Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Featured Crafter: Matt Muirhead

Describe your art and what led you to this particular medium.

I'm primarily a painter, but now that I'm screen printing (the last 3 years), I'm expanding into clothing, etc. It's nothing I can describe except that it's constantly evolving and expanding. As soon as I'm able to pin it down, it wriggles out of my definition. Painting seemed pretty intuitive for me, and when I looked at my future I couldn't see myself working for anybody else, so I thought, "Maybe I could tolerate being an artist in the long term."

What materials do you prefer and why?

I was a picture framer up until this past February. I make a lot of paintings on museum mat board. I get all the scraps I want from the place I used to work. It's great for printing on - so smooth. I also must admit to a bit of a paper fetish. I paint with acrylics, and I love ink and a dropper. I've also developed an addiction to spray paint and fluorescent pink paint. I also use Masonite (so smooth, gessoed with a squeegee). I use a squeegee to create a lot of the painting effects in my work. So much bandwidth in the striations. I build all my own screens in a friend's wood shop, as well as my own light box for exposing my screens.

What is your process like?

Chaotic. I work on a lot of pieces simultaneously. I have about 120 screens. The images are varied - old photographs, ads, blocks of text from old books, my own drawings, friends' poetry, and photographs I've taken. I have so many styles in my repertoire which I use to create whatever I want. I rely on a lot of accidents to take me in new directions.

I lay out maybe 20-30 boards and just start layering images and creating narratives within each piece. Now that I'm making clothing, I have a similar process - lay out all the articles I've decided to print on and begin placing images on them. They all come out unique and interesting, and if they don't, I just keep layering until something is happening. The result is a phenomenal output. The mixing of so many images gives me an exponentially increasing amount of possible paintings and design/narrative possibilities. It's so exciting to see an image I created a year ago be printed and read in the context of something I just made last night. I couldn't have intended the combination, yet there it is.

I spent a significant amount of time living in Tokyo, and just loved the freshness of the contextual blindness in the fashion's of Harajuku: "Let's dress in a traditional Victorian era gown and mix it with a Rolling Stones t-shirt." I love non sequitur. I love the absurd. I love that all the images I use have some sort of significance for me, whether a cultural affinity, or political/philosophical alignment. With them at my disposal, they become a language I can use to illustrate a multiplicity of ideas quickly.

Do you consider yourself an "indie" artist?

Yeah. Voted Best of Baltimore last year as the place to buy art, the self-representing artist is by definition independent. I think the proliferation of social media, and the grassrootsy zeitgeist of this moment in history means that it's never been easier to forge a path that avoids all the traditional venues for the thing I'm doing.

What advice would you give to other aspiring independent artists/crafters?

I don't know. I did what worked for me. I kept on working and making things and getting them out there. I've surrounded myself with loving and supportive people. The most dreaded phrase for me has got to be "You know what you should do." I've got an unorthodox approach. As a photography major in school, I took some basic painting classes, but am pretty much self-taught.

Share something about yourself that most people don't know.

I have a piece of sculpture in a park in China. It's a large, copper ship/Nautilus-shaped piece. I created it for an NGO in Japan that I was affiliated with. I built it in my kitchen, then, I got to go to China to unveil it. Pretty amazing experience.

Matt's gallery HEADSPACE is located at 720 W. 36th St. and is open Thursdays and Fridays, 4pm-8pm, Saturdays and Sundays, 2pm-9pm or by appointment. Call or text 443.791.6670 or email

You can also see current work at
Metta Integrative Wellness Center in Hampden (located above HEADSPACE), Joe Squared at North and Howard, The Rowhouse at 1400 Light St., and JOJOSouth Records at 2011 N. Charles St.

Finally, check out some of Matt's videography on his YouTube channel (be sure not to miss the short film To Warm the Bones - one of my personal favorites).

All images courtesy of Matt Muirhead.


mscharmschic said...

I think he's very interesting. I love how he has work in Baltimore and even in China. I love how he is inspired by the fashion's of Harajuku. :)

Victoria said...

He is real and unbound by society. He is true to himself as well as the people in his life. If it feels right he reaches out and does it. I am always enlightened by his freedom and talent. Matt is a breath of fresh air!

Maggie said...

Matt is one of my Favorite Artists..Why? Because he is my only son Matt. A wonderful person his entire life, Creative and Gentle, yet a wild imagination inside that head of his. He has traveled the world spreading his creativeness, from teaching Art on the Peaceboat to posting his homemade videos on Utube, check out Lordzombie.. He is an inspiration to be with, you meet Matt and leave him feeling like you want to know more about him.. he is amazing