MATT SNYDER / SELECTED ARTWORK / BIOGRAPHY / ARTIST STATEMENT / INTERVIEW / PAST EXHIBITIONS
Matt Snyder Interview
La Playa Gallery: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Can you give us some background info like your name and where you live?
Matt Snyder: My name is Matt Snyder and I live in San Diego, California. Specifically, the East County, up in Alpine. I love it up here, it's a small town in a big city. I go to the taco shop and they know me on a first-name basis, or I can walk down to Alpine Beer Company and have a friend from high school pour me a pint while we catch up. It really is a beautiful little piece of San Diego and when you get bored of the trees it's a quick trip down the hill and to a whole metropolis to explore.
LPG: Can you give us a brief overview of the work you create?
MS: I'm drawn to the human condition and environment. I'm known primarily for my cityscape work, which I can't seem to break away from even if I wanted to. Those paintings never get boring. There is always a mood or emotion to convey there. The possibilities are truly endless and as a greedy painter I want to paint lights, reflections, any color, all colors, shapes, cars, people, textures, perspectives, etc. There is so much you can do in a cityscape painting. Nothing gets redundant.
LPG: It’s interesting that you love painting the city but do not live in the heart of it. How and when did you get started?
MS: I always spent a lot of time as a kid drawing but I think it was around 2007 when I started oil painting seriously. I had played in a local band for years, and when we split up, I had come to the realization that playing music is a very collective art form, and for better or worse, you are beholden to the opinions of your bandmates. I wanted to do the opposite of that, I wanted my creative decisions and process to be my own, and that drew me to painting.
LPG: What motivates you to create this independent new work?
MS: Simply put, those breakthroughs. You paint and paint and paint and the work stacks up in the studio and eventually you get to that one painting where the technique, or the color, or mark-making hits this breakthrough where it forever changes every painting that proceeds it. Then you look back at your old stack of work and it all feels inferior. I live for that. I'm self-taught, but I want to play with the big boys. I don't want my work to look self-taught, so that drive to improve and get the most out of my work is my key motivator. I patiently wait out those breakthrough paintings.
LPG: Is there a specific series you are currently creating and what is the inspiration behind it?
MS: I'm currently working on a series of large cityscapes. I always found large panels to be really daunting, and for the longest time was afraid to break into them. The panels are more expensive, you use an exponential amount of oils, and you have to put a lot more time into the piece. What I found, however, is that it is incredibly liberating and actually a lot easier than trying to get the details across in say an 8” mini. So right now I'm working on 2x2’ or 3x3’ pieces and I'm just having a blast.
LPG: Wow! That sounds like fun. I hope we get to see some of those paintings at your show. What do you think is the most indispensable item in your studio?
MS: Rye whiskey. I'm only kidding, kind of. Probably my little French box easel. I've had it for ten years now and, while I flirt with the idea of buying a nice expensive H-frame easel with counter balances, etc., I love my little easel. It's my sidekick, the Robin to my Batman or like an old dog that's always happy to see you no matter what. That easel has seen a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
LPG: Do you have a routine you follow for creating or only work when inspiration hits?
MS: I do tend to stay pretty regimented in my work. Passion for art can't be fabricated. It has to exist inside you at all times. If you sit around waiting for inspiration to strike you aren't working enough. If you aren't working enough you aren't improving at a rate you desire. Even if I'm not in my studio physically painting I'm more often than not doing something that has to do with art. Whether it's reading “The Art Spirit” for the 500th time, or watching a YouTube video of someone being the Charles Dickens of color theory, I am constantly trying to take inspiration and education back to the studio with me.
LPG: Speaking of your studio, do you collect anything and does it influence your work?
MS: I actually laughed out loud when I read this question, and when my wife asked what was so funny I read her the question, and she said, “Are you going to tell them you collect EVERYTHING?” So yes, I am known to collect. I have comic books, regular books, vinyl records, cat treats for when she's being a good girl, jackets, 80s action figures. I can go on and on. Right now I'm working on completing David Bowie’s catalog on vinyl. Bowie is a huge inspiration to me. In fact, most the work for the new series has been blocked in to David’s album “Low,” which I think is phenomenal.
LPG: So, obviously you are inspired by musicians but what artist or artists have influenced you the most?
MS: I've always loved the French and Russian impressionists, but really I love American painters. We never had a huge art movement in America like Europe has. I think guys like Sargent and Robert Henri are just brilliant. You look at Sargent’s handling and just go, “Wow, if I could paint at small fraction of how good he is I would be over the moon with that.”
LPG: I don’t think anyone can argue Sargent wasn’t a master even with today’s wide range of popular styles of artwork being produced. Support for each other is so important. Locally, what artist excites you the most?
MS: Oh, I can't just name one. I think Michael Flohr’s work is amazing and he is one of the most humble, down-to-earth guys in the world. I've got to know him over the years he's never been put off with me sending him a text about this purple or that technique. Just a real cool guy. I also love Optimus Volts’ work. His pieces are always so much fun. I just want to touch them but I’d probably cut myself. He's always great to hang out with and talk to at shows. My wife, Brooke, is great. She is one of those artists that can pick up any medium and just nail it. She keeps me on my toes, and when you live with someone who has that wide of a skill set you'd better be really good at one thing. So, thanks for making me a good oil painter, Nugget.
LPG: Sounds like you have some good support at home. Thank you for letting us into your creative world. It's been a pleasure and we are really looking forward to featuring your work at La Playa Gallery.
MS: Thanks so much for letting me do an interview with you guys! Looking forward to the show!!
*** Matt Snyder will be one of La Playa Gallery’s featured artists in a group art exhibition on Friday, July 6, 2018 from 5 – 8 pm. The show will run through August 17, 2018. Be sure to check back for more details! www.laplayagallery.com