FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS | BOOTH'S BLOG Exclusive Interview With Artist Matt Dixon
By James Whittington, Tuesday 12th March 2013
Matt Dixon is one of the most in demand concept artists and illustrators around. His work has graced some of the most popular gaming titles around as well as specially commissioned poster art and comic strip covers.
His latest book, Girls On Top 2: More Pin Up Art has just been released with a foreword by legendary scream queen Caroline Munro and is a collection of pieces inspired by different sci-fi and horror genres. Here he chats about his career and plans for the future.
HC: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be an artist?
MD: Well I always knew that I wanted to draw. For as long as I can remember it's been my favourite way to spend time but my motivation was always just the pleasure of exercising my imagination. It never occurred to me that I would be an 'artist' and I still have some trouble with the idea in fact, it seems a rather lofty title for someone who spends most of his working life painting aliens, robots and curvaceous women. I certainly never entertained the idea of pursuing a career in art. No one I knew made a living from art and it was never suggested to me as a possible career path as I was growing up, it just didn't seem to be an option. When I left the education system, I started training to be an accountant! (I lasted three hours!)
HC: Is it true you got your first break working in the computer games industry?
MD: That's correct. From around eight years old I'd fiddled about with the computer as an art tool, making pictures out of ASCII characters and learning how to code my own little bitmaps before finally discovering art software. This eventually led to me contributing graphics to a Commodore 64 game while I was still at school. A few years later I had a phone call out of the blue from one of the guys I'd worked with on that game - he'd started his own development studio and was looking for artists. At the time I was working in a guitar shop and was ready for something new so I jumped at the chance and spent 12 very happy years working at that studio. Things might have gone very differently had I not had that phone call.
HC: What's been the most satisfying piece of concept art you've created?
MD: That's a tough one. I enjoy what I do enormously, but once a piece is finished I find it difficult to see anything but flaws so I tend to look forward rather than back for satisfaction. It's horribly corny, but whatever I'm working on at the time is probably the work I'd find most satisfying.
HC: Girls On Top 2 is your latest book, a collection of pin-up pieces. Where did all these ideas come from?
MD: 'Where do you get your ideas?' is probably the question I hear the most often at convention appearances and such. I should really have formulated a satisfactory response by now, but the truth is that I don't know. Ideas just pop in there, and I don't like to think to hard about where they come from in case I somehow break whatever mechanism brings them into being. The pin-up stuff is a little different as the focal point, the female form, is always the same so whether it's the pose that comes first, a situation, or just an idea for a cool costume, it's all built upon that common foundation which makes it a little easier to get started. Once I've got something, however small, to start on I like to start sketching as soon as possible as I find ideas often present themselves while I work. Those early stages of an image where I get my first look at how the finished piece might appear are always the most exciting
HC: I love "Return Of The Gherkinoids" which reflects the humour a lot of your work in the collection contains. Do you feel it’s an important part of your style?
MD: I hope so. For me, art is entertainment. Entertaining to look at and entertaining to make, and that's still my main motivation when I sit down at the computer and pick up the stylus. It's not always a deliberate decision to make my work humorous, but if I'm enjoying myself during that exciting sketching stage I think it often comes through in the ideas I choose to draw.
HC: Caroline Munro has written the intro, how did that come about?
MD: A mutual friend introduced us at one of the memorabilia conventions where I sell my work. I'd had the idea of asking an actress I admire to contribute a foreword to the book for a while and after meeting Caroline I knew she'd be ideal. Good pin-up art doesn't simply present the viewer with some well placed curves and a plunging neckline; the allure of a character lies in the personality on display. I like my women to display confidence, strength and self-awareness. Caroline embodies these qualities perfectly, as do many of her best loved roles, so I was delighted that she agreed to be a part of the project.
HC: Your females in this release reminded me of the curvy models seen in artwork of the 50s and 60s, would you agree?
MD: It's not a conscious choice but I certainly draw a great deal of inspiration from that era so I'm not surprised you can see a connection there. I'm rather pleased with your assessment in fact, I think the more natural portrayal of women in photography and art during the 50s, 60s and into the 70s is a good deal healthier and more flattering than what we often see today. My intention is that my work should be light-hearted and fun but as a guy who paints the opposite sex, I'm acutely aware that I'm only one clumsy brush stroke away from an image that could be labelled sexist or even offensive. Naturally I hear a range of opinions about my work but it's enormously rewarding to have had so much positive feedback from women. I'm not sure if the body shape I favour or the attitude of my pin-up girls is the bigger factor there but female customers account for the majority of my pin-up book and print sales which reassures me that my pin-ups are on the right side of the line between exploitative and celebratory.
HC: All your work is now created digitally; do you miss the "old methods" you used to use?
MD: There is an occasional nostalgia for the old days. The one aspect digital art will never emulate is the multi sensory experience of working with physical media; you can see your digital work, but a real painting can be also be touched and smelled (and frequently tasted when a paint-smeared thumb is nibbled during a moment of contemplation ). There's also an immense satisfaction in producing a 'thing' after your hours of toil - an object that you've willed into being. Digital artworks are forever trapped behind the transparent prison wall of the monitor or stuck to paper. When those thoughts stroll around my head I do miss it, yes. Then I remember finding pencil shavings in my navel or great chunks of toxic cadmium orange paint dried into my hair. All those poor paintings spoiled by spilled water or coffee, or unexpectedly enhanced by various bits of studio detritus that decided to adhere to them. All that stuff is part of the fun of course, but when I'm surrounded by a pack of angry deadlines and about to make batlle, the instant drying, easily undo-able, predictable magic of Photoshop is my chosen weapon.
HC: So what projects are you working on at the moment?
MD: I've just completed a batch of work for the World of Warcraft trading card game, and my schedule for the coming few weeks includes illustrations for some mobile phone games, some more trading card art, a private commission and a project for a European band. Working freelance means all kinds of work arrives in my inbox and that variety really is one of the best parts of the job. I'm also hoping to find time for some more personal work. Now the Girls On Top 2 has been released I'll be taking a short break from pin-ups to focus on something a little different, and I hope to be able to announce my next art book in the summer time.
HC: Matt Dixon, thank you very much.
MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Ruth Platt, director of The Lesson
Posted on Wednesday 6th December 2017
On the eve of Horror Channel's network premiere screening of The Lesson, director Ruth Platt talks about the decision to quit RADA, why her film isn't 'torture porn' and what the future holds.
The Lesson received its World Premiere at FrightFest. How did you react when it was chosen? And what was the experience like?
RP: I was really excited when I found out we'd been picked - we got a call from the team, and they were passionate about the film, and they are such a knowledgable and experienced small team, Greg, Paul, Alan and Ian, and it meant so much. Especially when the making of it had been such an arduous and difficult process! I had no idea how people would react to the film - it was su...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with John Shackleton director of Panic Button
Posted on Wednesday 15th November 2017
As social media horror feature Panic Button gets a remastered DVD and Download release, writer and producer John Shackleton reflects on the film's inspirational journey.
To start at the beginning, what was the genesis or the seed of the idea for Panic Button?
JS: The model of how to make a film actually came before the concept. I'd made a short film with a group of trainees using a bunch of self-imposed restrictions for practicalities sake, to make sure we completed and delivered within the three-week timeframe of the training scheme, who were my employers. The rules were quite simple - no more than five minutes' walk from the office (we couldn't afford a van), no dialogue (we did...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Damien Leone director of Terrifier
Posted on Saturday 28th October 2017
Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film Terrifier at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event today, director Damien Leone talks about the 'Art' of extreme clowning, his debt to Tom Savini and a terrifying Halloween experience...
Art, The Clown initially appeared in your 2008 short The 9th Circle, then the 2011 award-winning short Terrifier and in your first feature All Hallow's Eve. What made you decide to give him a fourth outing?
DL: Up until this point I never felt like I fully showcased Art's potential. I believe between the short films and All Hallows' Eve, there only exists about 20 minutes of Art the Clown screen time. For a character who's done so little, he seems to really resonate with horr...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Mathieu Turi director of Hostile
Posted on Wednesday 25th October 2017
Ahead of the UK premiere of his debut feature Hostile at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Mathieu Turi shares his admiration for Tarantino, describes the challenges of filming in three continents and reveals his 'magic hour'.
You were born in Cannes so you grew up with film all around? When did you know for sure you wanted to direct?
MT: I think it's always been there. As a child, I used to steal my dad's VHS camera to make mini-movies. They were basically all about my Jurassic Park toys eating my dog or invading the garden. Later, I did more elaborate short films with friends, instead of studying. Then, I remember watching Braveheart and the making of the ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Marko Makilaakso director of It Came From The Desert
Posted on Tuesday 17th October 2017
Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film It Came From The Desert at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Marko Makilaakso shares his admiration for Roger Corman, love of B-Movies, spoofing and overcoming homeland obstacles.
It Came From The Desert is inspired by Cinemaware's cult 1980s video game, which in turn was motivated by the giant creature feature craze infesting 1950s Hollywood. What was the main inspiration for you?
MM: There's so many movies and makers which inspired ICFTD, but the main inspiration was exactly that; creature feature infested 1950s Hollywood films, and the legendary Cinemaware Desert games and creature features and action comedies I grew up with in the 19...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Can Evrenol director of Housewife
Posted on Thursday 12th October 2017
Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film Housewife at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Can Evrenol tells us why film is a 'pervert's art' shares his feelings for Fulci and reveals his contribution to Horror anthology, The Field Guide To Evil.
Was it important to make your follow-up film to Baskin in the English language?
CE: I wanted to make the film available for a wider audience and to test myself with a different language movie. I thought it was a fun thing to do.
How do you describe Housewife? What would be your perfect pitch line?
CE: Man, I had this crazy f****d-up dream last night! Do you want to see it?
Like Baskin, Housewife shares man...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Dominic Bridges, director of Freehold
Posted on Wednesday 4th October 2017
One of the stand out movies from Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 was the psychological chiller, Freehold. Dark and at times truly unnerving, the film caused quite a stir and will be released onto DVD on October 9th. Here the film's director Dominic Bridges talking about this superb debut.
HC: Where did the idea for Freehold come from?
DB: Based on personal experience my wife and I suffered a miscarriage whilst trying to buy a house in London whilst the Estate Agents had us bidding against ourselves... I reacted badly which was embarrassing to my wife and myself it all felt like too much fighting for a roof over our heads just tainted the whole of London for us and we moved also the realisation...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Damien Power, director of Killing Ground
Posted on Monday 25th September 2017
One of the best from Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 was a superior thriller, Killing Ground. This tension packed movie looked incredible on the big screen so we decided to chat to its director, Damien Power.
HC: Did Killing Ground take a long time to write and did it change as you progressed?
DP: It took eleven years from the germ of the idea to stepping onto location to start shooting. Luckily I wasn't working on it full time! Once we had a draft we were happy with, it took five years to put the financing jigsaw together. It's a long journey! The biggest change was that for a number of years it didn't really have a third act. It ended very abruptly at the moment of maximum jeopardy. Fort...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Michael Boucherie writer and director of Where the Skin Lies
Posted on Monday 28th August 2017
More new talent seemed to be around at Horror Channel FrightFest this year and one of the stand out movies for me was Where The Skin Lies from Michael Boucherie. Here he chats about this emotional movie.
HC: Did you know from a young age you wanted to be in the film-making business?
MB: Going to the movies with my family is a favourite childhood memory. There was no cinema in our home town, so it always involved a bit of a car trip. Afterwards we'd recount and quote our favourite scenes, for some movies up to this day. My mother also filmed and edited our home movies on Super 8, and she involved me in that. So, on some level I grew up with it. It didn't dawn on me that this was a v...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with legendary actress Barbara Crampton
Posted on Tuesday 15th August 2017
Ahead of her eagerly awaited presence at Horror Channel FrightFest 2017, genre icon, actress and producer Barbara Crampton talks exclusively about her latest film Replace, battling chronic fatigue syndrome and her passion for supporting new talent.
Q: Replace raises questions about beauty, body image and growing older, issues that many feel plague the Hollywood movie industry. What is your view on this subject?
BC: The best movies reflect our inner world, our hopes, our good intentions, trials and our demons. Growing old and the fear of death is endemic to all, not just the movie industry. Just when you begin to figure it out your back aches, your skin starts to wrinkle and you gain weight...SHARE: READ MORE Exclusive interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of See No Evil 2
Posted on Tuesday 4th April 2017
Jen and Sylvia Soska are two of the most exciting creatives around at the moment. Their work is visceral, dynamic, exciting and above all bloody entertaining. We've chatted to these multi-talented Canadians about their work to date in the build up to the UK TV premiere of See No Evil 2 this Friday on Horror.
HC: It's been while since we last chatted and apart from See No Evil 2 what have you both been up to?
SS: It has been a while, but it's really cool that we get to chat again. We hosted a reality horror gameshow from Matador, GSN, and Blumhouse called Hellevator that was like Saw: The Gameshow!. We had a blast making it. I really can't even believe that was a job a person could have. We're st...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with 'Life' star Rebecca Ferguson
Posted on Wednesday 22nd March 2017
Previously starring opposite Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Emily Blunt in Girl on the Train, Ferguson steps out as the lead, standing firmly in front of her co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds in the Horror/Sci-Fi spectacle Life, which opens in cinemas across the UK this Friday.
Starring as Dr. Miranda North, Ferguson plays the last astronaut on-board an International Space Station which has recently caught a space probe containing the first sign of extra-terrestrial life. Studying the life form quickly turns from fascinating to a complete catastrophe, as the organism rapidly grows strength and intelligence - with the desperation to prey upon those within its reach.
We spoke with Fergus...SHARE: READ MORE PICK OF THE WEEK
Sunday 17th December
Friday 22nd December
Saturday 16th December