Today i get to finally release this excellent collaboration with the wonderful Mat Pringle!!
It is a sweet ass print we made together over the course of.. oh jesus like a year and a half. A long time coming.
You can see it at the AP editions page http://www.antiquatedpress.com/Editions/index.php
Here is a nice photo of the man himself… Mat Pringle
And scattered throughout all these words are photos of our collaboration: The Phantom Huntsman.
And for your reading pleasure, Mat and I did this Q&A discussion about this collaborative effort.
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Joe: So it is pretty great we finally get to release this collaboration!
It was a long time coming, but the final product is pretty great.
For those who do not know, the way Mat and I collaborated on this
piece was he drew the original illustration and I interpreted it on
Mat: That is pretty much the gist.
Joe: So Mat, you are a London based artist. An illustrator and printmaker
extraordinaire who I have admired and considered a pal for years.
For those not familiar with you - how would you describe your work?
Mat: Ha it’s odd in this day and age we seem to gather friends from afar
without ever meeting them and before you know it you’ve been pals for
ten years or so and you still haven’t met each other and yet with us
all plugged into this brave new world of social media we can follow
each other’s exploits relatively closely! I always remember
discovering your work on Threadless and being totally blown away by
your drawing technique and fantastical concepts so it was a real joy
to see you move into printmaking full time.
My work is predominantly me, my trusty dipping pen and a bottle of
Indian ink. Just about everything I do be it lino or increasingly
watercolour pieces stem from that initial pen and ink line work. It’s
evolved over time from being obsessively detailed into a slightly less
detailed style - I think this is to do with confidence in my own
abilities - my initial approach to drawing was wow the audience with
lots of detail to distract from the fact I’m not so good at drawing
but I’m now at the point where I don’t feel the need to do this. This
combined with the desire to be constantly learning new approaches
means my ‘style’ is always evolving but it nearly always starts with
my dipping pen and Indian ink.
Joe: It’s so true about this era of connectivity.. one day were gonna share a pint or 12.. so, What sort of themes, concepts and ideas inspire you?
Mat: Music and films are a huge part of my life and have been since my
spotty adolescence so these both play a huge part in my inspiration.
More specifically folklore, horror movies, bestiaries, cryptozoology,
the occult, flora and fauna. I’m at the point where I want to do
something more substantial than just a print or poster; I’m more
interested in publishing zines and books. I’ve got a couple of
children’s books on the go that I want to finish in the next few
months but it’s harder to find the time to work on them with teaching
and commissions etc.
Joe: Oh man, I love the unknown, esoteric and Fortean stuff.. one of my favorite dog eared books is the dictionary of the unexplained. For our piece we did The Phantom Huntsman, Im also a huge fan of old fables and tales. Tell me about the piece and what inspired to draw it.
Mat: The Phantom Huntsman is from English Folklore; the story goes Herne
the Hunter saved a King’s life by throwing himself in front of a
raging stag but in doing so the stag’s antlers pierced Herne’s heart.
As he lay dying a passing wizard (convenient right?) saved him by
somehow attaching the stag’s antlers to Herne’s head. Herne eventually
hanged himself in the ancient forest of Windsor and is said to haunt
The illustration is part of series I’ve been working on called
FOLKGORE in which I’ve reinterpreted old Folklore tales but with extra
nudity, violence and more sexual swear words. I’ve even created some
of my own tales such as the Bird Woman of Brockley. I’ve compiled the
first run of stories in a zine which has just gone to print and will
be available very soon.
Joe: how exciting, save a zine for me. The way I am approaching collaboration editions at AP, instead of involving money.. is to split the edition. So you ended up with half of the prints. There are so many companies that offer to put art on products but I really want to be in the clouds with AP and avoid all the bullshit.. what do you think about the way we did things?
Mat: I think the way we (you) worked the collaboration was perfect. I
wouldn’t have got involved otherwise but the design world is currently
full of shady companies offering to put your artwork on mugs,
coasters, prints, contact lenses, condoms etc and it’s total bullshit.
Total fucking bullshit in fact. The profits are typically very low
and what’s more you’re cheapening your artwork by allowing it to
happen. I’m a printmaker and I make runs of prints with love and
[occasional] hard graft; I don’t want the same artwork being mass
produced on fucking napkins and teabags. Plus that approach
encourages all kinds of bullshit such as ripping off other people’s
work, churning out endless shitty pop culture referencing crap and it
encourages laziness in creativity.
By doing it the Antiquated Press way we have absolute control over the
artwork, I know the prints are going to be fucking great because I
know you really care about what you do and if people like them we both
Joe: that really is encouraging.. and I couldn’t agree more. The landscape of derivative work right now is depressing.
One of the toughest things was shipping the completed prints to you
for signing.. I know that was stressful. It is a long way from Alaska
to London and back. But it is seriously satisfying having both our
signatures on the work. Maybe it is just me, but i get anxious
whenever I mail anything… cause of the crazy amount of work
involved. I reassure myself that i am just being crazy.. I tend to be
crazy sometimes. Is it just me?
Mat: Ha no that part was a nightmare for me too not least because the
Postal Service in the UK is so fucking expensive. I went back and
forth to the Post Office three times tweaking the package each time to
get it to a certain size and it still cost a veritable fortune to send
back without a signature! I was in a hellish limbo waiting for you to
confirm you’d received them! It felt worse because I know it was 99%
all your hard work too!
Joe: You do amazing lino cut prints, I own several. How do you feel about a
medium like relief printing as opposed to straight up drawing for
silkscreening or other types of printmaking?
Mat: Aw shucks thanks. I think the medium works for me really well as it
retains my pen and ink line work perfectly; I’m very conscious of not
veering too far away from that aesthetic. Plus it tends to dictate a
very limited colour palette too which is something I like to stick to
as a result of doing a lot of screenprinting. Plus I suck at lots of
Joe: I too am not a big color guy (no surprises there) I have a hard time not cutting my hands to bits with lino prints..
One day we will get a chance to hang out and you can give me
Mat: Yes it can be a beast. I teach Illustration and Printmaking at the
BRIT School in London and I’ve seen a student slice through her
finger. It’s not pretty. I tend not to teach lino cut printing
Joe: So if you were able to give advice to someone out there. Lets say a
person who is considering working towards being an independent artist.
What would you tell them?
Mat: Always be drawing. And draw what inspires you and drives you, don’t
get caught up in what everyone else is drawing and how they’re drawing
it. Stop with the shitty pop culture references; the world doesn’t
need anymore Breaking Bad/Game of Thrones prints. Don’t be a dick.
And don’t work for free.
Joe: When I work I need to have music playing in the background, it is part
of my ritual - I have lots of little rituals when working. What sort
of environmental things do you require to be productive and creative?
What albums are on your drawing playlist right now?
Mat: Same. Records are key. And tea. Plus biscuits. I generally like a
tidy workspace too as I feel it’s conducive to being productive but if
you could see my studio right now you’d laugh your cock off at that
statement. It’s a fucking tip.
I’m currently reassessing my record collection off the back of a
back-breaking house move by listening to every single lp from A to Z
and I’m in the Bs right now so lots of Broadcast, Boards of Canada,
Bonnie Prince Billy, Black Sabbath and the Beatles (Instagram hashtag
#vinylcullatoz if you’re that way inclined…). I have a theory that
if somehow you could only listen to music made by artist’s starting
with one letter of the alphabet, B would be a strong contender. Think
I’d have to wangle it in such a way I could have Captain Beefheart in
there too but that kind of works right? Which letter would you
Joe: Oh wow… B is a strong contender.. Beck, Beatles, Black Sabbath, But the idea of restricting to a letter is gut wrenching.. what about C!! Cake, Cave Singers… I do like your approach though. I sorted my vinyl collection biographically like in High Fidelity. I know I know.. but it is nice to revisit eras in my life based on its location on the shelf. And it keeps a lot of the bullshit from cluttering up my favorite zones. I tend to pick like 4-5 albums and play them nonstop for the duration of a project.
Mat: It’s nearly Halloween too so I’m listening to shit loads of John
Carpenter soundtracks, the 'Under the Skin’ OST and Death Waltz
Oh and Life Without Buildings because I missed them the first time
around and they’re incredible.
Joe: The artistic landscape right now changes so dramatically so fast, you
and I participated in the gold rush era in the tshirt business. And
that seems to have been replaced with this bizarre world of direct to
product manufacturing.. (my art on duvet covers… waht?!) But at the
same time an etsy revolution with traditional work and one of a kind
work also having it’s place in the sun. Where do you see all of this
leading? And what sort of opportunities do you see for small
independent artists (like us) in the future.
Mat: Ah the golden era of Threadless. Actually I was a little late to that
gold rush but it’s certainly evolved a lot since then. I’m not sure
where it’s headed to be honest. Seems like everybody is an artist
these days with something to sell. It makes me reluctant to get
involved. I think for artists like you and I we have to remove
ourselves from everything else and just focus on making artwork that
moves us and brings us pleasure/contentment, mastering printing
techniques and generally just being miserable old bastards.
Not super helpful I admit…
I think it’s great that there are people like you around to carry on
great printmaking traditions, steering clear of the industry bullshit
and making beautiful work in the process. It was a pleasure to be
asked to collaborate and I can’t wait to see who else you work with
over the coming months and years.
Joe: Aw thanks so much for that Mat, For people who are not familiar with your work.. gimme some links to share.
Joe: Anything else you wanna mention? about any cool projects you have
coming up in the future?
Mat: The first edition of FOLKGORE is coming very soon. I’m also part of a
new publishing group called Spirit Duplicator and we have our first
release 'Atlantis’ coming out soon featuring artists, poets and
writers responses to the theme of Atlantis. It’s fucking great and I
can say that as my involvement was relatively minimal.
Joe: Thanks for your time Mat! and thanks so much for working with me on
this edition. It will forever more be in the Antiquated Press Archives
and that is pretty great.
Mat: Thanks again for asking me and doing such a righteous job with the prints.
—- lights dim, credits roll ———