My name is Matthew Daley, I was born in Toronto to Mac and Gail Daley and grew up in Brampton, Ontario. As of this period in time, I'm a freelance illustrator and sometime cartoonist. I create illustrations using non bootleg Adobe products combined with found objects and hand rendered textures. I'm currently represented by the nice bunch of folks at Three In A Box. I like my coffee strong, my music loud and the DC universe over Marvel. I will have been married to the lovely Lindsay Gibb five years this summer and our cat is the greatest in the world...
main website- www.shinypliers.com
When did you first decide to become an illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
When I was in the 8th grade I developed a large comic book buying habit. Two books in particular that blew me away around this time were "The Dark Knight Returns" by Frank Miller and "The Shadow" as illustrated by Kyle Baker. I loved to draw from a young age, but by the time I'd become that serious comics nerd, I decided that's all I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Who or what inspires you?
In the past few years, I've been inspired by look created by 50's era illustrators/animators such as Jim Flora, Mary Blair and Gene Deitch as well as modern European illustrators like Olivier Douzou, Nicholas Mahler and Gaëtan Dorémus. I like the balance of "minimalism" with the playful wackiness.
I've also been influenced by disturbing stop motion animation (Brothers Quay, Jan Svankmajer) , Dadaism, great comedy like the Kids in the Hall and Monty Python, the punk rock ethos and bands like the Melvins, The Residents and Devo. Like many people should be, I'm trying to be a better student of immortal words of C. Smaaloochi: "one can either produce or become produce". Words to live by, kids...
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I was a student in the illustration program at Sheridan College from 1994-1997. I learned a good deal about the nuts and bolts of illustration and design while there. I spent the first four years or so after graduation refining what I'd learned and teaching myself how to use software like Illustrator to keep in tune with the industry. I also really became bored with painting, so work on the computer was a new challenge.
How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
I try to keep track of what's in vogue stylistically at the present moment all while trying to forge my own style that I hope's distinct and consistent but not too alienating and that satisfies me as well.
What are some of your current projects?
There's my recurring online strip Mr. Monitor (link) which is up to it's sixth installment. It's proceeding slowly due to the fact that it's my baby and I don't want to half ass it (also my terrible perfectionist tendencies play a part). There's also my blog (link above) which I update from time to time with personal and fun projects. I'm also in the planning stages for a couple of different book projects that I'm collaborating on with friends. We'll either try to shop them or do them DIY, depending on our financial situations when they're finished.
I'm trying to cut down on the gallery shows I've been appearing in, but I've been invited to participate in the "Manimal" show, which is supposed to happen in Toronto at the end of March.
Aside from that, I'm doing regular work for magazines like Broken Pencil, This, Tidings and Taddle Creek. As well it looks like things are starting to pick up in the world of freelance, and I hope I'm not cursing myself by saying this.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
My contribution to the "Lonely Robot" show that took place in the summer of 2009 entitled "A Bot in the Belly", is something I've been proudest of in recent years because I enjoyed the subject matter and i think the final piece had a great combination of absurdity and loose fun. Even though I don't give it the attention it needs, I've been happy with how Mr. Monitor's been progressing and much of what I've been experimenting with while doing that has crossed over to my illustration and design work.
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
I'd love to do something in the world of animation, whether it's a short film based on my own ideas or providing designs for something larger. I still love the medium, although I get the impression that the industry politics are ridiculous. I'd also love to do work within publishing, either graphic novels, kids books or designs for covers. The steady work is definitely in editorial, but I'd love to branch out for sure. I'm pretty comfortable with the media I work in (digital), but there's always some way I can re-work my approach to things to make my technique less cumbersome. It often depends on who's work is really influencing me at the moment.
Any advice to the novice illustrator?
Like any profession it has it's ups and downs and it might take you a long while to become established, but stick with it. Learn how to put your artistic temperament aside when dealing with the commercial aspects of what you're doing. At the same time, keep yourself busy with personal projects to stay sane and to keep things fun. Learning how to juggle art and commerce is a hard skill to master and may not come easy.
Know that being a professional illustrator is a job and you're still working for somebody else, which should be respected. It can sometimes suck the fun out of things, but the beauty of freelance is the ever changing nature of the types of jobs you might receive. Sometimes the jobs might suck and the clients can be frustrating, but there's much worse ways to make money.
If you enter contests, don't get too bummed out if you don't get in. In many ways, I'd suggest skipping those things altogether, since you're spending your own money to have other people judge your work. I admit that I still submit from time to time, but "the recognition of your peers" isn't the be all end all and I often think that I must be doing something right if I'm not getting in these things.
I'm still learning how to deal with all of this myself, so writing this is a good form of catharsis.
What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
If it tells the story it needs to tell and the client is more than happy. In turn, if I'm happy enough to actually want to look at it again, that's the truest sign of success in my books. It's a cliché, but I'm my own worst critic.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
I like to take long walks to break free of my office or turn my computer off mid afternoon. Most of my walks end up at book stores, comic shoppes or the library, so I use them for research or to discover something new and interesting.
Talks with my friend Rich Marsella are great for motivation since he's a multi disciplined workhorse full of great ideas and inspirations. He's had his fair share of setbacks here and there, but none of them have kept him down for any significant period, and they cause him to be even more determined. He also happens to be my favourite collaborator on the "fun" projects I'm so into talking about.
I also try to know when to call it a day if I'm just spinning my wheels or when my body tells me I need to break away and get some sleep. Sleep and healthy forms of procrastination are good for recharging.
I've been learning the drums for the past couple of years, so I'll either schedule a lesson to spice up my routine or go pound the shit out of my practice kit when I'm wound up. I think that's why I still love listening to aggressive music while I work. It keeps me going.
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't an illustrator I would have been a..."
...Toronto Star carrier unsurpassed by any other.
And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
At this moment (winter 2010), I'd say "Death Comes to Town". Once it's finished in four weeks, I'll go back to saying either "Community" or "Parks and Recreation."
Copyright © All text and images are copyright their respective owners