31 July 2020

Meet the Artists – Matthew Cook

Posted in: Artists, Editorial, Food, Illustration, Meet the artist, Painting

There are probably few who have seen the sights that Matthew Cook has seen, even fewer who have documented them through drawing. But there is only one person who has rendered them in exquisite detail, capturing the character, the excitement and the mundanity with perfect draughtsmanship. That person, as you can probably guess, is Matthew Cook.

Wimbledon, Afghanistan, Ascot, North Korea, The Highland games; these are just a few of the places and events that Matt has been dispatched to for clients like The Times, Royal Mail and Conde Nast Traveller. Whether the subject of his illustrations are specific buildings, people or events, Matthew’s work retains the candid quality of a photograph, giving you a window into a specific moment in time that feels alive thanks to his emboldening colour washes and wonderful use of lighting.

We spoke to Matthew about being old school, audiobooks and evening runs…

Where do you live?

My house is in-between a church and a canal in Bath, Somerset.

Where is your studio located? 

I’m in an attic room, and just about to move in to a garden studio, by the canal. I’ll get no work done, as I’ll just watch the boats go by.

Can you describe your creative process?

All jobs are different, but usually an emailed brief and phone call. A long hunt for reference and ideas, followed by pencil sketched roughs. I’m old school, so it’s a painted final version in acrylic inks, but maybe a bit of tweaking once it’s scanned.

What does a typical working day look like?

Coffee. Walking our youngest to school (when they re-open) then getting those emails and phone calls done. My deadlines seem to be fast, so I have several jobs on the go and work out what needs completing first.

I’m working a lot for the US at the moment, so I can get on with drawing before more emails come through at lunch time. My wife works from home so we meet up for great lunches, then back to drawing until about 7pm. Evening run with friends, then family meal or BBQ.

Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?

Audiobooks, audiobooks and more audiobooks. Spy thrillers at the moment.

How long have you been with the Artworks for?

Twenty something years. Straight after travelling the world.

What drew you to Artworks?

The personal feel and the small number of great artists.

What books or programmes did you love as a child? Have they influenced your work in any way?

My dad had a book from his childhood called The Colour Kittens, that I loved. Two kittens went in search of mixing green from every paint tin they came across. Now you mention it, I still struggle getting the green I really want.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?

Soldier, geologist, explorer all combined.

What was the most important lesson your learned at Art School, if you went!

Drawing all day is great.

What inspires you the most to create?

Travel and curiosity

Name three artists that you admire.

Eric Ravilious, John Piper and David Hockney.

What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?

Drawing on location… but that hasn’t happened for a while.

What would your dream commission be?

It came true in 2003, when The Times sent me to draw the war in Iraq; a hire car, a pocket full of dollars, body armour, no brief, no plan and no map.

Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?

A VERY old black cat called ‘Kicia’ with one white whisker.

What 5 things could you not live without?

Trees, toothbrush, running shoes, a deep bath… oh, and my wife and kids. I think friends should be in there too, but what a tough question.

What is your very favourite meal?

All Thai food, but Pad Thai if I have to pin it down.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Orienteering, shooting, caving and eating pad Thai, all on the same day.

What is your current dream travel destination?

Papua New Guinea, but Bristol will do until Covid-19 dies down.

To see Matt’s portfolio, click here.