Matthew Judd is the owner and artist for 213 Art where he produces handcrafted and digital works of pop art, stencils, and superheroes. He’s been stallholder for the Old Bus Depot for over 23 years. His fifth and latest venture, 213 Art conveys charm and light-hearted appeal that feigns from the bustling routine of previous businesses. We talk to Matthew about the freedom he’s found as an artist and how he found his niche with what he calls “bloke art”.
“I just wanted to simplify my life again and I had a fascination with pop art and pop culture,” says Matthew. “It’s good that the markets is there which allows businesses of my size to exist.
Comic book images are Matthew’s element – black edges, black lines, or a three-colour stencil that produce black, white and a mid-tone to create a bit of shadow and depth. It’s understandable then that a custom order for Mark Weber’s Formula One race car posed as a sizeable challenge earlier on. Still, thanks to his vast experiences having run a number of retail stores, he’s able to sell art that he believes in. But it took some time to place a finger on what exactly his art looked like.
“I call it “bloke art” because it’s really designed for guys.”
Heartbreak and a a crying lady were the early pop art displays for 213 Art. It gained a bit of traction with female customers, but the appeal was rather narrow. After giving cute animals a try, Matthew preferred to be honest with his interests. It was a call to create the things that he himself would buy – superheroes and a variety of pop culture.
“I call it “bloke art” because it’s really designed for guys,” says Matthew. “Men tend to like pictures that look like something.”
“I’m painting The Beatles at Abbey Road at the moment. It looks like Abbey Road. It’s a stylised version of it, but it’s pretty obvious what it is.”
Although there’s a lot of work to be done, Matthew enjoys the process and there’s excitement to be had from the variety of works that he ends up producing. This is thanks in good part to custom orders.
“I probably have 23 paintings that I have to do at the moment, just for orders,” says Matthew. “Other artists refuse to do orders, but to me, it kind of pushes you in a different direction. You paint stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily paint, you learn from it, then get better at what you do.”
“When doing custom work, a picture is key,” Matthew continues. “Finding random inspiration is not a guaranteed success and there’s nothing worse than painting something to somebody and seeing their face drop with a disappointed look in their eyes when you actually show it to them. I’ve certainly had my experiences.”
“It gave me a lot of confidence to keep pushing forward because that one really took me out of my comfort zone.”
Asking for a specific image or letting them pick from a sample generally guarantees success. Posterisation through Photoshop are other tools to achieve a look of photorealism.
Over the years Matthew had photographed his paintings and printed them into A3, A4, and A5 prints of what he’s hand-painted. This adds an extensive range of prints to his arsenal allowing him to open to lower price points. An A5 print is priced at $10 dollars whereas a five-metre canvas is priced at $350
Practice certainly makes perfect. He recalls having done a stencil of a Star Wars Stormtrooper 200 times that he can now produce in 25 minutes. A hand-painted couple kissing in space suits took 14 hours.
“It was very early on when I started and I didn’t know if I could actually achieve the result that I was aiming for before I started the painting,” says Matthew about Mark Weber’s Formula One race car. “I never painted a car and it turned out really well.”
“It did give me a lot of confidence to keep pushing forward because that one really took me out of my comfort zone. From doing that, I realised that I could actually go outside to that level and achieve the look that I was looking for. It really did push me to better myself at what I do.”
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