (of any sort) in this day and age?
Good things are rarely easy.
You work often looks very intricate and complicated – can you explain the processes you go through? What role do computers play in your work?
Everything starts as doodles. The drawings get more elaborate (well into tens if not hundreds of versions), then goes onto a computer for further work, generally. Its all about the real though. Paint, ink, print. It completely depends on the pattern – some are procedurally generated in part, some are entirely hand drawn or vectored manually on the computer. The mac will always get used, just not much sometimes.
Is your work something you always wanted to do, or did you just ‘fall’ into it through other things?
Dodgems at Scarborough funfair onward, but I’ve always drawn stuff.
What stages did you go through before you found your style? Or was the use of pattern in your work always there?
As long as I can remember I’ve pretty much always been spotting then drawing patterns. Over a while learning skills I did the work I thought other people would
like as opposed to what I really love – that’s no longer the case.
How do you think your style is developing over time?
I’m just trying to work out what I like. Trying to make things that have some power.
A lot of your work is science based – is this something you’ve always been interested in?
I’m really interested in how things fit together, I try and read everything I can. Scientists and mathematicians look for these facts, and it just seemed natural to collaborate with people who know more than I could.
You say you take patterns from science and music etc. can you give a little more insight on that? Any examples?
The work of Roger Penrose. Quasicrystalline geometry. Found in nature. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/345849/description/Prospecting_for_Quasicrystals
Ernest Edmonds exhibition is on at the site gallery, do you consider your work to follow in that lineage in terms of his use of science and computers?
I wasn’t actually aware of Edmonds til getting to that exhibition – epic work. I’d be honoured to be considered to be anything akin. It may seem a bit strange in this hyperconnected world but I mainly take influences from old photos and prints, the Victorians, Fifties design. It’s great to gradually become aware of more and more geometric and procedural artists that make incredible heartfelt work.
You’ve worked with a lot of collaborators, musical and scientific – how did these come about?
Talking to folk. Caring enough to learn and knowing when to ask for help. Knowing some great people. Recently, Vanessa Toulmin and Sheffield University enabled a huge robotic collaboration with a small army of enormously talented people, and I can’t thank them enough really.
Anyone you would really like to collaborate with?
An architect with a pattern fetish.
A lot of the music you use/have used in your collaborations is electronic, is it the almost mathematical precision of this type of music that attracts you?
I don’t really hear that all the time. Good electronic music is organic and has a massive groove, I don’t necessarily hear the maths, same as I don’t really see it in my own work constantly, I see the patterns. All that said, the Cellar Dweller tune for Black Sun was specifically chosen because both used the number sixteen heavily.
Sheffield because it’s the nicest place to live in the UK. I came here for love (and the music) and ended up staying. You can get some head space to learn what you actually want to do and the actual space to try it out and develop skills. Working as an artist in Sheffield is mainly about just getting your head down and getting things made. I know, respect and admire lots of people I rarely get to see because of this!
Best things/places about Sheffield are…
The Peaks. The Old Sweet Shop. Rare and Racy. Pollards.
Are there any local artists (etc) whose work you admire?
Jon Birdseed is a genius. Buy his work. Studio Dust’s work is impeccable.
Everything I see from the lads – Phlegm, Craww, (Michael) Latimer, Color, Mila K and BOMS makes me smile.
Musically, everyone should be aware of The Black Dog, SND, Trellion + Sniff, Cellar Dweller, Squarehead and Loshea. All smashing it out of Sheftown.
Across the Peaks get to know Denis Jones and AKKORD.
What are your plans for 2013, any exciting things in the pipeline?
I’m seeing where I can do with flat pattern design. Doing some fabrics, cabinet made furniture, and projection mapping, all in relating pattern.
I think Sheffield is…
The only place in the UK I want to live. Aggravating. Rewarding
Getting in touch with you is easy, via…
Thank you so much.