Matt Mills (@stockandrender) is one of the most brilliant artists we’ve discovered via Instagram. His design pieces are intricately beautiful and colored to perfection. His use of textures to create depth and substance in his work is both intuitive and imaginative. Matt’s instincts, creativity and genius constructions have drawn us in from the onset and we’re confident it will have the same effect on you. Learn more about Matt and his art as you read on!
WHAT ARE YOUR PROGRAMS AND APPS OF CHOICE WHEN CREATING YOUR ART?
These days, a lot of the art that I create begins with Cinema 4D. I’ll typically use it to create 3D renderings of shapes and objects that I can then take and manipulate with various apps on my iPhone or in Photoshop. For my personal work, I love using iPhone apps to play around with ideas quickly and easily. Some of my go to apps are Union for masking and blending shapes, Fragment for creating prismatic effects, Trigraphy for some wild abstract effects, Hyperspektiv for mind blowing video manipulation, and of course Mextures. I think I’ve used Mextures on nearly every image I’ve submitted to Instagram. It always seems to give my pieces that final touch.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN CREATING ART?
It’s probably been about 12 years or so now that I’ve been creating what could be considered art. As far back as I can remember I’ve always loved drawing and doodling. But it wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I actually started getting into the creation art. There was a time in my life that I was really into video games and I can trace back my first experience creating art back to the game Unreal Tournament. I discovered that people were making their own mods for the game and wanted to learn how to make my own. That led me to Maya, the first 3D software package I had ever used. I was hooked. It’s one of those things that I knew I had to keep doing. Creating something from nothing was my new addiction and I haven’t stopped creating ever since. Over the years I’ve mostly stayed close to the 3D rendered art world but recently have been branching out into more graphically inspired and abstract styles.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
I struggle with this all the time. Although a lot of the recent work I’ve been doing does seem to fall into a particular visual style, I have so many different types of projects that I work on it’s hard for me to nail it down. But in general the work everyone sees on Instagram could be described as Retro-inspired Geometrically Symmetrical Abstract Art. I get a lot of comments that the pieces look like they could have been album artwork for 70’s psychedelic space rock bands. And actually, that kind of fits I think. I’ve been heavily influenced and inspired by various genres of music for my entire life and I feel like that is starting to seep into my artwork and influence my most recent designs.
WHAT MAKES AN IMAGE MEMORABLE TO YOU?
For me, an image can be memorable for various reasons. I tend to enjoy seeing things that I’ve never seen done before or something that sparks a personal emotional response. Access to the internet has provided us with a never-ending supply of imagery. A lot of that imagery is very similar or has been derived from other imagery. Honestly, I find it rather difficult to actually quantify exactly what makes a particular image memorable. And, I think the memorability of an image is probably different for every person. But in my eyes I tend to be more prone to remember images that have a particular focal point. I think that’s why you’ll notice a lot of my recent artwork usually contains a central, usually simple, shaped element. I then utilize that element’s shape as a focal point, and will fill that shape or surround it with the complex detail to supplement the focal point and pull the viewer in deeper. Does this make the image more memorable to everyone? I’m not sure. But because I tend to enjoy this type of imagery I feel drawn to keep attempting to recreate it within my own artwork.
WHAT LESSONS OR ADVICE HAVE LED YOU TO PROGRESS THE MOST?
I think a few things have helped me immensely over the past couple of years. First, my age. Getting older is an interesting experience. Juggling careers and creative projects and a family is exhausting and I’ve really got to stay focused and manage my time closely. I make time to create every day. I’m in my mid-thirties now and have been creating for well over a decade. The experiences I’ve had designing and making art for myself and for clients have helped to mold my creative abilities and refine my tastes. Without that time working on a wide variety of projects I wouldn’t be where I am now. I am a firm believer that there is no better way to learn and progress than to sit down and do the work. Experiment, play, try new techniques, whatever. Just sit down every day and create something.
On a similar note, when I joined Instagram about two years ago I was overwhelmed with the amount of support in the community. I found other artists of all types sharing their work and pieces of their daily lives. It’s a great way to get instant feedback and following all of the other inspirational artists out there drives me to keep pushing my own creativity to places I didn’t know I could go. Sharing my work with the community has opened up opportunities that would not have happened otherwise. And I look forward to getting to work on new and exciting projects in the future that will continue to allow me to evolve my creative style.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WAYS THAT YOU USE MEXTURES TO ACHIEVE YOUR MOOD AND COLORS?
One of the things that I’ve really started to notice with digital artwork is that a lot of it looks very sterile. It feels a bit unnatural. I mean, I get it. Most of it is supposed to look like that and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. It’s a style. But, I want my pieces to have that textural feel to them. Like someone pulled out a dusty album cover from their dad’s collection and took it down to the library and used the color photocopier to print out a copy of it, then took a photo of that copy with their iPhone and posted it to Instagram. Mextures does that for me. For any image I’m editing on my phone the last step is always Mextures. Sometimes I use it just to add a bit of grain and sometimes I use it to add multiple layers of complex blends and effects to achieve something more surreal. Or, if I’m not quite feeling the vibe of a piece I’m working on, I’ll pull it into Mextures and start going through all of the formulas to help spark some new ideas. Either way, it seems to always be there for me when I need it. Like a good friend. (Just for clarification, I do have friends that are not iPhone apps)
IF YOU WERE GIVING ADVICE ON HOW TO ACCOMPLISH MEXTURE WORK SIMILAR TO YOURS, WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT YOU FEEL WOULD BE MOST CRUCIAL TO SHARE?
Well, I think the first thing would be familiarize yourself with how the effects are applied. If you’re not used to working in applications like Photoshop then I’d say start off by deconstructing some of the formulas that you like. Apply a formula, then go through all of the layers. Turning them off and on one by one so you can see what look each layer is applying to the final image. Then dig deeper by going into each layer and checking out the blending mode and adjustments that are set. Change the settings and see what each option does. Really, it just boils down to experimenting and playing around in the app. Most of my favorite pieces have come from just trying out different effects or accidentally stumbling across an interesting combination of layers.
WHY IS CREATING SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
For me, creating is a release. I’ve found that during weeks when I don’t have time to create I feel a lot more tension. It’s like all of the ideas and emotions are building up inside and need to be set free. Creating art is my meditation. My therapist. My muse. It has opened up opportunities I never would have dreamed of and introduced me to people I’ve admired for years. I’ve actually tried to give up on it a few times only to come crawling back with a new found respect for the impact is has on my life.
CAN YOU SHARE A HANDFUL OF INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS THAT INSPIRE YOU?
@rawandrendered - I stumbled upon Joey’s account during the first few days I was on Instagram. I had actually stopped doing 3D for quite a while but seeing his renders inspired me to jump back in full force.
@minimicrogram - Art using a microscope? Oh, yes. The shapes and structures Ingrid captures from real world chemicals and substances are absolutely amazing.
@archannair - Archan and I actually go back a long way. We met on DeviantArt and I’ve been following his stuff ever since. Packs a ton of emotion into his work.
@joycesu - This is another account I stumbled upon early on and have been consistently amazed by. Joyce’s work has such a great vibe.
@casualtyofcool - Josh makes some wonderful creations. I love the way he captures a sense of scale in his surreal pieces.
@_tyedied - I love seeing Tye’s photos pop up on my feed. He’s always somewhere I’ll probably never be and I feel grateful to be able to follow along and see the world through his lens.
@beeple_crap - I think everyone knows Beeple’s crap by now so no need to explain. Love seeing his creativity every single day and it inspires me to keep creating my own crap.
@garibaldiarts - I was introduced to David’s art back when I worked at Disney and have always been inspired by the way he does what he does. He’s taken the process of creating art to the next level and is sharing it with the world in a unique way.