Matt Johnstone is an illustrator-maverick and Central Saint Martins Graphic Design graduate. His works are an explosion of details and illustration of his obvious talent. Inspired by the natural world and comedy, and combining traditional techniques and medium with digital tools, Matt creates intense illustrations of fantastic worlds full of ideas, colors and creatures. He is also known for his skills in cartography; no wonder Matt is good at it with his love and attention to details.
1Granary would like to thank Matt Johnstone for sharing with his work and we wish him the best of luck!
Who are you?
Matt Johnstone. I’m an Illustrator and Designer based in London.
Who would you be if you lived on another planet or in a fantasy world?
I’d quite like to be a creature that sleeps lots but can fly too, maybe a bit like a Sloth with wings.
How was it to be a CSM student?
I did BA Graphic Design and met some great people that were fun to be around. I didn’t particularly flourish during my time as a CSM student if I am honest, but it did help me stumble on the path of developing my work. By exploring lots of avenues I think I realised what my work was not rather than realising what it was if that makes sense. I was finding my feet at that stage, and I only really realised my strengths when I was right at the end of the course, with a few drawings that have evolved into my illustration style now. When I left, I felt I had a determination to make something of myself in the creative industry, which I didn’t particularly feel before I started the course.
Any cool projects you done at school that you go back to even now?
I draw a lot of bespoke hand-drawn maps nowadays, which had kind of originated from a Greenpeace poster illustrating deforestation that I drew for the D&AD student awards while at CSM. I was always interested in drawings with lots of elements and little details that you had to search around to find. After I left CSM, a design agency in Brighton saw the illustration and I was commissioned to draw a map of Brighton for a pub company, which has led to lots of other commissioned cartography projects.
Matt’s Greenpeace poster illustration for the D&AD
Are there crazy and fun stories you would like to share?
Nothing too crazy.
What are your most cherished memories?
Our trip to New York was a great experience.
CSM kid is…Only as good as the work they create and hard work they put in!
What is your background and why did you choose graphics/illustration?
I did an art foundation course at Brighton City College, which was brilliant; we did a bit of everything and I was interested in Graphic Design as well as Illustration. I didn’t particularly know which to choose, as I wasn’t sure I choose something that was quite broad to keep my options open. I always tried to follow the path that I enjoyed the most and I gradually became more excited about drawing, so followed that route. I also had fun learning animation for a short period and would like to revisit it at some point in the future.
Which techniques/media do you use, what is your most favourite?
I mostly use traditional techniques to start my illustrations, sketching in pencil and then finalising the linework, using fine liner black pens, ink or markers. After scanning the drawing, I apply the colour digitally and assemble different elements to make the final illustration.
What and who inspires you?
The two most prominent things that have inspired me recently are the natural world and comedy series. I like watching nature documentaries and seeing the weird and wonderful creatures that exist, it inspires me to design my own creatures to add into my scenes. Watching comedy and listening to humorous audiobooks also inspire me to create silly sketches, a lot of which don’t really see the light of day, but kind of influence the tone of my work and they might turn into something in the future.
What are you working on now?
I am illustrating a map of Kingston (London not Jamaica) for a Theatre company, which takes centre stage.
What is your art to you?
I see myself as a commercial illustrator and designer, my art is a way to both support myself financially and to fulfill my creative ambitions. I love drawing and aim to make a living out of something I enjoy and to get a balance of personal and commercial work feeding off each other.