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Meet Matt Warren of PAPER 8

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Warren.

Matt, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Ever since a family vacation to LA in 1994, I had always wanted to someday make this city my home. I’m from Guernsey, an Island off the coast of France that is approximately 24 Sq Miles. I craved to be in a big city, somewhere I could get lost, surrounded by other creatives and where opportunities were in abundance. I studied undergraduate Fine Arts at The University of the West of England in Bristol, before making my way to Los Angeles to undertake my Masters at OTIS College of Art and Design.

After graduating, and a lot of back and forth between here and the UK, I obtained an ‘artist’ visa which allowed me to live in the States and pursue my artistic career. My art practice has always been influenced by, and referenced American Pop Culture, and upon moving back, I started a new series of drawing which, over time, became my business.

The ongoing series observes the function of Hollywood movie poster design, with each poster dissecting a particular film’s narrative through a singular image, a keyframe, which encapsulates the film in a familiar, yet unexpected manner.

Done entirely in pencil, the film is framed in a fresh way, via the re-imagined design, whilst keeping its nostalgic essence. I now have an apparel line, PAPER 8, which features my designs and I sell them out of my studio, print shop and retail space in Silverlake.

In 2016, I originated my own contemporary clothing line, PAPER 8, which features my pencil drawn designs, on crisp white T-Shirts and Sweatshirts. This summer I opened a storefront located at 716 N Virgil Ave, in the up and coming Virgil Village area of Silverlake.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t think it’s ever smooth being a creative and trying to follow your path. For me, the biggest struggle was fighting for my Visa to move back here, and then to stay in this country after my studies. Once I managed that, I then had to figure out a way to make money within the structure and limitations the visa offers. But ultimately these challenges forced me to push myself, as I didn’t have a job to fall back on. I had to re-evaluate my art practice and tailor it specifically into a career I could make a living from.

Now that I have a business and specifically a storefront, it’s been a learning curve in terms of how to manage myself. I draw the designs, I print the t-shirts, I manage the shop, the accounts, and continue to try to find ways to build my brand and its products. It’s been humbling in bringing my weaknesses to the surface, and trying to think more business-like about addressing the aspects of my job that I don’t like, but have to do – I’m better at holding myself accountable.

Doing all this myself, its easy to get overwhelmed and put too much pressure on myself, so I’m learning to have better boundaries between my work and personal life, and also acknowledge it’s o.k to ask for help and lean on friends and family for support.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
Joining my two passions of art and film, my business organically grew into what it is today. It started with exhibiting the original series, then selling prints at the Melrose Trading Post, then getting a few t-shirt samples done at a customers suggestion, and then last year when it all felt a bit stagnant, I decided I needed to take a risk if I was going to push myself to the next level, and I invested in my own t-shirt printer which gave me the opportunity to print on demand and enabled me to get my own space. After testing out the idea of a retail space downtown for six months, I was lucky enough to get my current location, which is what I’m most proud of.

My apparel features my movie poster designs, in addition to a more recent series of ‘character posters’ which combine an image with a quote from a film, on a typically colorful background. I’m continuing to add new designs and branching out into different styles – a newer series continues my exploration of the ‘star’ system and its channels of distribution and consumption, specifically their influence and exploitation via social media. This series features badly illustrated, yet instantly iconic, replications of celebrity Instagram posts drawn on post-it notes, which mirror the throwaway nature of celebrity culture.

My designs resonate with the public, as they are based on pre-existing material which is already in the pop culture lexicon. What sets it apart from other apparel which references these same movies, is the unique individualism of the designs. They are all hand drawn by myself, and I have a personal attachment to each of the films, and the specific scenes that I illustrate. You can see the detail of the pencil marks on the shirts, and I think people like the idea of wearing their favorite movie, or scene on a shirt, which also doubles as an art piece where you can see the time and the love that has gone into creating it.

Through my use of Hollywood iconography I create a hybrid of art and cinema which is not only visible through my illustrations and apparel designs, but the store itself. Acting as an art installation, VHS players and dismantled TVs are utilized as shelving, and featuring a wall stacked with VHS cases which double as packaging for my shirts, the store captures and gives an insight into my unique take on Hollywood.

The store is an evolution of my art practice and this series of work. Walking into it is almost like walking into my private DVD collection, and my childhood, and it’s great to see peoples reactions when they do. It is my studio, my print shop, my retail space – by being inside my shop you really get to understand the process and the concept of how these t-shirts are created. It’s all incredibly personal to me, and people love how unique it is, and hearing the feedback is the most rewarding part of this venture.

What were you like growing up?
I was always a little introverted and spent a lot of time in the art classroom drawing at school, and getting lost in movies at home. Those aspects of my childhood clearly had a big impact on me and had combined as I grew older to form my current career.

Pricing:

  • T-Shirts – $32
  • Sweatshirts – $50
  • Prints – $20

Contact Info:

  • Address: 716 N Virgil AveLos Angeles CA 90026
  • Website: www.paper8apparel.com
  • Phone: 3109402545
  • Email: info@paper8apparel.com
  • Instagram: paper_eight


Image Credit:

Ramon Christian, Savannah Sjostrom

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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