Male artist series day 5: Matt Dorfman + Nerd Boyfriend blog

Matt Dorfman
Hello dear readers. I hope you’ve enjoyed the male artist series this week. Before I introduce you to genius Matt Dorfman I want to show you one of my new favorite blogs that seems appropriate for this week, nerd boyfriend blog. It features all things your nerd bf or husband (mine) might be into from digital watches to famous nerdy but cool men like Frank Lloyd Wright & David Bowie. I have amazing posts lined up for next week when I’ll be in California. Look for guest bloggers Lisa, Kelly, Kate, Jenn, and ghost posts from me.  Also check out my husband’s 75th podcast, I’m his guest. Now for Matt Dorfman!

Matt is a designer and illustrator and minor publisher living in New York. He presently works in the creative dept. of Universal/Motown/Republic Records during the day and laments the slow death rattle of the music industry by freelancing for various publishers and publications by night. His clients include Penguin, New York Magazine, WIRED, Mother Jones, the ACLU of Philadelphia, Viking, Razorbill, Plume, Business Week and The New York Times among others. Matt’s work has been recognized by the AIGA, American Illustration, the Society of Illustrators and the Type Director’s Club. He has a wife, but no kids. He has a wheel, but no truck.

And now for the interview part where we get to step inside Matt’s clever brain:

When you were a kid what were your artistic inspirations?
Sharks, trains, zombies, zippers and judges. I’m not kidding about the judges. I was initially drawn to their long robes and air of authority. As a kid I extreme difficulty drawing folds in clothes so I got frustrated very quickly and, with much regret, abandoned my pursuit of most judicial-based art. I still draw sharks and zippers, though.

What are your main inspirations now?
My two main sources of inspiration are items that don’t necessarily mix together; those items being baseheaded human behavior and mutability. In terms of content, nothing gives me ideas quicker than cracking the newspaper open in the morning and reading about all of the filthy, horrific things that humans are doing to other humans on a regular basis. I’m interested in the motives behind human behavior and how those motives are best represented visually. Regrettably, the news provides more concepts and suggestions than I’ll ever need.

I’m drawn to the idea of mutability in more of a day-to-day, life coach sort of way. I’m consistently impressed by artists and designers that are able to transform their style at will so that each piece that they make is a departure from the previous one. To me, it demonstrates a broadly excavated sense of experience, research and appreciation. At present, I think I have the appreciation part down, but am still coming up short with the experience and research parts. I keep trying to change my style up from assignment to assignment and I keep failing!

What has been your favorite project to date?

I do a good bit of self-initiated work in addition to the design and illustration that I get paid for. My favorite self-initiated project would be the invite that my wife Jill & I concocted for our wedding last year. It was a long, narrow poster folded up and sent in a standard sized 5×7 envelope. The invite was as long as it was because we dated for 8 years between multiple states and various distances before we got hitched and we decided that a long courtship deserved a long invite. We used it to tell the extremely abridged version of how the twists and turns of our 5-year long-distance relationship turned into a proposal. It was extremely satisfying to have a real-life experience translate so directly into a piece of design that people responded to almost immediately.

My favorite freelance project that I’ve contributed to thus far is for a book cover I worked on for Penguin called Somebody Else’s Daughter. I was called in late to work on it after a few other attempts at finalizing a cover hadn’t panned out. Since the cover was already late, an approval was required very quickly so when the publisher didn’t bite at my first few rounds of comps, I figured all was done and dusted. Remarkably, I was contacted about a month later and was put back to work on it. The project was in a perpetual state of being rushed, yet on and on it soldiered. All told, I submitted between 50-60 comps over 3 months, made some of the most questionable design choices and photo selections I’ve ever committed and the cover that was ultimately selected was done by a different designer. In terms of ego and doubt, it was one of the more bruising assignments I’ve had thus far, but I learned more from that than I have from many of the subsequent projects that have gone smoothly.

What would your dream project be?
To re-design Jerzy Kosinski’s entire back catalog WITH pictures, commentary and whatever interviews could be compiled. Either that or found and manage a miraculously profitable gallery cum workshop for artists and designers. Since our present economy isn’t necessarily demanding that either of those things be born right now, I’ll hold fast to dreams for the time being.

Besides paper what other surface would you most like to see your work printed on?

Tabletops, furniture and shelving! It’s difficult for me to think how my work would apply in settings beyond a domestic environment, but I’m working on fixing that.

Favorite artist of all time?
Ed Ruscha, William Eggleston and Raymond Pettibon all walk into a bar…


Thanks so much for stopping by today Matt. Readers if you did not catch the rest of the series check out Christopher David Ryan, Dan Funderburgh, Tom Forget, Dan Zvereff, and of course Matt here (here’s another Matt post, and another).

Have a wonderful weekend and tune in next week for guest posts much better than what I come up with daily.