Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Reynolds.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m an animator/artist/teacher from the Bay Area; I grew up in Mill Valley, California in the dewey shade of redwood trees and Mt. Tamalpais. I left for the other side of the country to study art and filmmaking at Bates College in Maine, which included a semester abroad at the FAMU Film Academy in Prague where I was introduced to the animated films of Jan Svankmajer and other Eastern European visionaries. I tried to channel that Czech proclivity for dark humor and existential vulgarity into my work after college through grotesque mask sculptures and sisyphean animated fables: Work which I was able to exhibit in Portland, Oregon and Berlin.
After serving coffee for three years in Portland and trying to level-up in animation through YouTube tutorials, I decided it was time to go “legit” and I entered into the Experimental Animation program at CalArts for my MFA. There I fell in love with hand-drawn animation and made three short films that got me some Vimeo Staff Picks and attention at SXSW, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, AFI Fest, and Annecy in France. Since graduating in 2016, I’ve been doing freelance commissions for clients like The Atlantic, Adult Swim, and TED Ed while also holding down a couple of different teaching jobs. Recently I completed an artist residency at The Camera Obscura Art Lab in Santa Monica where I was able to meld my sculpture work with animation and I am hoping to continuing in this vein.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Getting out of Portland was a bit of a challenge, but getting into CalArts helped move things along.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As the sole proprietor of my freelance animation services, I’d say my specialty is “WTF-able” 2D animation. I say that based on about half of the YouTube comments on anything I release – Even things that I perceived as relatively tame! I’m glad that potential clients that reach out usually want to hear what ways I envision making the project stranger; I feel proud that I’ve been able to establish an advertised conviction in my own flavor of weirdness.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is convincing a viewing audience to be more open-minded and hungry for human complexity in the art they consume. If I make an animated short, commercial spot, or artwork that inspires someone to be more curious about similar work that toes a line between horror/humor, or beauty and the grotesque, then that’s a big “W” in my book.