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ITW – Matthew Wigglesworth, the pure simplicity

Matthew Wigglesworth is a skilled and sincere artist, but he is also a daddy of four little boys. He never does too much but the purity of his art reflects a simple personality who prefers very often to forget the details, which he describes as distracting. His personal history leads him to focus on the essence of things and his environment. Through his art, the artist gives us a beautiful life lesson that inspires tranquility and serenity …

 

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Hi Matthew! You love sports involving sliding or gliding, and art. Which one entered your life first?

When I was young I was quite shy. So when I first went to school I just used to cry a lot and feel overwhelmed. I guess the teachers took pity on me, I remember them giving me crayons and paper so that I could sit quietly in the corner and draw. It made me feel calm and I loved it. But equally, some of my earliest memories are of travelling around Europe with my family. We had relatives who lived in Cannes, in the South of France. We would go on road trips every summer to see them. I always spent a lot of time in the sea on those trips, body surfing waves and having fun. I started surfing nearly 30 years ago and was instantly attracted to the surf culture and vibe which for me, always included art. So really they came as one, both a passion and both equally part of me from very young.

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Are your illustrations based on real people or are these characters completely fictional?

Both. I get inspired by all kinds of things and places. I collect a lot of images that inspire me on a blog. Favourite types of surfboards, surfers, styles and colours that are related to surf culture. So I use them for inspiration. I also surf and travel as much as I can. In those places I’m always looking for a certain surf scene that inspires me and that resonates with the culture that inspires me too. Either from the experience itself or from a photo or sketch I’ve taken or made, like the ‘Happy Sebastian’ illustration. I was surfing around the Basque region in 2015, I’d just come out of the surf and saw this guy walking along with his sIngle-fin and puffy hair and moustache and he just looked cool. So I quickly took a picture and then used it for inspiration for some art. It’s like that really. I can sit and sketch until an image forms, imagine surfers or look at a pic and that’s it, I’ll create some art.

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I know you’re a father to four boys: are you a family man or more old-school? Do you teach them how to draw and surf?

I love my boys and they are all so different and I support them in all their positive choices. Obviously being an artist and surfer, I try to encourage them to adopt that lifestyle too. I buy them surf related clothing and hardware and stuff, but I’m flexible. In the summer we are all out in the line-up together. My youngest called Noah, who is six, hangs out on my board with me. Eli who is eight likes to bob up and down in the water with his fins on, he’s like a fish and I can never get him out of the water. Kai is thirteen and tags along on his board as does my oldest Kalani who is fifteen. Kalani surfs with me often and we have a great time together. He’s always asking to come surf with me instead of go to school.

Occasionally I’ll take him out of school if it’s going off. Often though Kalani & Kai get home from school and see my wetsuit hanging up to dry and be like, “man, dad went surfing again” and then sulk because they didn’t get to go haha. Kai is more into football than surfing which I’m learning to tolerate. Eli is my artist. He’s such a romantic, and he is the most creative one. He is always drawing and has loads of little books. Often at night I will look into his room, way past bedtime and there he is sketching away, creating little doodles. I try to get all my boys out of the house and into nature, biking, walking, surfing, skateboarding you name it. Ultimately though it’s their choice, their vibe and as long as it’s positive I’m there to run them around and support them. I’m a family-man type of dad haha. I’ll do anything for my boys.

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You used to work in finances, why did you decide to drop everything for illustration?

That was a tough choice money wise. I got paid well in the corporate world of finance but the lifestyle sucked. Ultimately I just felt like I didn’t belong in that world and I was unhappy. I didn’t enjoy the conversations, the ambitions, all of it felt so fake, so shallow and so wrong to me. I wanted more meaning in life rather than just money. At the time I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist, and illustrator, I just knew I wasn’t living my true life and I had drifted from those things because society tells you and guides you into this fake view of what success means. I spent a long time, like years, searching, praying, meditating and just trying to figure out what I loved to do. It was obvious but sometimes you lose touch of your creative side and the simplicity life offers. It’s easy to look back now and see that surfing and art have always been a key in my life, but you get lost, you know? I’m still figuring stuff out but I feel like my life makes more sense now. I’m poorer, but richer in so many ways which are so more important. I feel more peace now.

How would you feel if you saw someone in the street wearing a t-shirt with one of your designs on it?

Stoked! I’d be all shy about it. I wouldn’t go up and say, “Hey bro, I did that!” haha I’d just nod and be stoked with a big smile on my face. I’d probably feel emotional about it.

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Your drawings feature very simple lines, soft colours and ooze serenity. Are they reflections of their creator?

Yeah I think ideally they are. I love simplicity in life and in art, well in everything. I am very particular about things. I spend ages on the colours for my illustrations until I feel it has the right vibe I’m feeling. Really the best way for me to describe my art is this: imagine being at the beach and let’s say you see someone walking by with their surfboard underarm. So after looking at them, close your eyes and try to describe what you saw. You’d see the surfer and their surfboard as an outline and some detail and some colour but not everything. You’d miss things, lots of details. What you’re left with is the essence of the scene in your head, of what you saw, of the memory. That’s what I draw and I try to keep the vibe happy, positive and as you say, serene. I take most everything away that doesn’t need to be there, distracting you from the main motion of that illustration, that moment. I try to live the same way. Be present and try to take away what doesn’t need to be there. I spent a lot of time practicing yoga and meditation. I aim to be a positive person and to be peaceful with other people and my environment. Ultimately, I try to be a reflection of my art, the world I create and want to live in. I’m quite happy to stay quiet for days and days.

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Have you ever thought about moving somewhere where the water is warm, the sunshines every day and the surf spots are better than in the United Kingdom?

I’ve surfed all over. The East and West coast of America, All over Europe, Australia and Asia. I dream every day of being in warmer climates and water. I love France and Spain and go often because it’s nostalgic for me, I could live there in a heartbeat. I’d love to buy a little barn and convert it and build boards and illustrate artwork and fix up an old van. I could totally live in France. However, my wife is from Australia, so we are planing on moving to the East coast in a couple of years. We plan on travelling around Europe and the States before we go though. Have some adventures that our boys can get stoked about. Get stoked on life and then spend the rest of my days in the sun and sea. Thank you and namaste.

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Buy now the Matthew Wigglesworth’s tees !

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• Find more about Matthew’s work on his Instagram account


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