@studiocatherine Not in the slightest! Our printers just require a little extra time.
Finding a balance between commercial and personal design projects can be one of the hardest parts of working as a designer, so it’s always encouraging to meet a designer who has made it work. Matt Taylor is creative director of animation and motion graphics studio Sixty40, but has also successfully managed to follow his talent for drawing vikings to produce his very own comic book.
Returning from a graphic novel workshop in Florida was just the push he needed to begin work on his book, Lars the Last Viking Goes to the End of the World and he is now treating Sydneysiders to the book’s launch combined with an exhibition of the few of the scenes. desktop caught up with Matt to find out more about the project and how he balanced it with his other work commitments.
Hi Matt, you’re a comic book artist, illustrator and character designer, as well as creative director of Sixty40. How did you get to this point in your career?
I went to art school in Canberra where I read a lot of Tank Girl and drew comics. Moving back to Sydney I worked in a few studios before we started up animation and design company Sixty40, 11 years ago. Last year I attended a graphic novel workshop at the Atlantic Centre for the Arts in Florida, run by master artists, Paul Pope, Craig Thompson and Svetlana Chmakova. Their work and the other 24 artists from around the world also there got me psyched about the possibilities of comics and made me totally fall in love with drawing again.
What prompted you to embark on your comic book Lars the Last Viking Goes to the End of the World?
I had been working on my great Australian zombie love epic for three years at a writers’ workshop and then this story just popped out in a few hours after a few different random occurrences got me interested in Vikings. I read more about them and thought it would be funny to write about the Last Viking, whose brothers had all raped and pillaged their way into stable relationships.
What are you most proud of with this project?
In drawing this book, I’ve done it largely without computers which is different to how I work most of them time. I drew it in ink and brush, and the pages are all two and a bit times bigger than the printed version. It felt tough and was very rewarding working big and by hand.
Did the book launch evolve into an exhibition or was it always meant to be combined?
As there isn’t really a comic book industry in Australia, to quote Public Enemy, “You gotta do whatever you gotta do to survive.” It’s a comic book launch and a display of all the work behind it – I think people get a kick out of seeing the original pages and it brings a new appreciation to the book.
What do you find is the best solution to balancing your time between commercial and personal projects?
Give yourself plenty of time and warn your friends you won’t see them for a few months.
How important is it for designers to donate time to personal projects?
Tremendously important. In the end you’re judged on the work you do and often commercial work won’t let you flex those muscles. If you want to try something different you’ve got to do it on your own time.
What is next for you? Another comic book?
Yeah I want to get back to my zombie story, will also be working on a short film proposal for Lars. It’ll be good to see how this all pans out. I’m also going to go with my family to Hawaii on a holiday and not draw Vikings for a while.
Head to China Heights (Level 3, 16-28 Foster Street, Surry Hills) at 6pm on 18 August for the exhibition and book launch of Lars the Last Viking Goes to the End of the World. Graphic novelist Pat Grant will officially open the launch. The exhibition runs from 19 to 20 August.
All images copyright Matt Taylor.