If you have been buying records in the golden era of broken beat, chances are you came across the work of Bologna’s Mat Design. Born Matteo Sola, it was his passion for music that eventually made him the designer responsible for the corporate identity of labels such as 2000Black, Neroli and Arision. He not only made the artwork for one of my favourite compilations, Soul in Motion, but also designed the sleeves for many of Domu‘s records.
Below you will find a small showcase of Mat’s work, enclosed by an interview with the man.
Can you give a brief introduction on yourself?
My name is Matteo Sola, age 35. I went to high school in Bologna (Italy), scientific type of studies, nothing related to arts or design.
How did you get involved with design?
I used to paint and draw since when I was a kid. My main inspirations came from records covers, Strata East was my favourite label. I was mostly attracted
to black & white artworks/photographs.
Have you always had an interest in music or did this only happen through your work?
The opposite, I got my job through my passion for music.
How did you first get in touch with people like Volcov and Dego?
Perfect escalation… hahah. I met Enrico (Volcov, Rima) in Milano during one of his gigs at club Pergola, I think it was in 2000. A year later I got in touch with Dego at Goya headquarters. When I popped up at the old Bugz studio, I met Orin “Afronaught” Walters.
What’s your approach when you work on an assignment, what’s the inspiration?
I always try to focus on the music the artwork should reflect to…. My aim is to give a visual preview of what you are going to listen to.
It always appeared to me, it’s more than your work connecting you to these artist. Did it become friendship?
Sure! Friendship is the key… but experience, taste and skills are not at the end of the list.
Do you have a favourite piece of your work in the music field?
There are three I like in particular: (1) The 2000Black logo – lots of interpretations of that logo has been done, mine is still pushing!! (2) Neroli’s website – a huge project at the time, something quite innovative and fresh. (3) Big Bang’s Rework album – a few years after the release on Arision, Omar’s Sing (If you want it) came out and the guy who did the cover [and was obviously inspired] just dropped me an email and sent me a CD. I’m an Omar fan… that made me laugh!!
What else have you been working on lately?
I’m taking care of proud 2be book series.
You can find more of Mat’s work on his website. He’s also updating his blog regularly and can be found on Twitter.
It was through Dorian Concept’s MySpace page, that I first stumbled, completely unaware, across Alice Dufay’s work. Much later, when I used her illustration for the Swede:art Podcast, I became familiar with her work . And her great series of beatmakers from around the world, Beats & Faces, hand-drawn by Alice. Soon after, we got together for this little interview.
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Alice Dufay, I’m an illustrator. I studied at “Ecole de beaux arts”, Art school in Caen (France). When I finished my studies i taught fine art for 6 years.
At the same time, I worked at home, making drawings, collage, textile creations for different people and supports (flyers, vinyl, book cover). Last year, I wrote and draw my first comic book “Le temps s’écoule à la vitesse d’un escargot“. The second one is meant to be ready in 2010. Nowaday, I work in an art gallery called Oh! with 4 other illustrators and designer
Was there a moment that made you decide you’re gonna be an illustrator?
Well, I think I’m the kind of artist who is into everything. I really enjoy to work with different materials and media. When I finished Art school, I thought I wanted to be a cartoon movie maker. Actually, I didn’t really decide to be an illustrator. I think it went that way because of the proposition I had and people I met.
Who were your biggest influences and which contemporary designers do you admire?
Daily life, cinema and music. I enjoy the colours and freshness of Basquiat and Cody Hudson‘s work, I also like Martin Arnold‘s videos and his vision of the classic American cinema of the 50’s, Julien Pacaud‘s collage or Wolfgang Laib‘s minimalism.
Can you explain the concept of your Beats & Faces series and how it started?
Beats & Faces is a common project with my boyfriend Pierre (aka Fulgeance). We both wanted to put forward the new hip hop scene, new producers, new art.
I draw portraits of the beatmakers, designers , DJs, VJs that we like. There will be an exhibition soon, the first one will take place in Nice (French Riviera) and the second one in Kanazawa (Japan).
What role does music have in your life?
Music is a part of my daily life. I never had opportunity to learn music when I was a little girl, but I’ve always been into it anyway. I love to draw for musicians and I try to transcribe their universe. I really need to listen to music while I work, it inspires me and it really helps me to be creative. And, when it’s possible, I even act as myself as a DJ … or more as a selector!
Are there any other projects to look out for?
Sometimes, I make funny dolls – for example I made a Peter Digital Orchestra doll with his MPC 2000. I made the covers for Souleance, a partnership between the talented producer Fulgeance and DJ Soulist of What The Funk. I made the artwork for Fulgeance’s Smartbanging EP and I also worked, this time with collage, on the 1000Name‘s EP on Eklektik Records.
The pictures seen in this post only show a small fraction of the Beats & Faces series. Alice’s page on Flickr is probably the most convenient way to see them all, you can also visit the project’s own MySpace page. For everything else, you best stop by her blog or the previously mentioned Oh! website.
A second part to this post should follow soon, then focusing on the music behind the faces.