Matthew Hopkins: Inside the Artist’s Studio

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Inside the Artist’s Studio

What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding: Matthew Hopkins

Derrick White

“The number one thing driving me is seeing someone’s face light up with a smile when they first view a piece. I take great satisfaction in knowing I had a part in that smile. Something is rewarding in it,” describes artist Matthew (or Matt) Hopkins.

Matt was a self-taught artist from the age of six until he decided to use his G.I. Bill after his service in the U.S. Navy to attend college in 2012. He attended Tyler Junior College and earned an associate degree in visual communications/graphic design and an associate degree in art. He remembers, “I began drawing at the age of six when I saw my two older brothers doing so and wanted to be like them. It started with me learning how to draw Garfield, and by middle school, it was comic book covers, rock album covers, and skulls. Skulls were the first thing I learned how to draw from my head. I was poor growing up and Wal-Mart used to have poster display cases. My siblings, friends, and I would peruse them for hours. I could not afford one, but I could afford a Bic pen and poster board. That is when my life as an artist took off.”

Matt travels to conventions, comic cons, and other venues to show and sell his creations and connect with others. He states, “My favorite style is more of a comic book look. Yet, I can do anything from cartoon to realism. Most of my pieces are pencil, pen, and ink. I taught myself the comic book method early on and still enjoy the aesthetics and processes. I have recently gotten into alcohol-based markers for color. However, I also find enjoyment in charcoal and acrylic painting too. It depends on my mood or the wants of someone who has commissioned me to create something for them. When I do art shows, I do what I refer to as ten for ten, which is a quick pencil and ink sketch illustration and I charge $10 for a ten-minute piece. This is fun and a great way to meet people.” Hopkins relishes collaborating with individuals. He expounds, “I simply enjoy taking someone’s concept and desire from their head and putting it on a page. I want that smile of course, but also want them to be able to see something they had rattling around in their head come to life on paper or canvas. I also think artwork with a good story behind it makes for a great piece. Knowing the origins of some works has made me appreciate them more.”

When asked about some of the good things art brings to Matt’s life he replies, “Purpose and meditation. Art is cathartic for me and helps with the stress and anxiety I feel at times in my life. Hours can simply pass without me knowing and helping to put my angst into the paper. Also, I believe I was put on this earth to be an artist and to make people happy. I have also made great friends while in school, who I still stay connected with, and people at art shows.” As far as some of the frustrations that come with leading a creative life, Matt answers, “Artist block. I imagine I am not the only one on this. I have since developed techniques to get through this better, but it is frustrating. When the doldrums hit, and I feel like I lack inspiration it can be seriously stressful. Another is a personal one, I think it is humorous too. I will spend hours upon hours on a personal piece and think it is one of the best I have ever done but the feedback from others is just okay. But then I will turn around, put out a piece I did quickly and don’t really have much feeling for and they are blown away saying it is one of the best they have seen. I find this both frustrating and comical.”

Matt Hopkins gets inspiration from Todd McFarlane (comic book creator, known for his efforts as the artist on The Amazing Spider-Man and as creator, writer, and artist on the superhero horror-fantasy series Spawn). Matt explains, “McFarlane’s story and style are for the history books. He began as a self-taught artist too, worked his way up to Marvel, and then started his own comic company and original characters, with Image and Spawn. He also wrote his friends and family into his works and influenced an entire generation of people and products in the industry. Spawn is my second favorite character and comic book, second only to Spider-Man. The path McFarlane carved in life is something to be proud of and one I want for myself. I am still striving to be a better artist daily and still working on obtaining similar goals that he has completed.” 

Matt concludes, “Whether someone can draw or not, I believe all humans are artists. We may manifest this in different and various ways, but it is still true. It can be gardening, cooking, or simply the way one arranges a room; art is everywhere. I encourage everyone to try painting or drawing and not be disappointed if it does not turn out great at first. Part of art is the process of learning. Everyone has their own niche and good/bad does not apply when expressing ourselves in a true and pure form. Just do it and do not be self-conscious about it. It is truly liberating to just create something and go back to the inner child inside of us all. The child did not care what others thought and just danced in the rain. That is art.”

“As I walk through this wicked world. Searching for light in the darkness of insanity. I ask myself, is all hope lost? Is there only pain and hatred and misery? And each time I feel like this inside, there’s one thing I wanna know. What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?” – Elvis Costello & The Attractions.

Learn more about Matt or commission him for some art at @matthopkins1980

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