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Matt Ross | Studio Visit

When did you start calling yourself an artist?

To be honest, even to this day I feel like the term “artist” is thrown around so often that its definition has so many meanings that are relative to each person who uses the word.  I try to say that I’m a painter or a sculptor rather than an artist. For me, when I started to think about making art more often than not, I realized that I am on that track.   For example, these days I catch myself thinking about ideas constantly for new pieces and subject matter that I want to incorporate into a piece.  I recently started carrying a small notebook around with me to write down these ideas so I don’t forget them.  I think someone who is inherently an artist is one who lives their art; in a way, their existence is a piece and everything they do even if its subconscious is directed towards expanding and perfecting their method of creation and strengthening artistic identity.  I firmly believe that often, but not always, a true artist is someone who does not use the term [artist] lightly as many of them are plagued by their gift as well as blessed by it. 

When do you make your best work?

At night and often in the presence of the people I love and trust the most.

Regarding your method of making, is it a case of the material or method dictating the idea or the other way around?

I would say the material I’m using directs the style of the piece, but overall I really don’t think too much and rely on instinct rather than a method.  

Is art making therapeutic for you?

Extremely so.  I feel my strongest sense of self and identity when I’m painting or building something.

What are you most proud of?

The fact that my paintings will hang in this world long after I die.

 Artist whose career you covet?

Cy Twombly, Dan Colen, Nate Lowman, JMB, Dash Snow.

 What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

Spending more time in nature, having multiple studios in my favorite cities and traveling all over the world making and selling my art.

If you could travel anywhere to create for a while, where would you go?

Somewhere in Bali maybe, or a remote mountain community.

Did you grow up around other creative people?

My mother is a painter and was always encouraged me to be creative.  I grew up in a very creative community that was originally founded as an artist colony. I was envious of my peers in high school who had the balls to make art with no agenda other than pure enjoyment.

What are your other hobbies?

I love carpentry and welding, and old clothing. I love old Harley choppers, cars, tattoos, surfing, and skiing. Hiking, camping and being in nature, too.

If you could have a drink with one artist, who would it be?

The late, great Dash Snow who I admire dearly and am highly inspired by. Rest In Peace.

What influences you?

My environment influences me, learning more about my craft and the people that have pushed it to where it is today.

What motivates you?

Strengthening my artistic identity. Wanting more and having whatever that want is to be completely obtainable. 

What’s your studio philosophy?

I try and do one thing that I’m truly proud of even if it’s a 1 inch by 1 inch smudge within a painting I’m working on.  Productivity is definitely not measured in quantity or time spent in my studio.

How many hours do you try and work in the studio per week?

I try and go every night for 3-4 hours but it fluctuates.

Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what?

Sound. R&B, Classical piano, or Jazz or Punk, or Rock.

Favorite art­-making tools?

Things that a kid loves! Oil pastels, oil sticks, make up sponges, pencils, crayons, chalk, charcoal.

Any mediums you’re dying to experiment with in the studio?

I want to weld all day long, build metal canvases, and oxidize the material in my style.

I want to work with human skulls.

What’s next?

I want to paint bigger and bigger and more and more.  The day that I am simultaneously working on ten 8X10’ pieces is the day I will feel that I am at where I want to be and have more work and inspiration than I could ever imagine.