Matthew Dunn is an Australian artist who creates emotive works that embrace the melancholic with an inner strength driven by hope and determination. Matthew has beautifully created scenes and characters that capture the pain, joy and sense of humor we all experience in life.
Check out more of Matthew’s art and discover the stories behind the characters.
"I try to only create work that means something, even if that meaning might only be relevant/obvious to me at first."
How long have you been an artist?
I’ve been drawing my whole life. Started making my own comics aged 10. Quit my day job and started working full time on my art 8 years ago. Some days I feel like I’ve been an artist my whole life, other days I feel like I’m not one at all. But at the end of the day I don’t really care about such labels (and the long winded discussions they often create), I just like to draw.
Please describe your work in 7 words or less.
Hope and melancholia soaked in ink.
What is your weapon of choice?
What artwork are you excited to work on next?
“Salvation Is Free” which is a comic and music project. It’s my own love letter of sorts to various sources of inspiration throughout my life, from old western comics to gospel/blues music and more. I’m collaborating with my wife on the story and we’re also working with some of our favourite musicians which is a very exciting process.
You’ve been keeping very busy with a new project, a U.S. comic. Would you share a bit of that story with us?
It’s a story that takes place during WW2, and I can’t say much more than that at this stage. It’s also the longest story I’ve ever worked on that I haven’t written myself. That took awhile to get used to, but it’s quite nice to not carry all the creative weight for a change. Prior to that I worked on a creator owned comic series titled ODIUM, a 120 page story that I wrote and illustrated (and which will be going to print with the publisher shortly). That was a lot of work, so to be on art-only duties for a few months is a nice change of pace.
What’s the one thing you’re most proud of in your artwork?
I think it has heart. I try to only create work that means something, even if that meaning might only be relevant/obvious to me at first. My art is heavily informed by years of battling depression, an all too common thing face by people in this world, and while I don’t always speak openly about it I think I communicate it somewhat honestly via my art. I also try to instill a bit of light within all the darkness so as to not create anything that is a solely miserable experience (I hope).
What has been the most challenging experience you’ve had during your artist journey?
Just dealing with the business side of the art world is a challenge sometimes and can be a very disheartening experience (the polar opposite of art itself in many ways). It’s good to talk openly with people you can trust when shit goes wrong in that regard, and try to keep the stress of the business separate to the creative process.
Leroy is a common theme in your work. Would you share a bit of Leroy’s story with us?
When I was a kid I had a cousin a few years younger than me who was more like a little brother to me. He died in his 20’s and Leroy was named after him (and his erratic smart arse attitude, which often overshadowed his gentle nature, carried over to the character as well).
"Share you work, interact positively with people and keep moving forward."
Which is your favorite work uploaded to Redbubble and why?
Thumper. I find you often lose some of the finer details and textures in the process of preparing an ink illustration for garment printing, but all those details (especially the halftone stamp) carried through nicely. It’s also one of the best gas masks I’ve drawn to date.
What’s been the biggest technical skill that you’ve nailed?
Knowing when to stop working on a drawing. It isn’t always easy to do but it’s a valuable skill to learn.
Do you have a specific memory where drawing becoming an integral part of your life?
When I was a kid I had a really bad case of the measles and was in an isolation ward for a few weeks. Thanks to a high fever I slept a lot, but I also spent a lot of time playing with Star Wars toys and drawing. That’s probably my earliest memory of drawing being an escape/coping mechanism, a purpose it has since served many times over.
What’s your top tip for selling artwork on Redbubble?
Share you work, interact positively with people and keep moving forward.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?
Work hard and don’t be a dick.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
I’m a creative partner for the Brazilian based organisation Meninadanca. They work to help at risk girls and combat child prostitution along the BR-116 highway in Brazil. You can find out more information at http://meninadanca.org/