I first discovered this talented artist over on Donna’s blog, My OBT (My daily quest for one beautiful thing). The post was entitled: Lucky Thirteen. I was taken back by this man’s level of talent, and felt compelled to tell him how much I appreciated his work. I then took it a step further, and asked him if he would be willing to do a Guest Post on my blog. He was more than happy to oblige. Between his busy schedule and mine, it has definitely been a work in progress. Better late than never!
“Matthew Roby can best be described as a vivid storyteller; one with a wild imagination that knows no boundaries. He is a painter, an illustrator, and a sculptor of captivating characters and curious worlds. He is renowned for his distinctive dark blend of weird and wonderful, which he describes as, “a pickled circus of grandiose gloom.” Over the years Matt’s personal artwork has found its own unique niche in the alternative/pop surrealism movement. Both darkly amusing and enchanting in equal measure, his signature style has captivated fans and collectors alike; creating artworks for numerous commissioners, galleries, and public spaces.”
-Description found online
So, let’s begin with the Q&A session. I hope you enjoy…
How old were you when you discovered your passion for creating art?
My passion for art came as soon as I grasped a crayon with my little fingers, and drawing dinosaurs was my first true love.
What is your favorite creation thus far?
I’ve created so many things, it’s impossible to single out one piece. Usually my favorite creation is the one I’ve just completed, so that would be a 6 foot chandelier light sculpture, featuring a Gothic clockwork doll!
What inspires your creative channel?
Inspiration can come from a combination of many things such as people, places, objects, history, fashion, mythology etc. But I’d say my biggest source of creativity stems from films and literature, as I love to weave theatrics and narrative into my work.
Who encourages you when you hit a creative block?
Fortunately I rarely get creative block; but if it does happen there’s no real source of encouragement. I find it best to just step away for a while and focus on something else. Then soon enough inspiration strikes again.
What is your favorite medium to work with? Why?
I love working in many mediums, such as oils, acrylic, clay and watercolor. But drawing in ink or pencil comes most natural as it suits my instinctive and expressive style.
Do you have a certain “tool” that you can’t live without?
Probably my gnarly old dip pen that’s been worn to perfection over the years, and also my customized clay tools for sculpting.
Do you enjoy music while you work on pieces?
Without doubt, music (and audio books) nearly always accompany me whist I’m working away in the studio.
What was the first piece that you sold? How did you feel letting it go?
My first gallery sale was a roller skating chimp sculpture, which I was reluctant to let go of at first as I was quite attached to him. These days however I’m happy to see my art go off to new homes and bring pleasure to others.
Are you working on anything right now?
I always have numerous projects on the go at once. Right now I’m painting an Alice in Wonderland series and sculpting various new pieces for Toycon 2016. Not to mention other top secret stuff for clients. I’m also making steady progress on my new book, which I hope will see the light of day by the autumn.
How many times have you had pieces featured in a gallery?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have my work exhibited in numerous galleries around the world, both in group and solo shows. I usually create artwork exclusively for galleries 3-4 times a year.
Has your “style” changed over the years? If so, how?
I wouldn’t say my ‘style’ has dramatically changed over the years as it’s always possessed a dark humored narrative streak. Initially I kept switching between realistic and cartoon art, but gradually I blended the two together to form my signature style.
What/Who encouraged you to open an Etsy shop?
The site was recommended by fellow creatives I knew, who’d opened their own shops to reach a wider audience. Most of my gallery originals and one-of-a-kind pieces tend to be out the price range of casual collectors. So I wanted to use Etsy as a platform to predominantly sell limited edition prints/sculpts and generally more affordable art to fans and collectors with smaller budgets.
Is there a special meaning behind your shop name, “Pickled Circus?”
The ‘Pickled Circus’ was originally the title of a book idea I had (which may still appear at some point). I decided to use it as the shop name, as it captures my art’s essence; wondrous fun soaked in strangeness.
What artists do you admire or gain inspiration from?
Too many to name! I grew up reading comics like the Beano and 2000AD and later gained inspiration from artists such as Quentin Blake, Edward Gorey, Arthur Rackham, Gerald Scarfe. Paul Kidby and Peter Howson. And not surprisingly I also admire the film work of Tim Burton, Guillermo Del Torro, Ray Harryhausen and Jim Henson
Do you have a studio that you work in, or do you set up anywhere you can find a spot?
I’ve had my own studio previously, but the last couple of years I’ve been on the road a lot, working in residence for design companies and art galleries. I can adapt and work in most spaces, but nothing beats having your own creative HQ, so I hope to set one up again this year.
Do you make a living from your art? If not, what industry do you work in?
These days I’m now fortunate enough to be a full time artist, be it creating personal work for galleries and collectors or working on various projects for clients in design industry.
What item do you constantly find yourself running out of?
What are some of your favorite things?
Autumn, cats, old movies, rock music, orchestral music, Guinness, mysteries, peanut butter, libraries, snow ball fights, Victoriana, jogging in the rain, books, astronomy, dinosaurs, breaking the coffee foil lid with a spoon.
What do you love most about being an artist?
Simply waking up every day and having the freedom to bring my imagination to life, it’s my Raison d’être
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m probably proudest of my ‘Fateful 13’ touring exhibition, based on a story book I wrote. The project was very ambitious in scope and depth, combining stories, illustrations and sculptures on a grand scale. Creating all the work, almost finished me off, but it was worth it, as the show toured thirteen galleries over two years to great acclaim and made my name in the art world.
What is one life lesson that you feel everyone should know?
Failure is merely a dress rehearsal for future triumphs.
I love this lesson!!!
What obstacles have you overcomCreate to get where you are today?
A great many, you can have all the talent in the world, but it means nothing without hard work, perseverance and belief in yourself.
Is all of your skill self-taught, or have you taken art courses?
It’s mostly self-taught, but I have picked up some new skills and techniques along the way, during my time at college and university.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
These days I’m pretty much always working! But when I get chance, I enjoy the great outdoors, watching movies, going to music gigs and getting lost in a good book.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully still doing what I love to do in some shape or form
Goals that you hope to obtain:
At some point I’d really like to stamp my artistic vision on a film or animation
Are you surprised by your success up to this point?
In a word, yes. I’m continually flattered and gratified that my art connects and brings enjoyment to so many people around the world.
Do you take custom orders?
Yes, depending on how busy I am with other projects, but I’m always open to commissions.
Where can people find your work?
My work can be found all over the place if you search my name online. I also post updates on various social media…
Thank you SO much Matthew for taking part in this interview! It was wonderful learning more about you, and your creative process!