Tuesday, 7 June 2011

An interview with surf artist and creator of The Ryde, Matt Allen


Matthew Allen is an artist and designer working out of Southern California. Having worked as Assistant Art Director and Art Director at Surfer Magazine, he now works freelance and on his clothing project The Ryde. The Ryde is an epic mix of art and clothing, so if things couldn't get better we can now wear Matt's incredible creations.
Matt's personal work is really great, he uses an eclectic mix of the best parts of both surfing and art to create a yummy feast for your eyes. He combines fine, detailed lines and larger, bolder prints but each with his own unique Matt Allen stamp on it.  Did I mention he's pretty nifty with the camera too?


Personal site: www.mattallen.com
The Ryde: www.theryde.com




So who are you?
I am a designer, illustrator, musician, surfer, brother, son, and friend.


Your art has a really unique style about it, where do you get ideas and who/what inspires you? 
I think my ideas come from paying attention to the world around me. Just really trying to be aware of the things that catch my eye as I'm going through my day. Lately I've been inspired by turn of the century graphics and clothing styles and how they have aged. I like the look of things that are lived in.



Do you have a particular process you go through when creating your art?
Once I have an idea I have to figure out the best way to execute it. Because of this my style shifts a bit. I think that is what makes me more of a designer than an artist. Having one style of illustration is not versatile enough for me.
Some of my designs come straight from my head but often I will work from a photo of some sort. I'll use the computer to get it sized the right way, print it out and take it to my light table. I use a pencil and tracing vellum to mark out the design and sometimes I'll experiment with a couple of different styles to find the right one for the design. Once the style is set and the look is right I'll use either pencil, a pen, or a brush pen on another sheet of vellum or paper to create a more refined version of the art. Then, when things are in order I will scan the art and touch it up in the computer.


Tell us a bit about how you go into photography:
I fooled around with cameras in college but I kind of abandoned it when I lost my camera. I didn't get back into it until later. About a year and a half ago I had a couple of fairly serious injuries that kept me out of the water. I was looking for a way to stay inspired and I began heading down to the beach on my lunch breaks to shoot photos. I started getting some shots that I was pleased with and that got the ball rolling. The more I shot the better I got and, in turn, the more excited I was to shoot.


Is there any particular camera that you like to use the most?
I really like my Diana F+ but I recently bought a Lomo LC-A+ and I've been having fun trying to figure it out. I bought a water housing for it and that is a new adventure. Just last week I stopped by Malibu on my way up the coast and spent some time shooting from the water. The only problem was that I forgot to put the batteries in the camera. All was lost. But I learned a good lesson.


Tell us a bit about The Ryde:
The Ryde is basically my creative outlet. We make clothing of various sorts. Mostly t-shirts and boardshorts. I just try to pour whatever creativity I have into it and hope the end product is something that someone else can get excited about wearing.


What is it about surfing and the ocean that tickles your fancy?
Surfing is a little bit of an adventure every time you head for the coast. You can surf the same spot everyday and not quite be sure of what you'll find when you get there. Waves, wind, tide, people, boards, everything is always in flux. I like that I am immersing myself in a bit of a sensory overload. The feeling of getting a good ride is pretty awesome too. It is like a gift and an accomplishment at the same time. I really feel like I only need one good one each time I go out. That is often enough. Another great thing about surfing is that it is an immensely enjoyable way to get a little exercise. 





What do you think it is about surfing and art which collaborate so well together?
Surfing combines things that people are visually attracted to. Nature, motion, emotion, athletics, the human body and design. Take any of these things on their own and they are worthy of artistic expression. Surfing manages to bring them all together. One thing that we also have on other athletic activities is that the equipment we use (surfboards) are pieces of art themselves. Surfing can also be a fairly romantic and nostalgic pursuit. Surfers love to tell stories and art is a great way to do that.


Tea or coffee?
Chai Tea please.


Favourite meal?Right now I've been eating a lot of grilled Mahi Mahi tacos from Baja Fresh. I realized that I needed to get more protein in my diet and those tacos taste amazing and are really good for you.



Have you got any projects or collabs up your sleeve?Right now I'm working on building a Grain surfboard and fixing up my 1978 XS750 motorcycle.


Where can we expect to see you in the future? 
Gosh, I don't know. I'm not really much of a planner. I really love what I'm doing now so I'd be happy to continue on the path I'm on with a few pleasant surprises mixed in there.

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