Ireland-based Illustrator and Graphic Designer Matthew Griffin thrills us with his shadow monsters and comet riders straight out of a Comic Book!
Matthew’s shadow-covered Giants stalk the landscape, spelling impending doom for the idyllic suburban and rural settings that the Giants occupy. They’re well-prepared to conquer the plant and assume their reign as rulers of the Earth. With skillful execution, Griffin illustrates creatures straight out of a fever-dream and incorporates Pop Culture iconography reminiscent of Jack Kirby’s work on The New Gods.
Girffin’s Comet Riders series really brings out the Kirby-esque elements in both the characters and the setting. Cosmic entities ride great comets, seeking new worlds to inhabit, while hurtling through space!
We have an exclusive interview with Matthew, so read on for his thoughts on everything from the Poster Art scene to Jack Kirby!
I Got Birds: Hi Matthew! What led you on the path to become an illustrator? A specific teacher, influence, etc…?
Matthew Griffin: I had been an obsessive drawer from early childhood, and always harbored the dream of doing either art or music (I used to play the guitar a lot) for a living. When I left school I was a little more unsure, thought I could just make it by some miracle and frittered away a few years before having a career in the media in London, and ended up as a music journalist (and web mule!) for a big broadcaster there. I was doing a lot of design and some illustration as part of my job and it was then I realized I really wanted to be an illustrator. So I took a gamble in 2008 and moved home to Ireland to pursue a freelance career. I was not good at first! I had no real idea of what I was meant to do (I thought you had to do a little of everything) but with a lot of guidance from fellow pros here (I’m part of Illustrators Ireland & The AOI in the UK) I managed to improve and slowly build up a career. Still a lot of learning to do of course!
I Got Birds: What gave you the idea for the “Giants” series of illustrations? I think they’re pretty amazing and am very curious about what led to their creation.
Matthew Griffin: Thank you! To begin with it was an exploration of style using brushes and textures and me trying to create atmosphere more than anything else. I wanted the viewer to be haunted by the images a little. The giants themselves kind of started with two other pieces I did – ‘The Comet Riders’ & a gig poster called ’The Bogs’. The Comet Rider’s input was that, in my head at least, this is what those characters would look like if they came to earth. And The Bogs character lead to the comet riders!
At the Offset creative conference in Dublin this year the amazing Jon Burgerman said: ‘Build a world, and invite people in.’ So I’m kind of attempting that, while exploring new styles for myself. So to me all my personal work is kind of connected – e.g. the discs featured in pieces like ‘Engine Running’ & ‘Track Abandoned’ are the warning.. The giants are the arrival…
I Got Birds: Your Comet Rider series is very Jack Kirby-esque. Reminds me a lot of early Silver Surfer artwork. Was Kirby an influence on this series?
Matthew Griffin: He would most definitely be an indirect influence. I wasn’t an avid reader of Silver Surfer for some inexplicable reason (I was more 2000AD and Toxic Comics), but any images I did see of him gliding through the cosmos stuck with me and have definitely come through in my work. I need to go out and get all of Kirby’s Surfer comics now. I don’t know why I haven’t yet…
I Got Birds: You’ve designed Gig Posters for various musicians. How different is your working process when compared to your more fine art work?
Matthew Griffin: It’s funny, that’s the second time in the last week that some one has described some of my work as ‘Fine Art’ and I never saw it as such (but I appreciate the categorization!) – to me it’s all illustration. And in both my poster work and my personal pieces it is really just me exploring visual styles and trying to make a good-looking image! I love gig posters for that reason – there is no limit to what I can put down on the page (or screen). I can let my imagination go. And also, I love typography, so posters allow me to introduce that. So I guess the process is no different!
I Got Birds: The Poster Art scene here in the States is growing at a large rate but is still pretty small, although there is a rabid fan base who will stand in lines for days to get a poster sold by Mondo Gallery. In your opinion, how different is the scene in Ireland as opposed to the States?
Matthew Griffin: Well, a small scene in the States probably consists of twice the population of Ireland! So it’s one I would love to be a part of. Also the standard over there is so incredibly high – the likes of Delicious Design League, Hero Posters, James Flames (can you tell I listen to Adventures in Design?) and all the guys who do stuff for Mondo are just amazing. So if I was ever to be a part of that I would feel very proud.
As for Ireland, it is much smaller, but the demand is growing for beautiful, screen-printed posters. And we have some brilliant poster makers – Gav Beattie for one (of Tiny Little Horse) is second to none. I can only hope more acts, labels & venues cry out for illustrated posters here as I really want to do more of them!
I Got Birds: Finally, where can people find you online? Facebook, Twitter, etc…?
Matthew Griffin: All of them!
Keep an eye on Matthew Griffin and follow him at the links above!