What is most fun about having art night, and do you find it to be more inspirational to create around other artists?
Art Night started 2 1/2 years ago as a way to work on art with some close friends. Since then, it has grown into a much larger and more diverse group of artists. Some nights we have up to 15 artists and we rarely have fewer than 5 or 6. Because schedules can conflict occasionally, we have a rotating crew of regulars who join us. Past Color Ink Book alumni include Phillip “Sumbody” Eggleston, Ben Walker, and John “Super Ugly” Williams as part of our crew. It’s great to have this weekly meeting to converge all these different styles, backgrounds, and experiences. It is also a chance for younger, new artists to work with some experienced professionals. Art Night guests range from illustrators, painters and sculptors to musicians, filmmakers and photographers. We share ideas, network, eat snacks and talk shit. We even get some work done. I am pleased with how important Art Night is to the people who are involved. We are always looking for more recruits.
I do find Art Night to be very inspirational, though I am more creative on my own time. Art Night helps me balance inspiration with creativity.
Where do you find your inspiration for your art?
My inspiration for the work I create comes from so many different sources. A short list would include, “Low Brow” art, skateboard art, comic and cartoon art, classical and modern art, pop culture, music, old master print makers, and Victorian engravings. When I do the ballpoint stuff, like the work I submitted to you guys, I tend to lean a lot on the Victorian/print maker style.
Tell us something about the iconic rat that you draw?
That is the 136 rat. I use that image a lot. It’s like a symbol or signature at this point. The rat started as a caricature of my pet rat Chloe that I had about 6 years ago. My sister gave me Chloe when my mom moved in with her. My mom was fighting cancer at the time. At the same time, my best friend Tony was fighting skin cancer. Tony visited me often and got to know Chloe and loved her. Inspired by Chloe, Tony decided to get a rat as a companion while he fought his cancer. Tony was a fantastic artist and a big influence to me. When my mom and Tony passed, the 136 rat became a representation of those experiences I was having at that time. My 136 rat means many things to me still. Death, hope, remembrance and endurance are a few of the things I use the rat for. I render the rat in vast amounts of environments and experiences.
Do you own, or are you owned by any animals?.. Types and names please.
Yeah, I have a cat. Her name is Marceline and I’m infatuated with her. I think she’s my soul mate.
You do so much fantastic ballpoint pen work how did you discover this talent?
I love the ballpoint pen. Especially the blue ink pens. Ballpoint pen ink is capable of rendering various lines and tones. It’s my favorite tool to do an etching or engraving type of look. The ballpoint pen is perfect for my tweaked Victorian hackwork! It is an absolutely unforgiving tool that allows for very few mistakes. The ballpoint pen requires discipline and patience. It’s humbling. I hope some day to get a real grip on this medium.
Skate or die??
I’m still doing both. Slowly.
What tunes are on your top ten playlist?
I can only answer this for what I’ve been into lately. I listen to so much stuff, that my list constantly changes. I can’t remember song names so I’ll list 10 artists that have been in rotation lately. 1. Tom Waits (always on the list) 2. Eric Dolphy 3. Dessa (Doomtree) 4. William Elliot Smith 5. Aesop Rock 6. The Builders And The Butchers 7. Charlie Hunter 8. Bat For Lashes 9. Yeasayer 10. Kate Bush (always)
Is there a favorite movie that you have seen lately?
“ATL”. It’s rad. It’s about the rhythm skate/roller skate (O.G. quads!) scene in Atlanta, Georgia.
Can you tell us what the 136 in matt136 is?
The 136 is a random number actually. About 6 years ago I looked my name up on the Internet and the Matt Ritchie that came up was an artist from New York. Exact same spelling. Being an arrogant ass, I was worried that if I started to post work, people would think we were one and the same. After a while I realized that changing my working name was ridiculous, but by then it kind of stuck. Now I go by either Matt Ritchie or matt136.
Favorite all time video game and favorite board game?
Easy one. Video game: Advanced Wars 2 for Gameboy. Board game: Scrabble. I really don’t play a lot of games though.
What are your favorite tools of the trade?
My 2 favorite tools of the trade are my scroll saw and my Pilot blue ballpoint pens (0.5mm).
Anything you want to mention that I didn’t ask with my lame line of questions?
I just want to say super huge thanks to you guys at Color Ink Book for your interest and support. Also, thanks to all of my Art Night compatriots for whose talent that is shared at my home is a tremendous gift. Also, Love to my super little family unit, Michelle and Miles Ritchie. Finally, a big high fiver to Patrick “Easy P” O’Connell, because that kid is solid gold.
Sandwich or Burrito ?
Mr. Sandwich edges out Dr. Burrito 51% of the time.
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Interview by Adam