Matt Talbert is an extremely talented contemporary artist, who is widely known for his creative masterpieces of oil on aluminum and on linen. Matt is a contemporary oil painter living in Orange County, California. While he grew up at the beach, he attributes much of his artistic development to his years spent in New York City. Working in the basement of the famous Pearl art store on Canal street and meeting a wide range of artists from all disciplines was indispensable.
Matt became well known for his work depicting craft cocktail culture, where he collaborated with the best bars and bartenders across the country. Now Matt’s primary focus is expressive paintings of the human figure exhibited in galleries such as Abend Gallery and Arcadia Contemporary.
Matt was a finalist in the International Artist Magazine’s “Favorite Subject” Competition and the Portrait Society of America’s Member Competition. He has been featured in the PoetsArtists Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, OC Weekly, Imbibe Magazine, Locale Magazine and Societe Perrier. Matt earned his BFA from the Laguna College of Art and Design and is a member of the Portrait Society of America.
NY Elite Interview with artist Matt Talbert
NY Elite: Tell us a little about yourself and your career beginnings.
Matt Talbert: Like most artists I was always drawing as a child, mostly copying comics and making goofy cartoons. In high school I began to take it more seriously by attending the Orange County High School of the Arts. It was there that I realized I had a knack for painting and decided to continue my education at the Laguna College of Art and Design. It is a small college that focuses on traditional drawing and painting skills. A less formal education came after that when I moved to New York City for a couple of years. I worked at an art supply store in SoHo, painted street scenes and lived in a tiny 100 year old apartment. I loved every minute of it and it definitely shaped a lot of who I am as an artist.
NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?
Matt Talbert: Right now I’m doing a series of expressive figurative works. The have an ethereal quality to them that lets them be both realistic and emotionally expressive at the same time. I have pieces that will be going to group shows this summer and plans for larger multi figure works that I’m preparing for in the future.
NY Elite: What art do you most identify with?
Matt Talbert: I have always been drawn to realistic figurative works. In my school days I was heavily influenced by traditional artists like John Sargent, to more contemporary artists such as Lucian Frued. Portraits and figures have always been what I’m most drawn towards. Even when I paint still lifes and landscapes I try to incorporate a figure into the piece in some way.
NY Elite: What themes do you pursue?
Matt Talbert: I have always been interested in exploring emotions through figurative art. Over the last few years I have become more confident as a painter, which has allowed me to take risks and use more creative applications of paint that help me express emotions more clearly. I’m also fascinated that science and spiritual teachings seem to be pointing in the direction that what we experience as separateness is actually an illusion. On a microscopic level there is no clear definition between me and you. This is something I am thinking about as I paint the human form.
NY Elite: What’s your favorite art work?
Matt Talbert: Probably John Sargent’s Madame X, its always stood out to me as something extremely special, even though I can’t quite put my finger on why. I was lucky to have seen it at the Met in New York many years ago.
NY Elite: Tells us about some of your recent exhibitions. What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Matt Talbert: In February I had a piece at Abend Gallery in Denver, Colorado. My wife and I had never been to Denver so we decided to take a quick one night trip to be at the opening reception. It was great to meet so many other figurative artists from around the country. The response was great and it was a packed house on opening night.
NY Elite: Tell us about one of your projects which you are very proud of.
Matt Talbert: My painting “Going to Pieces without Falling Apart” was something of a breakthrough for me. I had been working all last year on a new series that explores the principles of trusting my intuition, embracing spontaneity and doing so with confidence. This piece highlighted each of those goals to its fullest and is a testament to the idea of not overworking a painting. I have heard it called the technical narrative of a painting when the process is as much a part of the story as the subject being painted.
NY Elite: What does “being creative” mean to you?
Matt Talbert: Giving in to the process, taking risks, being confident with yourself and not overthinking what is coming out of you. It is so easy to start a painting with a burst of creativity and then overwork it to death. As I’ve become more confident as a painter I’ve learned to trust my intuition.
NY Elite: What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
Matt Talbert: I’m in a constant quest for finding the best routine to fit my busy schedule. Having a three year old son means that a lot of the time I have a “paint when you can” attitude. If you were to pop into my studio you almost certainly would hear either a podcast or music playing. When I’m doing busy work like laying in the drawing of a painting, a podcast suits me just fine. If I’m getting into the heavy paint flinging and texture building I need music because in this mode I want to basically shut down my thinking brain. To deal with the stresses of life and art I have taken up the practice of meditating. I find that mediating energizes my creative mind and allows me to be more open to new ideas. I also deal with some anxiety that seems to be kept at bay the more I meditate.
NY Elite: What role does the Artist have in Society?
Matt Talbert: While at times being an artist can feel selfish, I really do think it is vital for a community to have people that are working to express a greater truth beyond the daily grind. Artist can inspire people of all disciplines to look at the world in a different light. I believe that seeing things in a new way and sharing that with others is what propels humanity to create and invent and progress.
NY Elite: What are your thoughts on being an artist in today’s world?
Matt Talbert: More important than ever. With the fast past nature of the internet and social media I think it is useful for people to view visual works that have been carefully crafted over time in a very considered way. Paintings have gone through a process of creation that takes time and for the younger generation I think it’s important for them to be exposed to this medium and not just the disposable images of the internet.
NY Elite: How has painting influenced your life?
Matt Talbert: It’s hard for me to imagine my life without painting because I’ve been doing it for so long. I’m very grateful to have an outlet for me emotions and being able to express myself. I’m a rather shy person in my day to day life, so it’s a useful way for me to not stay so bottled up.
NY Elite: What kind of art is unappealing to you?
Matt Talbert: I’m fairly open to all types of art. When I was young I definitely felt like representational painting was superior, but as I’ve matured I see the value in everything from abstract art to hyperrealism.
NY Elite: What can we expect from you in 2017?
Matt Talbert: Lots of new paintings so stay in touch on Instagram. In August I will be part of a group show at Arcadia Contemporary in Los Angeles. I am very excited to be working with such a prestigious gallery.
NY Elite: Can you share with us three favorite things about your city/culture?
Matt Talbert: I like the old town vibe of my town of Tustin, CA, I like living in a place where you can walk around and go to local mom and pop shops. I’m a short drive from the beach and an hour from downtown LA, so I truly feel like I have just about everything at my fingertips. However I do have to mention that I lived in New York City for a few years and I do miss it. I lived in the East Village and it was one of the best experiences of my life and shaped who I am as an artist. My wife and I try to go back to the city every couple of years to stay connected to the place that meant so much to us.
NY Elite: What social media can your fans follow you? Where can one order copies/prints of your work?
Matt Talbert: I am a big fan of Instagram and I post regularly both finished paintings and works in progress. My account is @talbertart
If you have any inquiry about a certain painting or are interested in commissioning a piece you can email me at email@example.com.