The Science Museum – Robots exhibition

Matt Blease has provided illustrations for the new Robots exhibition at the Science Museum in London. You can see a selection of them below.

Matt Blease does the robot

Matt Blease has provided illustrations for the new Robots exhibition at the Science Museum in London. You can see a selection of them below.

Rather than focusing on the mechanics and technology, the exhibition looks at the ways robot builders have attempted to mimic and mirror humanity. It goes back to a 16th century mechanised monk, includes many famous robots you’ll recognise from films, and features some of the incredibly human-looking creations of recent years. And in the process it provides insights into our own position in a rapidly changing world.

Robots runs until 3 September 2017 and is already being touted as one of the events of the year. The Guardian called it ‘a treasure trove of robotic delights’, while The Telegraph mentioned ‘a truly mind-bending array of humanoid imagery’. So clearly, the Telegraph journalist had spotted Matt’s work.

You can see more for yourself by going to Science Museum

 

Wrap

Greetings from Matt Blease and Wrap magazine

Greetings from Matt Blease and Wrap magazine

Matt Blease has just created a series of greetings cards for Wrap magazine. Wrap magazine is produced twice a year by Chris and Polly Harrison. The magazine acts as a showcase for their range of greetings cards and stationery, created in collaboration with some of the world’s most talented contemporary illustrators. Their stationery is sold in over 300 shops worldwide, including Tate Modern, the Barbican, Selfridges, Liberty, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, MoMO PS1 in New York, Oliver Bonas UK-wide, as well as many independent book and design shops around the world, and on their site at wrapmagazineshop.com

Through their hard work, Chris and Polly have built Wrap into a very successful small business. And it’s still growing, with all of its products made in the UK, printed by letterpress using only the finest materials, and with full consideration for the environment.

We spoke to Matt about his collaboration with Wrap, and whether greetings cards are a new direction for him.

Is this the first time you’ve created greetings cards?

Yes, well in an official way, anyway. I’ve been known to knock up the odd last minute card from time to time.

Did you find it a challenge?

No, it was really fun project. The hard part was trying to whittle it down.

Is it something you’re going to continue with?

Let’s see how they go down first!

How did the collaboration come about?

Ah, yes! This is a really funny story actually. They emailed and I said “Okay”.

How much say did you have in the materials and processes used?

Right from the start I knew that the finished cards would be single colour and letter-pressed. So it was quite nice to have some tight perimeters. 

Will the cards be available to buy?

They should be up on The Wrap’s site by late January, I understand.

Were you already aware of Wrap magazine?

Of course! I’m a big fan of their output.

Have you bought any of their cards or wrapping paper in the past?

I have. They are one of the few people that do the card/wrapping paper game well. They have a certain vibe that somehow keeps things from ever feeling naff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYT_1280x900

The New York Times Magazine

Matt Blease has a couple of new illustrations that appeared in Sunday 15 January’s The New York Times Magazine, for a piece by journalist and novelist John Lanchester on the way the world might be if cash were abolished. The illustration shown here refers to the Indian government’s recent controversial decision to withdraw a fair part of the nation’s currency.

Matt Blease on the money

Matt Blease has a couple of new illustrations that appeared in the Sunday 15 January issue of The New York Times Magazine, for a piece by journalist and novelist John Lanchester on the way the world might be if cash were abolished.

The illustration shown here refers to the Indian government’s recent controversial decision to withdraw a fair part of the nation’s currency.

THE NEW YORKER_CMYK_1920x800

The New Yorker

Matt Blease illustrates for The New Yorker and their feature – ‘Our Automated Future’, by Elizabeth Kolbert

Matt Blease illustrates for The New Yorker and their feature –  Our Automated Future, by Elizabeth Kolbert

How long before you lose your job to a robot?

To read the article in full see www.thenewyorker.com

AnOther

Matt Blease illustrates for AnOther and their online feature – How to Find Yourself in The Supermarket

Matt Blease illustrates for AnOther and their online feature – How to Find Yourself in The Supermarket

‘From existential crises to encountering new cultures, we track the highs and lows of supermarket shopping’

To read the feature in full go to AnOther

Text: Rebecca May Johnson

Photographic Editor: Holly Hay

 

Google

All together now – Matt Blease and G Suite

Matt Blease has recently collaborated with Google for their launch of G Suite, via Anomaly New York.

G Suite is a set of intelligent apps created to encourage more business collaboration. It includes G Mail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, and is designed to aid communication and sharing between employees, with real-time collaboration built in from the start. Information can flow freely between devices, apps, people and teams, allowing new ideas to flourish without being lost in hidden corners.

Google teamed up with several illustrators to bring their idea to life, including Matt. Matt took inspiration from the idea of refusing to be limited by our silos, to create a moving image piece that illustrates people literally breaking free of their work silos, and finding creative new ways to join together.

Matt clearly enjoyed working on the project: “It was an honour to be invited to work with such an iconic name, one I see on my computer screen every day. And to find myself featured alongside other artists whose work I admire. Great fun.”

Not that Matt’s ever been one to sit tight in a silo. So, let’s see whether he makes use of this new technology himself to leap into new collaborations. Watch this space.

Cobble Wobbles in Belgium

Cobble Wobbles in Belgium

Matt Blease – An Illustrator’s Guide to the Ronde

Matt has spent August cycling around Belgium, following the route of the Ronde de Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) with his brother Tom, a Devon-based cycling mechanic. Originally, it was an excuse for the two to spend some quality time together, but Matt also took time out each day to create an illustration which he posted on Instagram. These illustrations will then be collected into An Illustrator’s Guide to the Ronde. We caught up with Matt to ask him how the trip had turned out.

How are you feeling?

Considering what we’ve been riding, I’m feeling pretty good!

What was the reason for the trip?

My brother lives in Devon and I’m in London. We love riding together, but rarely get the opportunity to do more than a weekend ride a few times a year. This whole thing was really just an excuse for us to hang out.

Tell us a little about the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) road cycling race.

The Tour of Flanders is an annual cycling race held in Belgium every spring. It’s now been running for over 100 years. Along with Paris – Roubaix, it’s considered one of the most important ‘cobbled classics’ in the cycling calendar.

Where does the route take you?

We arrived by ferry to Calais at about 4:30am and headed towards our first stop, Oudenarde in East Flanders. From there we followed the route of the Tour of Flanders before dropping back down into France and riding sections of the Paris-Roubaix race. Once we arrived at Roubaix we couldn’t resist doing a few victory laps of the Roubaix Vélodrome, I’d like to think we were the first rack bikes on the track!

Why did you choose this route for your own cycling trip?

There’s so much history and prestige related to the route that when we were talking about possible destinations this seemed like the one that would give us the most satisfaction. Although it’s one of the most challenging races within cycling, spreading it over three days meant we could hit all of these incredible cobbled climbs, but still manage to have a smile on our faces at the end of it.

Are you a keen cyclist?

Yes, I love riding and it’s a huge influence on my work.

Did you have to train for the trip?

Yes, I’d been training lots. I had a fairly strict schedule that I tried to stick to for three months prior to leaving. I was doing regular hill reps in preparation for the climbs. When you’re training it sometimes feels like you can’t see the benefits but it all really paid off when I was on the bike. More importantly, I changed my diet in a desperate bid to not look like a sausage in Lycra.

Was the trip inspired by your work with cyclewear brand Rapha, and your recent #morethanarace illustrations for the Tour de France?

Not directly, but it was great to come straight out of the Rapha project into this trip. It meant that my head was in gear (no pun intended) and I was feeling inspired by the incredible performances during the Tour.

Were you actually racing, or just taking your time?

Ha! Interesting question. We were taking our time, but there were plenty of moments when sibling rivalry snuck in and one of us would try to outsprint the other.

How tough is the route?

At times it was incredibly tough. Some of the cobbled climbs (like the Koppenberg) hit a 25% gradient. You’ve just got to grit your teeth, know that you’ve put the training in and keep on pedalling. Seeing some of the locals fly up with such ease put my dreams of being a pro into perspective.

Did you struggle with the cobbles?

When we hit the first section of cobbles I felt like I’d never be able to draw a straight line again! I quickly learned to keep a loose grip and hit them as fast as I dared – this seemed to be a technique that worked for both me and my poor bike!

Tell us a little about your bike.

I took my cyclocross/adventure bike. It’s built up around the Brother Kepler frame with carbon Ritchey Cyclocross forks, canti brakes and 33c tyres (we both rode Challenge Almanzo which were amazing). I had a rear rack with a dry bag for all my kit.

How useful was it having your brother Tom, a bike mechanic, along?

He really was a legend. If it wasn’t for his Mr. T ‘bolting something together from nothing’ attitude I’d probably still be inching my way down the Koppenberg climb on foot.

Did you have any disasters?

I had ten punctures over the trip, not a disaster but, considering my brother had none, it was pretty frustrating! I guess I must have been riding harder than he was (sorry bro). 

There was a moment on the side of a French motorway that I’d rather forget. Let’s just say that you should always double check the GPS… if it feels wrong, it probably is!

What did you see along the way?

Lots and lots and lots of ghost towns! Our trip was during a national holiday, which meant that so many shops, petrol stations and villages were almost entirely abandoned.

We had a couple of thirsty moments when we were saved by friendly farmers and their hosepipes.

What were the highlights of the trip for you?

The Geraardsbergen climb was incredible. So picturesque, so brutal, but so rewarding. I’d go back there just to ride that again.

You were documenting the trip with daily illustrations. Did you manage to keep that up?

I did, just about! In order to meet our timings we had long, gruelling days in the saddle. I’d try and sketch ideas down when we stopped for a coffee or had mechanical issues, but most were drawn once we had got to our destination and I had a beer in hand.

You’re planning to collect these images in An Illustrator’s Guide to the Ronde. What’s the format for this collection?

Whilst I was away, I filled a sketchbook up with drawings and notes about the journey, weird scenarios that we found ourselves in, some hectic moments, some hilarious and some other-worldly!

I posted a few pieces during the trip but the others will be worked up a little and collated together to form a bit more of a narrative about the ride.

What’s your next adventure going to be?

We’ve been talking about a bikepacking trip to Skye, and also trying to figure out how we can make a trip out to the USA happen.

Are you thinking of entering the race next year?

Ha! No, not until they spread it out over three days, and provide plenty of beer.

Images: A visual diary from Matt showing both a selection of his drawings and photographs from the trip. Enjoy!

 

Rapha #morethanarace

Matt Blease has been working with leading cyclewear brand Rapha, creating illustrations for their celebration of the Tour de France, #morethanarace.

Matt Blease has been working with leading cyclewear brand Rapha, creating illustrations for their celebration of the Tour de France, #morethanarace.

Rapha has been making high quality cycling gear since 2004, and is the kit sponsor for the British cycling team, Team Sky, as well as several other major names in the sport.

As always, Rapha wanted to mark the world’s greatest cycle race this summer. And they’ve done so in style, with events at Rapha Cycle Clubs and pop-ups, in their stores and online. They chose Matt to illustrate every aspect of the campaign, and you’ll see his work in posters and window displays in their stores, in printed form, and all over the stories, competitions and updates on their social media and website, rapha.cc

Matt uses his trademark graphic style on the illustrations, which are made all the more striking by the yellow background, referencing the colour of the famous leader’s jersey. At the centre of the campaign is Matt’s highly original map of the route, hinting at many of the Tour de France stories which were published day-by-day on Rapha’s site.

Matt Blease_I'd rather be riding_Low

Sketching from the saddle: Belgium by bike. Supported by Rapha

Sketching from the saddle: Belgium by bike

Supported by Rapha

15–21 August

15 – 21 August

This summer, Matt is getting on his bike…

It started as an excuse to hang out with his brother and ride around the Belgian countryside, but the idea has evolved somewhat since then. In August, the Blease brothers (illustrator Matt and Devon-based bike mechanic Tom) are embarking on a meticulously planned cycling trip following the Ronde van Vlaanderen (aka the Tour of Flanders) around Belgium.

They’ll still be sharing some quality time, of course, but Matt is making room in his super-light luggage for his sketchbook, pencils and camera so he can document the trip with a daily series of illustrations from the journey, while Tom uses his skills to keep the wheels turning.

Matt’s updates from the road will be posted every day on Matt’s Instagram, and ultimately collected into An Illustrator’s Guide to the Ronde. 

Matt’s Instagram is @mattblease

Esquire USA

Matt Blease worked on ‘The Truth About The Future Of Cars’ feature for Esquire USA and their April 2016 issue.

Matt Blease worked on ‘The Truth About The Future Of Cars’ feature for Esquire USA and their April 2016 issue.

Flatspot

We talk to Matt Blease about his recent collaboration with Flatspot.

We talk to Matt Blease about his recent collaboration with Flatspot.

First up, Matt, how did the collaboration come about with Flatspot and were you already familiar with the brand?

Yes, I’ve been a Flatspot customer for a long time and I’ve always really been into what they do. Weirdly (in a planetary alignment/cosmic vibes kinda way) we’d both emailed each other about working together at exactly the same time. 

Whilst working with them on another project (coming very soon) we spoke about collaborating on a deck series and ‘Deal With It’ was born.

You’ve created three designs (shown here) for the boards: Rosette, Trucks and Grabrail – can you talk us through each, and also tell us a bit more about the Deal With It concept?

Designing deck graphics is probably the best job in the world. Even though the brief was totally open you are obviously restricted by the shape of the deck and knowing that the trucks and wheels will eventually cover up part of the image. I filled a sketch book up with concepts, I knew I wanted to use a restricted colour palette with a white base colour and to keep the illustrations as bold and graphic as possible.

Over the years my favourite deck graphics have always had that subversive skateboarding humour going on. I wanted to create something that makes people do a double take. I love seeing the ‘Trucks’ and ‘Grabrails’ decks set up. They really come to life.

As part of the collaboration you were also asked to draw live, at their Percy Street London pop-up store, to create a large-scale mural (image shown here). Can you tell us more about the visuals you created for this?

I rarely work at this size so I gave the piece a suitably pretentious art name ‘Thoughts On Skateboarding’. It’s a collection of illustrations I’ve been working on, loosely based around the world of skateboarding. 

Finally, are you yourself a boarder and are there any particular skateboarders out there that you admire?

I don’t skate anywhere near as much as I’d like to. There are so many inspirational skaters out there, especially people like Mark Gonzales who, for me, is the living embodiment of where art meets skateboarding. I’m always inspired by any skater that is older than me and still ripping, keeping me on my toes and that dream alive!

See more of the collaboration at Flatspot

Matt’s decks can also be bought online at the above.

Matt Blease_AnOther

AnOther

This month Matt Blease created a series of fragrance characters for AnOther’s ‘Illustrated Notes on Spring Scents’

This month Matt Blease created a series of fragrance characters for AnOther’s ‘Illustrated Notes on Spring Scents’

To see all the illustrations in full, go to AnOther

Matt in conversation with Catherine Ince, Curator, Barbican Art Gallery

Matt Blease in conversation with Catherine Ince, Curator, Barbican Art Gallery’Building the world of Charles & Ray’

Matt Blease in conversation with Catherine Ince, Curator, Barbican Art Gallery’Building the world of Charles & Ray’

MB:  First off, I have a confession to make. I am a total Eames fan-boy. I had been counting down the days till this exhibition for almost a year. I made a somewhat awkward blag into the private view, got told off by the security guard for sneaking a picture (rightly so) and have been back twice since, wearing my Eames OfficeTM pin badge with pride.

I love the exhibition. I’ve been recommending it to anyone willing to listen. It really brings together and celebrates the Eames’ incredible, multi-disciplinary output. As a curator, where on earth do you start with building ‘The World of Charles & Ray Eames’?

CI:  Well, part of it was wanting to follow in the context of the Barbican programme, wanting to reflect on 20th century practice, and particularly designers and artists who represent an interest in many different disciplines. Their work still feels incredibly relevant, timely and part of something one should be looking at today, with what’s happening in the world right now.

For many people the work of the Eameses is still largely understood through furniture. They don’t even necessarily know that Ray was a woman and not Charles’s brother, as is often assumed.

I curated a show about the Bauhaus a few years ago and when talking about what might follow, we naturally had lots of conversations about protagonists of the 20th century. I have always been very interested in the Eames’ work and felt like there was much more to say, and that it wasn’t just about furniture design and mass production, but there was a philosophical ideology that runs through everything. Their position on education and history, on the material world, on ideas of science and technology, particularly during the middle of the 20th century, and the impact of the computer.

I was also a huge fan of their films and the way in which they used visual media to communicate their ideas or represent their thinking. So we decided that it would be the right time to reflect on them, to tell people who knew nothing about the Eameses something about all aspects of the practice, and to tell people who knew lots about them things that they hadn’t thought about before. So, that was the starting point. Where you go from there is always a long and interesting process of enquiry – trying to distil what you find in a body of work you feel represents what you want to say.

I spent a long time exploring everything they made and establishing what original artefacts still existed that could be included in the exhibition. The Eames’ archive is principally in three places: the Library of Congress, with the estate, and at Vitra Design Museum. Their body of work is enormous but many projects and stages of the production process only survive in photographic form. This raised questions as to how one might represent their projects and ideas through different means: by commissioning new models or thinking through different modes of representation in the absence of the original object.

MB:  I noticed that many of the exhibits were from private collectors, which I imagine must be a logistical nightmare. Was there anything that you had wanted to include that you were unable to acquire?

CI:  That’s a really interesting question. Yes, any show like this will have a significant number of lenders and there are a lot of practicalities that go with making exhibitions, such as availability of an object, its condition for travel and display, institutional loan processing etc. And as I said, a lot of time is spent simply trying to unearth artefacts and sometimes it’s difficult to find what you’re looking for. We spent a considerable amount of time trying to find a complete unbound set of Arts & Architecture Magazine for which Ray designed the covers in the 1940s. The last one was only finally agreed for loan two weeks before the opening of the exhibition.

The Eames were so prolific in documenting their work, taking photographs of projects and furniture. As well as being an incredible resource it offers a tantalising record of things that don’t exist anymore. A lot of the three-dimensional models that they made are lost or destroyed. You probably know what it’s like, in the process of working you don’t start to build your archive for posterity, you just work. And while their studio in California was fairly sizeable, there wasn’t always the means to keep large-scale architectural models. One lost 1:12 scale model of the IBM Pavilion Ovoid Theatre intrigued me because photographs show they were testing their ideas for the multi-screen presentation by projecting into it using multiple film projectors. I felt it was as important to communicate their research and development processes as well as the final production or object. The model was also very useful to communicate the scale of the project. Their use of models and modelling ideas became a thread through the show.

MB:  As an illustrator I was so happy to see Saul Steinberg’s cat painting on the LAR chair. Do you have a favourite design or project in the exhibition?

CI:  I’m a huge fan of Steinberg and it’s kind of sad that some of the other drawings he made in the studio disappeared, so it’s great to have both chairs there as the only surviving artefacts.

My favourite piece? It’s really hard to answer that question because there are so many good things. I’m a little bit in love with the study of the plywood nose cone section of a glider plane, and it’s one of the first objects you see when you enter the exhibition. And I rather like the whale that sits in relation to that, floating in the sky in a way that it sometimes did when on display in Herman Miller’s showrooms.

I’m really pleased with the way that the triple-screen slide show comes together in the exhibition. I think both Charles and Ray possessed a phenomenal eye and were really great editors. They captured the world through their photography and then put the individual images together in pairs and trios to make a more meaningful whole and suggest connections and relationships. I really wanted to have more triple channel slide shows in the show, but we ran out of space! There is so much in their film and photography work that is visually sumptuous and provocative and expressive. I like seeing through their eyes.

MB:  All things mid-century seem to be enjoying a renaissance, from the production design of film and TV series such as Mad Men to the DSW chair being the go-to item for contemporary interior designers (they have even made an appearance in McDonalds!). Do you think that the timing has helped with the success of the exhibition? Or did you choose to stage the exhibition now as a response to the current appreciation of the mid-century aesthetic?

CI:  It wasn’t a motivating factor, no, but it’s undoubtedly contributed to the exhibition’s success. The aesthetic of the show is something quite different. It doesn’t have any of that pastiche-y element. I think it feels very contemporary.

MB:  For Charles and Ray it seemed that the boundaries were fluid between art, design, film, architecture, technology and education. Their multi-disciplinary approach was ahead of its time and not dissimilar to the way that people within the creative industries work now. What do you think it is that makes them still so relevant?

CI:  I think it is about that attitude. They were very admiring of craftsmen or people that had a deep knowledge or skill with a single material or technique. They absolutely mastered and developed their own techniques and tools to make supremely good objects. But they were also interested in the bigger picture, and that is what really resonates today. They were curious about everything and encouraged interest in the world. When you read their writing or notes on projects that’s what you come away with.

There’s an often-quoted statement about the Eames’ desire to reach as many people as possible with their early furniture designs. They felt very strongly, especially at the end of their lives, that the same principle applied to public institutions, large corporations and broadcasting agencies. That these organisations had a responsibility to share and distribute their assets and knowledge with as many people as possible. That this sharing of information – about history, technology, science and culture – was critical to human advancement.

MB: Today we are so concerned with the work/life balance. Charles and Ray famously didn’t see a distinction between the two. Is there a lesson for us all in this?

CI:  They often talked about taking satisfaction from the process of work itself and not the end product, and quoted this passage from the Bhagavad Gita in the introduction of their 1958 Eames report to Nehru, the Prime Minister of India:

You have the right to work but for the work’s sake only; you have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working. Never give way to laziness, either. Perform every action with your heart fixed on the Supreme Lord. Renounce attachment to the fruits. Be even-tempered in success and failures, for it is this evenness of temper which is meant by Yoga. Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrender. Seek refuge in the knowledge of Brahman. They who work selfishly for results are miserable.

When you are able to take such immense pleasure from what you do (including the challenges and stresses) it becomes impossible to see an artificial division between life and work. I don’t know if everyone in the office always shared their view, but their philosophy certainly proved rewarding.

 

They Made This

Matt Blease recently spoke to They Made This.

Matt Blease recently spoke to They Made This.

Arriving at illustrator Matt Blease’s studio is like discovering a whole part of London you never knew existed. Situated on the Thames and overlooking the Millennium Dome, I arrived on possibly the sunniest day of September and happily acted like a tourist, getting my phone out taking photos of the incredible view. Matt, having just completed his morning commute which involves travelling across the river on an old police boat, invited myself and photographer Cat Garcia on a tour of the lovely compact studio he shares with his partner, the designer Anna Walker.

To read the full interview see They Made This – Matt Blease

All photos by Cat Garcia

Rapha

Matt Blease produces illustrations for The Doppio. Rapha’s outlet for reporting on bicycle racing.

Matt Blease produced a set of illustrations for the Doppio, Rapha’s outlet for reporting on bicycle racing. The Doppio is usually printed and marries playful visuals with pithy, insightful copy. At this year’s cycling road world championships in Richmond, Virginia, Rapha printed and handed out three editions of the 20-page newspapers, with a total print run of 100,000. They reached out to collaborate with Matt because they wanted a truly special commission to be the front cover of the final edition.

Matt’s illustrations accompanied a great piece of writing by former racer and now writer Joe Parkin on an infamous moment in American cycling history, when the enigmatic, tortured Michel Zanoli punched American hero Davis Phinney at the climax of a race in Richmond, Virginia over twenty years ago. As a brand Rapha were proud to be able to publish content of the highest standard, combining excellent writing with Matt’s creative, impactful artwork.

To read in full see Rapha

G2 Cover

The Guardian

Matt Blease illustrated today’s Guardian G2 ‘Text on the beach’ cover — 23rd July 2015.

Essays feature illustration for The Escapist Journal

Monocle

Matt Blease illustrates the essays feature for The Escapist Journal for Monocle Magazine.

The DIY Cook Cover

The DIY Cook by Tim Hayward

The DIY Cook by Tim Hayward. Cover illustration and illustrations throughout by Matt Blease. The new book from Tim has been described as ‘An Enthusiast’s Guide to the Classics: Lobster Thermidor to Rarebit, Steak Diane to Trifle, The Very Best Bouillabaisse to the World’s Greatest Sandwiches’ Its out on the 6th August. Publisher: Penguin