MATTHEW TRYGVE TUNG | STUDIO VISIT
NEW YORK, NY
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When did you start calling yourself an artist?
Making art has always been central part of my life—I’m not sure when I started calling myself an artist, but the act of creating has been a part of me for as long as I can remember
When do you make your best work?
When I’m working on drawings and paintings I work best at night after everyone has gone to bed. With pottery it’s the opposite, I work best in the morning or early afternoon when my mind is fresh and (relatively) uncluttered.
Regarding your method of making, is it a case of the material or method dictating the idea of the other way around?
Material and method are fairly intertwined with idea for me, they all serve each other to varying degrees.
Is art making therapeutic for you?
At its best, art making is extremely therapeutic and meditative for me; it is a way of quieting and focusing my mind, allowing me to get outside of myself and into the moment with whatever I am working on.
Artist whose career you covet?
Honestly, anyone who gets to spend all of their time making art and not worrying about day jobs!
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
Continuing to make work, hopefully with a schedule that allows me to focus the majority of my working time on my own art.
If you could travel anywhere to create for a while, where would you go?
I would love to spend an extended period of time making art somewhere along the Pacific Coast, where I could hear and smell the ocean all day long.
I was born and raised in San Francisco, which has always been an especially vibrant city, especially in those days before all of the tech companies moved in. My mom used to have her own small graphic and typesetting business back in the days when cut-and-paste were literal terms, involving razor blades and glue guns, and when computers served a minimal role. As a kid I spent a ton of time at her office drawing and playing with all of the tools she had there. Her job also put her on the periphery of a lot of other creative fields, so I had a fair share of exposure to different people making different things.
I also spent a lot of time with my dad at job-sites he worked on as a painting contractor, which was pretty far removed from an traditional sense of the creative world, but actually taught me a lot about how to look and see. His work involved an incredible amount of attention to detail, as well as the big picture, and he would always ask me to serve as an extra set of eyes when he brought me along. We also spent a lot of time in paint and hardware stores, and to this day I can still lose myself in a display of paint color swatches.
What are your other hobbies?
Long meandering walks, typically with my camera.
If you could have a drink with one artist, who would it be?
I think Saul Leiter would have been an interesting guy to have a drink with before he passed away—he had a fascinating approach to art, fame, beauty, and looking at the world.
What influences you?
Patterns, prints, architecture—the deliberate and the incidental. I spend a lot of time just looking and absorbing, whether it be on my way to work or down some internet rabbit-hole. The more you look, the more you see.
What’s your studio philosophy?
Enjoy what you’re doing and don’t overthink it.
Avoid thinking of art-making as “work.”
How many hours do you try and work in the studio per week?
My primary studio has been in my apartment since 2012, initially by necessity, but eventually by choice. I like having my work and the ability to work right there in my home. As a result the time I spend making art is very integrated into my home-life. I don’t set off to the studio at a designated time and spend x-number of hours there, instead I work on things whenever the time or inspiration crop-up. This has been especially valuable since my Daughter was born last year—I get most of my drawing and painting done after everyone else is in bed. I do work in a separate communal studio for my pottery, though, and I try to get over there as often as possible.
I can go either way. I’ll usually start out listening to some podcasts to keep me company, but often end up working in silence once I’m absorbed in the work.
Tools or mediums you’re dying to experiment with?
I would love to experiment with making my own paints from raw pigment, and perhaps playing with some textile dyes.
Keep on making art.