Interview with Matt Rota
q)Who are you? Where are you from and where do you live now?
a)I’m Matt Rota, I grew up in the countryside of upstate
Now I live in Brooklyn
q)What is it that you do? What media do you use?
a)I’m An Illustrator for Magazines, comics and other print media. I paint with watercolor, draw with pencil and ink, and sometimes color my drawings with Photoshop.
q)What do you think sets your work apart?
a)I’m not sure my work is set apart (though I’d like to think it is sometimes) what sets it apart may be for others to decide. If I had to say anything I would say the straightforward way in which I deal with difficult subject matters such as war, poverty, human suffering. I tend to have intense emotional responses to these subjects and create work leaden with a heavy mood. My work is not very conceptual, it is pretty straight forward, so I have a very straightforward, sometimes deadpan way of dealing with tragic issues.
q)How long have you been showing your work for? Did you have a “big break?”
a)I have been pretty active since about 2006. The first time I was published in the NY times op Ed section I felt like things were starting to happen, people were starting to respond to my work. Don’t know if ever had a big break, mostly a lot of little steps. Still taking little steps. This past December when I won a silver medal from the Society of illustrators for the work I did on the documentary The Silent Truth felt like a significant step. I validated a lot of work that I had been doing that I felt was going unnoticed.
q)What are some things that have inspired you?
a)I get my biggest day-to-day inspiration from surfing the web, looking for bizarre photos that make me realize what a strange place this world is. Goggle image search any subject, and you’ll find the strangest stuff. I was always a fan of post World War One German expressionism Like Dix, Grosz, Ernst; also Goya’s Black paintings, and Horrors of War for how cynical, and sinister the work was. Movies have a big impact on me. I’m a big fan of old noir films like Sunset Blvd. The Third Man, Kiss Me Deadly, Story of a Love Affair, Touch of Evil, German stuff like Dr Caligari, M, Nosferatu, and other silents, Passion of Joan of Arc, Man with the Moving Camera. Italian stuff from Di Sica, Felini, Passolini, Antonioni other stuff from that time period, Goddard, Hitchcock, Bergman, etc, etc. The Shining was always a big influence too. And books, more than I can name. I read more books than movies I watch or artists I look at and if I get started listing I won’t stop, and this list is already a little self indulgent, but, here’s a few anyway, Coetzee, Paul Bowles, Raymond Carver, Bulgakov, Graham Greene, Bellow, and on and on and on… Some Contemporary artists that have been making a big impact on me are William Kentridge, Justin Mortimer, Adrian Ghenie, Aron Wiesenfeld, Inka Essenhigh, Andrew Hem, Sam Weber, Tomer Hanuka, Josh Cochran, Henery Darger, and comics by artists Dan Clowes, Gipi, Fredric Coche, Moebius, Lorenzo Mattotti, Carol Swain, Jason, John Pham, and Brecht Evens. I could go on, but I should really stop now.
q)What have you been working on recently?
a)I do the occasional Op Ed piece, recently about all the uprising and war in the middle east, And other illustrations for print, I’m finishing up drawing a comic with writer Sean T. Collins, coloring a comic for a friend Owen Brozman, called Nature of the Beast, Working on several pieces that will be in group shows throughout the year, and teaching at the School of Visual Arts, and at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
q)Do you listen to music while you create your work? If so, would you give some examples?
a)Yes, lots. I’m listening to the new low album now, called C’mon. Bill Callahan has been on repeat a lot, his new album apocalypse is really good. Also enjoying the new dirty beaches album. Other favorites include Yann Tierson, Kurt Vile, Dept. of Eagles,
q)Do you do work in any other media? Other projects not necessarily related to your main body of work?
a)I listed a couple about, such as coloring a graphic novel. The Documentary I mentioned, the Silent Truth, I collaborated with an animator, I recently work on some story boards for the forthcoming movie A Late Quartet. These are all areas where I am collaborating, so the work is not solely my own.
q)What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?
a)Make friends with other people that show their work, especially people whose work you like. Find galleries that show work that you can relate too, and think you fit in with. Start building a relationship with people who work in and show in galleries that you would like to work with. Working in the art world is all about being apart of a community and building lasting relationships with like-minded people.
q)Do you have any upcoming exhibitions of your work that you can mention?
a)I am in a couple of group shows later in the year. Primarily a show called Dark Water, in LA in the Copro gallery, curated by Martin Wittfooth. I don’t want to say too much about it now, but a lot of artists I admire will be in the show, there will be a web site up soon with info. Also a show curated by Monte Beauchamp themed around the folk creature the Krampus. Both of these should be pretty interesting.
q)Where can people see more of your work on the Internet?
Google image search.