This week’s artist spotlight, Matt Owen, is a Sioux City transplant from Council Bluffs.
He moved here four years ago, works two jobs, has an 8-year-old son and used to be a musician in Bloodcow.
He makes visual art using inks and watercolors and has an eye for horror.
You can find his work on Instagram, Facebook and Etsy @MergerArtWorks.
Weekender: When and how did you start creating art?
Owen: “I started when I was very young. I always knew I was an artist from the time that I started drawing and playing with Legos. What I love to do is create, and that spills out into the music aspect, as well.”
Weekender: What are your preferred mediums?
Owen: “Inks, watercolors, colored pencils and markers…that’s pretty much it. I never got into oils or acrylics because I’ve never been too good at it. I’ve tried jumping into those, but they just weren’t for me.”
Weekender: What inspires you to create?
Owen: “Horror movies and music. I’m a huge music nerd. A lot of things in my personal life inspire me, as well as what is going on in society with current events. There is definitely a horror thing going on with a lot of my art. I was a really big fan of cartoons when I was a kid, as well. Art is an evolution from person to person.”
Weekender: Who are some of your artistic influences?
Owen: “It’s hard to say what comes out in my artwork. I was really into Don Bluth when I was a kid; he is an animator. I was really into Calvin and Hobbes. I got into Marvel and DC comics when I was young. I definitely have a cartoon-y side to my art. Even The Simpsons; I would draw them all the time as a kid. I’d copy the covers of Tales From the Crypt comics. I’m in my 40s, so most of what I was into came out of the '70s and '80s. Arthur Rackham is another influence; he was a children’s artist from the 19th century.”
Weekender: Tell us about the subject matters you like to focus on in your work. We notice a lot of faces and characters.
Owen: “I use characters as a metaphor for what is going on in society today. I’ve done three in my ‘Space Cat’ series, and it focuses on cats, dogs and mice. The mice are representations of us, the common people, and the dogs and cats are the people that are the elitist groups high in the society.
“A lot of the other stuff I do is based on the H.P. Lovecraft mythos. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was another big thing for me; same with Looney Tunes…”
Weekender: What makes you unique as an artist?
Owen: “There’s only one of me, so I guess that makes me unique enough. There are so many awesome artists out there today…they are almost like a dime a dozen nowadays. I would say the thing that’s unique about what I do is the mixed media aspect of my work and that everything that I create comes out of my own head. I’m just a speck of dust in the universe.”
Weekender: Describe a world devoid of art.
Owen: “Oh man…that would suck. I mean, even the way houses look…it’s architecture…art is in everything. I couldn’t even imagine a world devoid of art; there would be art, you just couldn’t call it art. I’d almost say it would be a fascist world we would have to be living in at that point. Everything would have to be plain as hell. It would be so sterile and gross.”
Weekender: What is your creative process?
Owen: “Usually I have these ideas in my head, but I can’t get it exactly the way I want it on the page. I think that’s one thing as an artist I have had to get over. As a perfectionist I needed to realize something would never come out perfect on paper. It starts with ideas, I draw a lot of stuff, and then I pick the idea that intrigues me.
“It is different when I’m doing commissions, but that is based on what the people want.”
Weekender: What kind of headspace do you have to be in to create?
Owen: “Things just pop up. It really has to do with my environment; movies I see, songs I hear, days at work, interactions with other people, interactions with the outdoors, interactions with my pets…I don’t think there is a headspace I need to get to in order to create. I think it’s more about motivating myself to keep working. I don’t pump out a lot of pieces every year, but I draw every day. If you are going to call yourself an artist, then be an artist.”
Weekender: Why do you create art? What does it do for you?
Owen: “I’m compelled to. That’s what my life is about. It’s just what I do. I think that’s why I’m here. I believe every person has what is called their ‘true will’. You can either tap into that and live the life you were meant to, or you can ignore it. I think a lot of other creative people would agree that we have an impulse we can’t control. You need to have a conduit to channel the creativity.”
Weekender: What is your ultimate goal in art?
Owen: “I don’t have one. I’m just going to go day by day and whatever happens, happens. I definitely want to move forward and get into bigger pictures, and even get into merchandising with stickers and T-shirts. I hate setting too many goals for myself. Usually one thing leads to another and the art happens.”