I have first met Matthew back in November 2017. Matthew was one of the first supporters of World Anvil and already Driftwood Archives was a dreaming becoming a reality. He was so excited about the project. Back then all I could think of was, “How someone so very talented, care about my project!”. To be fair, looking at our community today, I still am. Matthew has put out in the world something that I consider a unique spin to the classic genre of fantasy. His choice of colours and his play of light and shadows create a mood that is both, otherworldly and spellbinding. I hope you enjoy this dive into the man behind the art as much I did talking to him.
When and how did you start drawing?
I remember being obsessed with creating, and drawing was a part of that. Every show, movie, book, game, and otherwise I consumed became fuel in my growing need to bring things to life. Usually this took form in fantasy, given wings by worldbuilders I became acquainted to at a young age like Tolkien and Jordan.
Which is your favourite piece so far and why?
My favorite piece is always changing though is always the same — it is whatever piece I am currently working on. As soon as I finish it and begin another, I no longer like that last piece as much as the one currently on my screen. It’s been this way almost as long as I’ve been an artist, with only a few exceptions, like my “Dreamborn” elf piece.
What would be your sage advice to young artists starting out with digital drawing
There are two ways to look at this…. either its fun and a hobby, or it’s a career. The former is easy and fun, and you can do it however you like, whenever you feel, and admittedly as fast or slow as you desire. However, if you decide this is your thing and this is what you want to do, let it fuel you. Remember that this isn’t an easy road. Things will come easier as you go and there will be a great deal of fun to be had, it comes at the price of blood, sweat, and practice. There are no real shortcuts, no 10 step masterpieces, or cheating the system. You will cycle through loving and hating your artwork, but it means that you are growing. Embrace it. Keep pushing. Never, ever let go of your dream, and you will have it.
How deep into the lore of your drawings do you go before you begin with it, if at all!
Every piece is different. I like to think of my process as organic — I am both a writer and an illustrator, so brainstorming and creation happen on both sides of the fence. Sometimes I have a concrete idea that needs painted and other times I paint random stuff that becomes canon in writing later. More often than not, the plan is not adhered to and I find something off the path that was much better than the original concept.
Can you describe for us Driftwood Archives in 2 – 3 sentences?
Driftwood Archives is a worldbuilding project exploring the ever-expanding dark fantasy universe that has haunted my imagination for most of my life. It is a collection of the things I love about fantasy (as well as some other surprises) and a chance to bring some originality to the genre, all while crafting a love letter to the things that inspired me to start painting and writing in the first place. It is both the stage for my stories and writing as well as a platform for me to exercise my creative process in different ways.
When did you start working on it and who/what inspired you to do so.
I started working on Driftwood Archives a little over a year ago when I decided to stop drawing what came easy and to force myself to practice what made me happy. I’ve been weaving in elements I’ve been writing about for my entire life and drawing inspiration from everything that led me here so far. Just quickly off the top of my head (and in no particular order) inspirations include [themes:] fantasy and dark fantasy, magic, the occult, religion, classic art, horror, [authors:] JRR Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss [artists:] Peter Mohrbacher, Brom, [games:] Dungeons & Dragons, Darkest Dungeon, Diablo, Destiny, The Witcher 3, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne… among many, many others.
Is there an ultimate goal with Driftwood Archives and what is that?
The main goal is to make people happy by entertaining them. The secondary goal is to create a universe that can be explored through various forms of media and that allows me to be able to create in different mediums, from painting to writing to game development and others. Some people ask me how I expect to make people happy though dark fantasy, and my answer is always the same. Dark fantasy shows places where everything is increasingly darker and the odds are incredibly stacked against us, but the heroes must rise up and become better for it. Much like this world, dark fantasy changes a person, strengthening them and pushing them forward with new resolve.
Driftwood Archives Kickstarter
Matthew is currently half way in his first Kickstarter for Driftwood Archives! It’s a beautiful artbook featuring some of his greatest work! Go have a look and you can have yours signed by Matthew, something tells me that some years from know this signature will mean a lot! Also don’t forget! World Ember 2018 is just around the corner!