Interview: Matthew the Horse, Illustrator

Matthew the Horse is a self-described Illustrator-Educator-Poet, dividing his time between producing illustrations, teaching at Leeds College of Art, and writing. His use of vivid colour combined with sketchy outlines (he favours drawing by hand over relying on design software) makes him an ideal candidate for editorial commissions, and his portfolio appropriately boasts clients like The New York Times, The Economist, and The Guardian.

Matthew has been freelancing since 2006, and during that time has drawn from artists like Marcus Oakley, James Jarvis, Laura Carlin, Jillian Tamaki, Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious, Guy Billout and Geoff Mcfetridge, all of whom represent a spectrum between pencilled textures and a vivid pop style: “That’s a funny list but if you’ve got time I reckon I could join all the dots.”

As well as being innovative in its aesthetic, Matthew believes that a good illustration portfolio demonstrates “authenticity”. He is impressed by drawing, “especially when it’s able to convey the artist’s own tone of voice”. For Matthew, the artist’s individual stamp should be present in the artwork: “I believe skilful, uninhibited, performative drawing should be able make manifest the artist’s true self.”

For would-be illustrators, Matthew recommends a balance of getting organised, staying motivated, and maintaining a love for drawing: “Don’t stop making things. Momentum is a treasure. Make a clearing in the jungle and protect it. It’s not a race, there is no finish line. Organise your files. Drawing is good for you.”

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