Local Artist Exhibits Work

Sharp Lettering Will Be At Shoobridge Mill Today

Chloe Evans || July 29th

With Leek based artist Matthew Sharp hosting an exhibition today in Shoobridge Mill, we were keen to find out more about the illustrator.

I would class myself as a freelance graphic artist who specialises in hand lettering. I cover a lot of basis from printmaking, commissioned illustrations to commercial graphic design. As the majority of my work is commission or design based I have a rough idea of the outcome before I start. So my work doesn't normally have a reason other than to send a message, it is more about the aesthetics of the message I try to portray.

Is your work inspired by real-life situations?

My biggest inspiration has to be the fact I love what I do and as it is for anyone who is self-employed, I am my own boss. I wouldn't have pursued my passion to create artwork if it wasn't for my friends and family constantly telling me that my work is worth doing. They have always inspired and pushed me to keep following my dreams. With this I am also blessed to have parents that support whatever I do. I now have a lot of friends who are in the creative industry and just talking about work and making stuff is enough to boost me to design/ create. Throughout my whole life I have enjoyed the countryside; the natural forms, the smells, the sounds and that sense of freedom. I think this plays a big part in my work.

Have you always been interested in your specialisms or have they developed over time?

From a young age I have always enjoyed drawing but I only found the love of contemporary illustrating about six years ago and illustrating lettering about four years ago. I haven't stopped developing my styles or ways of working and I believe that I never will. Because if I stopped striving to get better then I think I would get bored of working at the same level constantly. You have to always be developing your creative processes to get as good as the guy who is better then you. The development and progression of my practice is what I most enjoy about being creative.

What kind of items do you use to upcycle for use within your work?

Don't get me started on up-cycling things! I am the guy that will take a 15 minute detour home because I saw a skip there earlier, a mild hoarder of useless crap. I am love trying to up-cycle objects to create work. Any type of wood to put lettering on, making pens and brushes out of whatever I can find and just putting my work on anything at all that I can get my hands on. I do try to do it in some sort of professional manner. I would like to get back into some collage work just to use up all of the misprints, discarded illustrations and old magazines/books.

Do you have a particular style that you prefer working in?

Lettering- Contemporary blackletter or messy script

Illustration- Rough ink drawings

Design- Anything with loads of typography or a bit of digital collage.

Favourite medium?

Good old pen and paper.

Have you any plans for expanding in the near future?

My first plan is to leave my at-home studio to set up in a business premises with full screen printing facilities, and to start sourcing work from further afield. Soon I plan on setting up an online shop but having a physical one is the dream. I would love to work from and run a shop in the center of a city but this is not an immediate goal of mine.

Have you had any memorable responses to your work?

Every time I create a piece of work, I can tell that the person I made it for truly loves it. That’s one of the best feelings and each one of them makes my job so good.

Are there any artists that have really inspired you?

For many years Ralph Steadman has been a massive inspiration. Now people like David Smith and Jackson Alves inspire me.

So about your exhibition...

I wanted a professional setting to document my work and because I have only been back in Leek for a few months I thought it was a good way to let people know I am around.

How have you found the process of setting up an exhibition?

Finalising work to put up in the exhibition has been very difficult and I am yet to put anything up yet but I am sure that’s the easy bit. I have been to plenty of exhibitions but this is the first one I have set up, I'm not even sure if I have done everything right. Never the less it has been loads of fun but a lot of hard work, constantly thinking and planning. I don't think it would have gone so well if I hadn't of had all the help from a few friends and family.

What kind of work will you be showcasing?

I will be showcasing 23 one off ink illustrations painted with a toothbrush, they are very messy and wild images of different animals; what started off as a couple of pictures for birthday presents turned into an exhibition.

Do you have plans for holding more exhibitions locally?

I would like to plan on doing a live screen printing event on both t-shirts and paper. This is something that I think would go down well around here.

What are you hoping to achieve from this experience?

As selfish as it sounds I am mainly doing to for the publicity and a reason to get together with friends/like-minded people and have a beer.