LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS 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 Bill Watterson director of Dave Made a Maze
Posted on Sunday 4th November 2018
At Grimmfest 2017 we had the chance to view one of the most original pieces of cinema we'd seen in a long time, Dave Made a Maze. Directed by Bill Watterson it's an intelligent, thought-provoking film that deserves to reach a global audience and will be released here early 2019. We chatted to Bill about this incredible movie.
HC: Where did this concept come from?
WW: Three places: Steven was underway on a script called 'Operation: Death Maze,' or something cool like that. Portions of it were re-purposed after he jibed with a story I told about my mom coming home and seeing an incredible fort that I'd build in my bedroom, and concluding that I'd gotten lost within it when I d...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Paul Hyett director of Peripheral
Posted on Friday 2nd November 2018 Paul Hyett is a firm FrightFest favourite. His work jumps from genre you genre with ease but still retains that "Hyett" feeling in each piece. His latest work, Peripheral is having its UK Premiere at the FrightFest Halloween 2018 event so we decided to chat to Paul about this and his view on technology.
HC: How did the project of Peripheral come together?
PH: Peripheral was bought to me by the original producer, he thought I'd be a good fit. Originally he had pitched me a one woman in a room, contained location about bad technology theme. It didn't feel appealing as after Howl, which was a big film in terms of cast, VFX, stunts etc and I was looking for a more challenging film logisticall...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Julian Richards, director of Reborn
Posted on Wednesday 17th October 2018
Ahead of the World premiere screening of Reborn at FrightFest Halloween, Julian Richards discusses the torturous challenges of Daddy's Girl, why he wishes every actress was like Barbara Crampton and future plans, including directing the English language remake of Rabies.
HC: After six years away from directing, you have two films, Reborn and Daddy's Girl poised for distribution. Why these two very different films now?
JR: My previous film Shiver was completed in 2012 and it took longer for me to get back into the directing saddle because of commitments I had to my sales company Jinga Films. The company was growing quickly and needed more of my time and energy. We had grown from handling th...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jules Vincent, co-writer and producer of Alive
Posted on Thursday 4th October 2018
Grimmfest 2018 is well underway and delivering some memorable movie moments, and one of the best is showing on Sunday, Alive. This cracking film sees the return of Grimmfest favourite Rob Grant as director and has been co-written and co-produced by Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent. Here Jules tells all about this brilliant piece.
HC: Where did the idea for Alive come from?
JV: We'd talked about writing a horror screenplay for a number of years before we finally came up with the right idea. We're both big fans of classic horror and we love the works of Hitchcock, Carpenter, Friedkin, and Cronenberg so in a way we had a very specific style and feel in mind before we even had the story. A...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Olivier Afonso director of Girls With Balls
Posted on Wednesday 3rd October 2018
Grimmfest 2018 kicks off tomorrow and one of the many highlights of the four day event is the blood-splattered shocker Girls With Balls. We chatted to it's director Olivier Afonso about this fab film and his career as an SFX artists.
HC: What inspired you to write Girls With Balls?
OA: My co-writer and I we wanted to write a trash comedy to entertain an audience because we love festivals: the atmosphere, people screaming, laughing... Personally, I'm inspired by the eighties and nineties movies such as of Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Alex de la Iglesia. We wanted to make a survival movie but with strong women, a girl ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano, the creative forces behind Crystal Eyes
Posted on Saturday 15th September 2018
FrightFest 2018 exposed attendees to horror from all over the world and one that made an incredibly stylish and retro impact was the superb giallo inspired shocker, Crystal Eyes. Here the co-writers and co-directors Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano tell us all about this affectionate love letter to the classics of the 80s.
Where did the idea for Crystal Eyes come from?
Crystal Eyes was supposed to be the third episode of our web-series called No Podras Dormir Esta Noche (You Won't Sleep Tonight) which paid homage to different horror sub genres in each episode, and eventually it turned into a feature film. We love Giallo si...SHARE: READ MORE Exclusive interview with Adam Green, director of Hatchet.
Posted on Thursday 13th September 2018
Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV Premiere of Hatchet on Friday 14th Sept, director Adam Green gives an exclusive interview about his beloved franchise and what the future holds for Victor Crowley...
Hatchet is finally getting its first showing on UK TV, courtesy of Horror Channel. We're excited, are you?
I couldn't be more excited! I've always said that even though Hatchet may have world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, it was at FrightFest in London where "Victor Crowley" was truly born. FrightFest was "the screening heard around the world" and the UK audience was so enthusiastic over Hatchet that every genre festival on t...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tom de Ville, director of Corvidae
Posted on Wednesday 5th September 2018
HC: This is your first short as a director, what inspired you to write this script?
TdV: I read a really interesting article about how smart crows are, in particular how they can hold grudges. Apparently a group of scientists had gone out and harassed a murder of crows whilst wearing masks. If they went back wearing the masks, the crows would remember them and fight back. If they didn't wear the masks, the crows would leave them alone. This made me start thinking about what would happen if someone tried to save a crow from a bunch of kids who were trying to kill it. Would the other crows from its murder remember this? And what would they do to help her?...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Stewart Sparke, director of Book of Monsters
Posted on Wednesday 5th September 2018
HC: Your last movie, The Creature Below was two years ago, what's life been back since then?
SS: Since The Creature Below premiered at Frightfest in 2016 things haven't really stopped for myself and my collaborator Paul Butler. We were lucky enough to have the film released on DVD and VOD in over eight countries under various names. I think my favourite has to be Japan's Leviathan X: From the Deep! The film even had a theatrical release in Taiwan which was quite surreal as it was playing opposite Thor Ragnarok over there so overall, we've been completely blown away by everything that's happened. Paul and I are always coming up wit...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ferdinando D'Urbano actor, writer, producer of The Laplace's Demon
Posted on Tuesday 28th August 2018
A stand-out movie from FrightFest 2018 tested the brain power of those who saw it. The Laplace's Demon is an incredibly powerful piece so we chatted to one of the creatives behind it, Ferdinando D'Urbano.
HC: I'd never heard of Laplace's Demon theory before, can you give us a quick explanation of what it is?
FDU: The Laplace's Demon is a philosophical theory of the early 1800s. Pierre Simon Laplace was a French mathematician who in his work "Essai philosophique sur les probabilites" (A philosophical essay on probabilities), theorized that if there were an intellect capable of knowing al...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Andre Gower director of Wolfman's Got Nards
Posted on Monday 27th August 2018
HC: You had already starred in a lot of stuff before The Monster Squad came along, did you think that this was just "another" acting job?
AG: At the time, it was just that. The next audition, the next project. However, once on set and seeing what you were a part of, we realized quickly that this was something bigger and more unique than anything we had done before or may even get to do in the future.
HC: Were you a fan of the Universal monsters at that time?
AG: I always had an appreciation for the classics even as a kid. As you mature, you keep that appreciation and learn more about it and how it affects the present and realize these were very important...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with John Rocco and Abiel Bruhn the writers and directors of The Night Sitter
Posted on Sunday 26th August 2018
HC: Where did the idea for The Night Sitter come from?
JR: From the beginning of this story, I had my childhood home in Nashville in mind as the perfect location. After several months of convincing, my parents allowed us to film in their house. It's a pretty amazing feeling to have grown up in the same location that we'd eventually film our first feature in! We were able to incorporate all the parts of my house that used to scare me as a child and weave them into a story about witches, which was extremely fun and nostalgic at times. While developing the story, I tried to recall the scary thoughts I had when I was Kevin's age.
AB: Finding an inspiring location (the house has this stran...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Wednesday 28th November
Friday 23rd November
Friday 30th November