Matt Dunne is a graphic designer with a monumental body of work a prolific history of working in graphic design under his belt, having designed over 2,500 tees over the last few years. I had the opportunity to visit him in his studio to talk about the best steps to create interesting designs, and what an important role music plays in creating new work. Matt has a very cool garage set-up on the Surf Cost of Australia, and on the bright Summer day that I visited him, he rolled up the garage door to show me his very cool workspace.
Beth Caird: I love the quirky and slightly off aspects of your designs – can you tell me where the ideas for your images come from?
Matt Dunne: For years now, I have had a big fascination with popular culture. I am deeply influenced by film and music and I think this is where most of my ideas come from. Surrounding yourself with inspiration/influences is so important to keep you going and keep you fresh. My studio is full of books, magazines, posters so if I ever get stuck, I can sit back, take a breath, and have a flick through. Who knows what it could trigger? Colors, a composition, even a quote from someone like Hunter S. Thompson can make my mind leap to a completely new idea.
The basic theory I tend to use is to create something surreal and to try and take two ideas and blend them into one. Eg: “Rock War Peace” is taking a simple child’s game and making it deal with a serious issue, does peace always win over war? Seems like a simple idea – but I believe makes it a powerful image.
BC: I notice in your collage work, your images are a mix of places and people with varying scales and sizes. Where did you get this style?
MD: The influence for these comes from really retro movies! “King Kong” (The 1933 version directed by Merian Cooper not the 2005 version with Jack Black and Naomi Watts, that’s heinous! Haha)
I also love the art of “Attack of the 50ft Woman” and “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.” If you have never heard of this and you’re into really retro movies get on board this.
I have an enormous collection of amazing horror and B-grade movie posters! 5800 of them in fact! Which I think is where I have adopted the use of scale and composition. These collages all started because I wanted to create a publication on popular culture. It was originally just an idea to help improve my skills and develop my style. I think over the last decade of designing/trialing it has started to go somewhere I’m happy with.
However, there is always room for improvement and I don’t think I’ll ever stop developing!
BC: Music seems to be a big influence in your work, who has been your biggest musical influences? Do you have any favorite designers that are making music posters/product stuff? Who do you look up to in terms of musical design/artists and illustrators?
MD: Music has always been a big influence for me, Ones that stand out are: Black Keys, City and Colour, Notorious, The XX, Daft Punk, The National. There are so many amazing illustrators/artists out there that I look up too. Two of the best/my favourite artists art Tyler Stout and Ken Taylor. I’ve recently become addicted to Pinterest if you’d like to see the music/music posters that inspire me check them out here.
BC: I really love your hand drawn stuff, what tips and advice can you give to designers wanting to start making their own hand drawn stuff? And what tools/pens/pencils do you use to make these?
MD: For anyone wanting to start it’s easy! All you need is a couple of pencils and an idea!
I like to try and tell a story in these illustrations and let the viewer interpret it in their own way.
Here’s a Step by step guide of my approach:
Step 1: When it comes to creating these I always have a listen to some music and pick out some lyrics that I feel are relevant and come up with a story that I want to tell.
Step 2: From here I usually draw up about 10 tiny boxes and draw rough compositions that could work for my idea or the story I’m trying to tell.
Step 3: I use Images to create a really rough collage.
Step 4: Print out and put onto the light box and trace the outline just to get the proportions in perspective.
Step 5: Fill in the details with my pencils then throw onto the light box and trace out with a 0.1 Fine liner.
Step 6: Scan in, play around with some colour palettes and begin to colour up and paint with my Bamboo tablet in photoshop.
BC: On a serious note – if you were exiled to Alcatraz… what three albums and three art supplies would you take with you?
MD: This is a really hard one! I knew you were going to stump me with something haha..
There is so much music I love it’s hard to choose!
1. Wait What – The Notorious XX (I could listen to this all day every day! Biggie is such a boss!)
2. Kavinsky – Outrun (gotta love nightcall from the movie “Drive”!)
3. City and Colour – Bring me your love
As for art supplies:
1. A Power Generator
2. My iMac
3. Bamboo Wacom Tablet
We’d like to thank Matt for taking the time to share his space, time, and advice with us. You can see her more of his work and support him at his Redbubble portfolio.