By Johnny VonGnarly
Known as Matt Sabbath due to his passion for the iconic band Black Sabbath, Matt Wilkins, a native of London who now thrives in the lively city of Barcelona, is an accomplished professional illustrator. His unique style seamlessly blends bold lines, vibrant colors, and psychedelic themes, making him stand out in the world of kustom kulture.
Matt has left an indelible mark on the design landscape, creating striking shirts, posters, album covers, and logos. His artistic journey spans a decade, with legendary skateboard artist, Jim Phillips, playing a significant role in influencing his formative years.
“The way his work was so bold, eye-catching, and classic definitely had an effect on how I wanted to create art,” stated Matt.
While rooted in London, Matt made the strategic decision to relocate to Barcelona four years ago, drawn by his deep appreciation for the city’s culture, architecture, and favorable weather. This move has proven to be rewarding, providing a conducive environment for his creative endeavors.
“For a while I said that one day I’d make the move out here and four years ago I went for it, luckily it turned out to be a real good decision,” said Matt.
In a nod to the dynamic nature of contemporary art, Matt draws inspiration from various sources beyond his field, citing painters, tattoo artists, and others as influential. Artists like Logan Maxwell Hegege, Julien Jaca, Austin Maples, and Simon Gyllstrom are among those he admires.
A notable aspect of Matt’s artistic journey is his collaboration with Heavy Thread, a UK-based merch brand. This partnership allows him to focus on commissions while Heavy Thread takes charge of production and worldwide distribution. Matt hints at exciting upcoming releases under this collaboration.
Matt’s clientele spans the globe, with commissions pouring in from various countries. Reflecting on his experiences, he emphasizes the uniqueness of each project, with a special mention of designing for the official Waylon Jennings store, a surreal moment for a long-time fan.
When asked about his dream client, Matt stated, “It’s no secret that I’m a big Black Sabbath fan, so getting to do art for them would be the dream!”
The connection between Matt’s art and motorcycle culture is evident, with Harley Davidson motorcycles prominently featured in his work. Currently owning a Yamaha chopper, he expresses a desire for a new build.
“At the moment I’ve got a Yamaha chopper that I built a few years back that’s sitting in a garage in the UK at the moment. I need to try and find some time to get it running again. Despite a lot of my work including Harleys, I’d love to build an old Triumph pre-unit into a killer little chopper someday,” stated Matt.
Primarily employing pen and ink for line work, Matt has embraced digital tools for color and layout purposes, especially in projects like t-shirt designs and album covers. Occasionally exploring painting, he keeps it separate from his primary pen and ink work.
As a self-taught artist, Matt navigated early confidence struggles, gradually building a distinctive style resonating with a global audience. Reflecting on his journey, he emphasizes the importance of self-confidence and continuous improvement.
“I’ve always drawn as long as I can remember, but I didn’t really see myself having a career in it. I ended up going down the route of studying to become a carpenter, but when the commissions started stacking up, I decided to fully focus on art. I was realizing that people were into my stuff. That gave me the push to focus more on improving and honing my own style,” Matt said.
The motorcycle lifestyle holds profound significance for Matt, shaping not only his artistic identity but also fostering connections with like-minded individuals worldwide. He attributes much of his success to the diverse experiences and opportunities the motorcycle community has provided.
Open to diverse commission ideas, Matt may turn down projects significantly deviating from his established style but remains flexible, often finding ways to incorporate unique concepts into his work.
When asked about encountering occasional creative blocks, Matt states that he overcomes them by stepping back, working on other projects, seeking inspiration, and returning with a fresh perspective.
Looking ahead, Matt envisions his art business evolving organically. Grateful for the support of those commissioning his work, he remains focused on honing his craft, viewing each piece as an opportunity for improvement. While refraining from rigid future plans, he expresses a desire to continue enjoying his artistic journey and embracing whatever comes his way. Ultimately, his long-term goals include continuous improvement, engaging in exciting projects, and showcasing his work in more exhibitions.
Matt concluded, “I’m so thankful to everyone that commissions me and let’s me do what I love every day and make a living from it. I try not to plan the future and just let life happen. At the moment I’m digging it here in Barcelona, so we’ll see how it goes.”
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