Artist Interviews 2021
Mathew Laurence Knott
By Julia Annabel Siedenburg
Mathew Laurence Knott is an artist that brings his own feelings and interpretation into his comic-like art. His vivid pieces as well as his strong black and white ones are a lot of fun to look at. Inspired by the “greats”, he creates a 3D effect in his entangled images.
His ideas can be found on canvases as well as on surfboards and other articles. There is no end to his imagination. When I found his work, I really wanted to get to know more about the person that was behind it. And now here we are
Your graffiti like comic inspired looking art is fun, dynamic and so full of life. How does your process look like?
The theme of the comic is inspired by an old Cherokee parable called “The Two Wolves”. The story goes like this. A boy is explaining to his grandfather that there is a battle in his bead between two wolves.
What inspired you to do this type of art? What meaning lies behind the different colored stretching arms/ pipes that keep showing up in your art?
Throughout my artistic journey, I have gathered inspiration from many different places. In grad school, I was very fortunate to be exposed to all the greats. I feel in love with Picasso, Van Gogh and Andy Warhol. I spend a lot of time trying to recreate their style. At the same time I was also in love with comic books and cartoons. Cartoons and comics were always my favorite style of art.
I became obsessed with the idea of owning my own characters and style the way Walt Disney had Mickey or how Bill Waterson had Calvin and Hobbs. I was also a big fan of Dr. Seuss. I loved how he drew his trees. The “pipes” that you see or the “arms”, if you want to call them that, are my interpretation of his trees. They ate very abstract in their form and could be used in so many different ways.
Tell us about your background and upbringing. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Mission Viejo hospital in 1991. My parents were very hard working people and lives in a very comfortable middle class lifestyle. I went to private school from Kindergarten to 8th grade. Every month we had an art class called “ Meet the Masters”, where we would focus an entire day on one artist. Learning about their upbringing and how they grew to be a master of their craft. This is when I got “obsessed”. I wanted so badly to be my own Picasso. In high school I took all four years. This is where my art teacher Mr. Tran noticed I had some real raw talent in painting and drawing. Mr. Tran really gave me special attention and motivated me to get better and I did. After high school, I took some classes in college but I was tired of all the boring assigned projects of painting trees and fruit. One day, I was on Instagram and I realized all I was doing was following people that I don’t talk to anymore. This was when I deleted everyone and all my past posts. I began following artists that I admire and I started posting doodles and experimental pieces that I had been working on.
Eventually, I smothered myself with content from other amazing artists. Everyday I was finding more and more artists that I had never heard about who were making the kind of artwork that I loved to see. I still follow that to this day.
You have broadened your mediums and started painting entire rooms, surfboards, shoes and more. How did that start and what is your favorite medium to paint on?
I love and will always love paintings on canvas the most. Spray paint has been and always will be my best friend. When you see other artists and their success, you realize that they figured out how to create their own identifiable style and how to translate it to anything. Kaws for example started as a graffiti artist, turned painter, and now his large-scale sculptures are some of the most popular installments on the planet. I understood years ago that it is not enough to just be good at painting. If you want to break into new industries and really surprise people, you need to step outside of your comfort zone. I started painting surfboards because I love to surf. I started painting sneakers because I love sneakers. The idea that my art could wrap itself around the things that I love became a very exciting journey to me.
Which is one of your favorite pieces and why?
You might not expect to hear this, but my favorite work has to be my black and white pieces. As much as I love color and all the fun you can have with it. Black and White is difficult to nail down. You can hide behind layers of color and never run out of choice. However black and white leaves you with fewer options. It takes a very talented eye to use black and white, as there are fewer choices you can make. It challenges an artist to explore balance and contrast and juxtaposition. I plan on spending rime in future devoting myself strictly to black and white.
What do you hope for your future? What is next for you?
The truth is I feel like I have already gotten everything I want from art. I am abl to eat and pay rent. My art has sent me around the world from New York to Dubai to even Cambodia! I have fans that love what I do and I have met so many interesting people who have become mentors and friends along the way.
I spend a lot of time feeling gratitude for everything that I have accomplished. That being said, I still have large goals. Right now I am working on an installment for a Las Vegas Hotel. I want to do more large-scale work. I want to put out short comics with funny but also enlightening messages. I want to travel more.
Most importantly, I want to get to a point where I can help others achieve their artistic goals and dreams. Its so important for artists to remind themselves that happiness and success are subjective. The fact that you chose to be an artist and you are putting in the effort means you won!