If you’re a regular reader of Cat On The Wall you’ll remember that we mentioned wanting to feature Uberkraaft in our interview with Ammo magazine creator Dave Hughes. Well we’re very happy to say that we managed to grab Matt Williams, the man behind Uberkraaft (and illustrator extraordinaire we might add), for a quick chat about his work…
Cat On The Wall: What first got you into illustration and how did your interest evolve? Where did the name ‘Uberkraaft’ come from?
Matt Williams: That’s a tough question. It’s a relatively recent thing for me, I’ve always made stuff for as long as I can remember but I never really considered ‘illustration’ as a separate discipline or something I was ‘into’ until I started experimenting with styles over the last year or so. With hindsight, illustration has been quite a large part of my career as a designer but more recently I made the decision to start making things for fun and I suppose it’s developed from there. The ‘uberkraaft’ thing came from my design identity ‘kraaft’ – It’s pretty arbitrary, obviously it sounds like ‘craft’, typographically I liked the idea of the double ‘a’ and I figured it would work well for search engines. When I moved towards more personal work and it became more important to me I added the ‘uber’ – meaning ‘over and above’ in German… I think I just like the look and sound of the word.
COTW: How do you form your ideas? Is there a creative process you follow when producing your work?
MW: I think I’ve been blessed with an active brain. I can’t take much credit there. I don’t really have a strict process to generate ideas, I think I just have a talent for identifying ideas when they crop up. Quite often, when I can’t squeeze out an idea, I’m happy to resort to a doodle style that invariably throws up ideas without me needing to think too much. I tend to find that if I get into the mindset of thinking too hard, trying to get a ‘really good idea’, I end up not making any work! So the doodling helps me to keep the pen moving and stops me drying up completely.
COTW: What’s your favourite medium to work with?
MW: Anything that’s to hand really. If I’m doodling, I love the feel of Posca markers on bristol board … they seem to do all the work themselves! I’m finding myself working more and more digitally, so I feel quite at home with a Wacom tablet and for pure enjoyment I still love painting from time to time, if just for the therapy value.
COTW: You’ve had your designs featured in quite a few magazines online and offline. Is there anywhere in particular that you’d like to see your illustrations? What aspirations do you have?
MW: Yeah, I’ve been really lucky! It’s still a surprise when I get asked to do stuff like that. I loved being in Ammo, and I like the idea of being in the smaller niché art publications alongside other artists I admire. I’d really love to do something for Anorak because it’s so joyously unique. If my work developed in the right way, I’d give me left arm to do something with Nobrow too.
COTW: Do you use music when drawing? What are you listening to right now?
MW: I’m a big music fan and I always listen to something when I’m working. Quite often I’ll try to listen to stuff that I think fits the mood of the piece I’m working on. I was recently working on some Spanish flavoured work, Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain rally helped it along! I tend to listen to stuff with a bit of a groove in there somewhere if I’m deep into drawing and maybe something a bit more freeform or instrumental if I need my wits about me. At the moment I’m repeat playing Tame Impala, Ariel Pinks Haunted Graffiti, The Unicorns, Male Bonding…
COTW: Are there any artists you’re interested in at the moment? Any recommendations?
MW: Ha, it’d probably be easier to list the artists I’m NOT interested in! There are a few people who continuously produce work that I wish I’d made … My absolute number 1 has to be Marc Boutavant for his sheer magical talent of getting so much simple charm into his works. I can’t get enough of McBess, just effortlessly cool and unique – a brilliant mix of 30s era animation stylings with bang up-to-date sensibilities. Other than that, I’m consistently impressed by Nate Williams, Meg Hunt, Jeremyville, Peskimo, Scott Balmer … the list goes on!
COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?
MW: Well I’m running this big collaborative illustrated marching band at http://colonelwindpipe.blogspot.com that’s going to keep me busy for a while yet! I’ve got big plans to organise a show next year but it’s early days. I’m starting work on a new version of http://www.uberkraaft.co.uk that will incorporate all of the creative stuff I do rather than just illustration…. Beyond that I’m just going to carry on trying to make stuff that I can be proud of and working in as many styles as I can, hoping that there’ll be some people that dig it 🙂
You can also find Uberkraaft on Twitter.