Mattias makes environmental art and the most incredible sketch zines and records of events. If you love art or drawing you want to swap with him – trust me!
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Disclosure – I am currently working with Zeno Carta on an anthology planned to release in June.
ZL – Your work is, so far, all black and white linework, would you like to see your work coloured?
ZC – I’ve been focusing for now on the rhythm of black and white because, while colour can do a lot, it can also easily overwhelm. Black and white is all most comics need to do their work, and I find that, when done well, black and white is actually clearer and more appealing. It’s hard to match good black and white design for pure impact.
That said, my most recent comic as of writing, “Warehouse (nsfw)” uses limited colour to do what black and white can’t.
I think that many comics treat colour almost like an afterthought, but colour has its own rhythms to consider–otherwise you lose the focus that black and white line art often has on its own. At the very least you need to know the colour wheel and basic pleasing palettes like dual and split complimentary.
ZL – Do you remember the first time?
ZC – No idea when I first liked something, but the comics I read as a kid were mostly Tintin and Peanuts. I pretty much believe that Herge and Schulz can teach you most of what you need to know about comics, before learning on your own. Learning comics is mostly practice–more of a craft than book-learning–but Tintin and Peanuts make a pretty good foundation.
Going back to those comics now, I think you can still see a sort of spark that explains why everyone knows them. I mean, it’s no fluke that they’re still popular, while the vast majority of comics never make it out of the basement. They have something to say, but know how to say it in a way that feels like a real experience.
ZL – Given an unlimited budget and all the time in the world what would you create and where or how would you send it into the world?
ZC – Given unlimited time and resources and time, I’m sure I would start a whole bunch of crazy projects and never finish any of them. There’s far more creativity in restriction and discipline than there is in unlimited resources.
Restriction, both in time and money (and even in skill) forces you to think of new ways of doing things. If you’ve got to draw a page that’s supposed to be an intricate city scene but you’ve only got a few hours left, you’re going to have to figure out some different way of doing things that might actually end up being better from a design or story perspective, while still taking less time. In other words, restriction forces you to experiment.
This isn’t an excuse for laziness in comics, but rather what I mean is that, when given unlimited freedom, there’s nothing to spur you to change bad habits and discover new ways of doing things. (This the is the reason I tend to stick to a grid. I’ve got to box myself in or else I lose all sense.)
ZL – I’m new to your work but have dug through your website and really love what I see. How long have you been drawing comics and what was the impetus to start putting them online?
ZC – I made comics as a kid but only came back recently. Right now I’m just sort of seeing what people might be interested in.
Or in more modern terms: In order to reach #success you must #motivate and #extricate your thoughts #fromdepressiontoinvention to #testthemarket and #findyourself today in this web of internet tubes that create a mirror on our life and demand our attention at every moment but take us even farther from the nature which would make us #happy, which is why you could do with a monthly #successquotes postcard (from my Patreon) with a custom sketch to help you out of the trap.
ZL – What is the most important influence on your current work?
I really liked those “influence maps” from a few years ago (basically ancient in internet time) because they revealed how far away influences can be even for people who have stuck with a similar style their whole career.
Or in other words, once when I was a teenager I was out in an old flat-bottomed aluminum boat. The water was really low that year, and a shoal that had never been a problem before suddenly looked way too close to the surface. I was still running fine, but instead of skimming the surface I decided to slow down. The boat lowered just enough that the propeller crunched where it shouldn’t, which snapped the shearing pins. And being the idiot I was at 15, I hadn’t replaced the spare shearing pins after tangling with some lily pads in a marsh the previous fall. I had to prop the motor and paddle a mile home, meaning that when I got there I had to eat moose instead of venison.
Disclosure – I should let you all know that I have worked with Mattias on a contributor copy only zine.
ZL – You are an artist often working with groups or on large public pieces – what place do zines have in your work?
MG – Zines and self-published work have its own platform in my practice, and then it plays different roles in different projects. For example, there is one solo track where I draw by myself and collect the drawings on a blog (visual notes) where a constantly changing narrative occurs, one that I can look at for a better understanding of how I am working and what topics or methods interest me at the moment. These drawings are turned in to a type of random collage zines every three months or so like an archive of my drawing work. Another type of zine is the series ”MASU Works” that I do together with my colleague Susanne when we collaborate as MASU and do larger scale sculpture work both in urban public space and as Land Art in the forest.
We use MASU Works to collect sketches, try out new types of methods, document projects as well as invite writers or produce exhibition catalogues. MW has an open format, with no specific logo, size, design or purpose but is rather elastic in its framework for whatever is the content. MW is both an ongoing process for us,an artist collective and a way for us to distribute and share our work and we make issues when we have projects.
Besides this I am also part of a few different situations where self-publishing is involved where either zines are produced, traded or lectured about as well as collected, archived and discussed.
So, to conclude your question I think self-publishing is constantly present in my practice in different formats.
ZL – Do you remember the first time ?
MG – There are probably many of those moments that I have forgotten, but I think the one moment in recent years that took my breath away was the work of Tadashi Kawamata at Centre de Pompidou in Paris 2010. The actual exhibited pieces, a couple of loosely constructed huts or sheds that hung outside on the building facade, were of course great but what really got me was an image in a book from an older project: Apartment project “Tetra House N-3 W-26” 1983 Intervention in situ. In this project old wooden planks flow around the small house like the wind, almost encapsulating the building. The movement in the wood in relation to the solidness of the house is mindblowing.
Kawamata’s early projects really opened things up for me.
ZL – Given an unlimited budget and all the time in the world, what would be the project you’d make to be remembered by?
MG – Oh. It would be a project dealing with education.
I really like the Skateistan-project (www.skateistan.org) which started as a support structure for young girls in Afghanistan where they could go and learn how to skateboard, and once in the spot there was also education and an empowering environment. The project has branched out to more locations, also including boys.
Education for next generation global citizens is key.
So, if I had the means I would do projects like this in a bigger scale than I do now.
ZL – You work at a university that seems to have an amazing zine library, if you could suddenly find any one zine, what would be that treasure?
MG – 🙂 I am not sure about amazing yet, we are still very much setting it up, with just over 300 titles so far, but let’s hope we get there.
It is a difficult question, about the one great great treasure. I think for me it is mostly about the variety and the differences of the archive, that it holds both writing and photo essays, screen printed zines and copy machined work, drawings, paintings, collages and poetry from professionals, students and kids. Of course it would be amazing with early works by Basquiat or Patty Smith, but still I believe that the zine world is not so much about stars and collectibles and rather about the possibility to get voices out and bypass the marketplace. So, I think the real gems in a zine collection are the ones where someone just could not resist telling the story, where it just had to be told.
ZL – Which one creator you love seeing do you feel the world knows too little about, and what would you like to tell us about them?
As I said before, Tadashi Kawamata is my always go-to artist. His way of working with materials, people and the space is extraordinary. Even though he is now realizing some real grand projects, I feel mostly connected to his smaller scale projects where there is such tactile connection between the different components. Also his drawings and models for the projects are incredible!
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content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019