It is an exciting moment when you find an artist whose style captures your eye and transports you into that other-worldly place within your own imagination. That happened for me the first time I saw Matt Snyder’s work in August of last year. Since then we have had a few conversations which are always interesting and intelligent. As luck would have it I was able to get some time with Matt this week and get some of his thoughtful insights about his work and process.
Art Guide San Diego: When did you discover you had artistic aspirations?
Matt Snyder: My mother was always a bit of a creative. So she would take me to arts and crafts stores and let me pick something out. I think she realized that it would keep me quiet if she bought me some tracing paper and let me sit around tracing comic books. It wasn’t until later in life that I discovered oil painting.
AGSD: So, oil paint is your primary medium now?
MS: Yes. It’s a classic medium. All the great painters I admire paint in oils. I find it to be an extremely forgiving medium. I also find the time I spend in the studio to be very cathartic. But that might just be turpentine talking.
AGSD: How would you describe your current style?
MS: I’m very inspired by the French and Russian impressionists. For me, light and texture are everything that make a painting ‘striking’. I also like to keep my work loose, expressionist and avant-garde as well. So, really my style is an amalgamation of all those things. I think it was Robert Henri that said, “For better or worse style clings to you,” and for the time being I’m quite satisfied.
AGSD: The work that we’ve seen from you recently features street scenes with dynamic mood and movement. Are you continuing to explore this subject?
MS: Absolutely! As a painting that subject has everything you could possibly want in a composition. You have an endless array of colors, light, balance and texture. It still feels great when you nail it and if you don’t, well, start another one. Plus cities are really the apex of human achievement. I think there is always something to explore and a mood to convey there.
AGSD: Where do you find inspiration?
MS: In all kinds of things but music helps a lot. I can usually be found in my studio spinning David Bowie records and making a mess.
AGSD: Do you think that the mood and feeling of the music you are listening to finds its way into your work?
MS: Yeah I do. I actually have a bit of process. I like something fast like punk rock when I’m doing my initial sketches and blocking in and then I’ll bring it down bit with some Bowie or Beatles to bring the painting full circle.
AGSD: What else affects your work, other external events or stimuli?
MS: I suppose all kinds of things can have an effect on an artist’s work. If a current event is inspiring or depressing it can change the colors of my palette from bright and fun to dark and dreary. It’s pretty subconscious now that I think about it. It’s an interesting question. I’ll have to pay more attention now. Also, having the freedom to work helps you get to work. Having my studio at home is hugely beneficial.
AGSD: Having a space is a great thing for sure. Do you venture out for “live” painting? I imagine that would be difficult thing to do given your main subject.
MS: I have done live demos several times and they are a lot of fun. I would like to do more in the future. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from a fellow painter was, “Do quick paintings. You’ll learn more from 1000 one hour paintings than you will from one 1000 hour painting.” It’s made me good at painting quick and intuitively.
AGSD: That is great advice. Speaking of advice, what about those well meaning people at shows who offer their opinion on your work? Do you ever find it helpful?
MS: I find it absolutely helpful. Critique is a huge part of being a painter and you have to thick skin. I often ask other artists and friends to give me a critique and be brutal, don’t hold anything back. After all, the people that attend my shows are the ones who buy pieces and keep me doing what I love. Without them I’m a hobbyist. So, I love their opinions and I do take their criticisms and praise back to the studio with me.
AGSD: So, what shows do you have coming up?
MS: I have a solo show at OBRgallery for the Ray at Night event the second Saturday of February (2/11/2017) in North Park. Ray at Night is a lot of fun, with tons of art and great folks. Come check it out!
AGSD: We definitely will. It’s been great talking to you. Anything else you want to get off your chest before we end here?
MS: It’s been great talking with you too, Brian. Thank you for all the work you and Art Guide San Diego does for us artists. Let’s do it again sometime! I guess as a closing statement to all my fellow artists and friends: Keep on keeping on, guys! Let’s always support one another and keep the art scene in San Diego thriving. Take care!
Brian Baxter, January 14, 2017