We discovered Matt via the Cat On The Wall Twitter page. His graphic and design work really impressed us so we thought we’d get in touch and find out what Matt Needle was all about…
Cat On The Wall: To begin, can you tell us a little about your history? When did you first discover your interest in design? How did you develop your style?
Matt Needle: I grew up in a nothing town just outside of Oxford, not exactly a culturally inspiring town to say the least. I went to school, did ok; I was only ever interested in 3 subjects: Art, History & English. After school I went to the town college, firstly to do a general Art course which spanned everything from graphics to sculpture, to textiles and photography. From there on I decided I wanted to do Graphics and Illustration, so I enrolled on the college’s design course. When I began I goofed about a fair bit and had an odd sort respect/contempt relationship with my tutor, by the end of the two year course I had turned myself around and become an exemplary student.
From there I went to University in Newport as my tutor from college was connected to there and recommended it to a few of us. The three years at uni flew by in which time I honed my skills, went freelance and started scoring pretty decent clients. Whilst I was at college I did a few placements and even had a job in a design studio, but ultimately I decided that to do what I wanted to do I would have to be freelance, and that’s where I am now. having just graduated with first class honours and working from my studio flat in Cardiff I continue my creative journey which has only just begun.
My Style adapted over the years but I always had a sort of constructive/chaotic style which is often abstract and surreal.
COTW: You already have quite a large portfolio with some very high profile clients. Does your creative process differ when dealing with clients in comparison to your own personal creations? Do you find it more of a challenge?
MN: Everything spawns from the same place, of course when I’m working personally I can go as crazy as I want, but when you are working commercially it’s a lot harder as you have to sort of think in the mindset of the client and what they would want. Saying that a lot of clients see my work and kind of let me do my thing. My creative process would begin normally with me sitting down with a pad and a pen scribbling down notes and sketches, bringing that all together and drawing up a plan, I would then get on the computer and make the idea happen using Adobe creative Suite (namely Photoshop & Illustrator).
COTW: Out of all the projects you’ve worked on can you tell us about one that really stood out for you?
MN: By far the best project I worked on was the campaign for The Big Chill Festival, I was commissioned by London-based Design agency Bleach to create an illustration that would represent a certain phrase used to describe the festival. They basically called me up after they had seen my work in Computer Arts Magazine and said I could do what ever I wanted and get paid for it. Hands down the best project, and it was everywhere a billboard in Birmingham, flyers everywhere, various magazines and papers all over London. So it was great exposure as well as total freedom.
COTW: What/who inspires you?
MN: I am inspired by the things I see around me and I strive to create beautiful, meaningful, complex and often bizarre pieces. I am inspired by many things and people including, Salvador Dali, Escher, Massimo Vignelli, Saul Bass, Milton Glaser, Terry Gilliam, Bauhaus, Surrealism, Paul Rand, amongst many others.
COTW: Is there a particular company/product you’d like to design for? Or perhaps an area of design you’d like to focus on? What is your ideal working situation?
MN: I love editorial illustration work, music industry stuff and film related stuff, and Ihave been lucky enough to jobs that cover all of them. My dream job would be to just make movie posters, album covers and editorial illustrations all day long, but of course you have all the other stuff in between, the bread and butter work that pays the bills. My ideal working situation would be to save up some money in the next couple of years and get a studio set up, outside of my living environment, and maybe collaborate more with local talent.
COTW: What are you enjoying reading/listening to at the moment? Any up and coming designers we should know about?
MN: I’m enjoying reading “Death and The Penguin” by Audrey Kurkov, a book my housemate leant me, it’s brilliant and well worth a read. As of listening to I love my music and listen to lots of stuff whilst working, I especially love Spotify where you can get almost anything you want. In recent weeks I’ve been listening to The XX, The Cribs, Jamie T, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Blur, and Jay Z’s new album. As for UP & Coming designers, I wouldn’t know where to start as there are so many talented people out there. People who I love the work of though include Brand Nu (Radim Malinic), Alaric Hammond, Kerry Roper, and Sean Freeman. These guys are some of the most talented players in the game at the moment.
COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?
MN: My plans are to keep creating, get more work, get locally and nationally established, I’m starting make a book of my designs which hopefully should be out next year. Then in the foreseeable future who knows I may take a studio job or I may carry on down the path I have chosen and hopefully start up my own studio.I plan to stay in Cardiff for at least the next year and a bit, but after that who knows.
Interview by Jo Whitby