att Lyon is a UK-based graphic artist who designs under the moniker, c86. His inspirations range from “folk art, fine art and illustration. Current work explores line, colour, pattern and shape… often using reoccurring motifs…” Strangely enough, I discovered Matt’s designs while working on a client project sometime last year. I needed to flesh out a wireframe for an online shop, and temporarily fill it with sample products. Some of the sample products included t-shirts, and so I made my way over to Threadless.com for a bit of borrowing. The very first tee that caught my eye was called Castle Mama designed by someone whom I had neglected to reference. Nevertheless, Castle Mama was the faux featured product in my design, and I’m embarrassed to say that it was only several months later that I made the connection that the designer was c86 via haphazard perusal of his Flickr feed.
Matt’s work is fun and colorful. His art makes me happy, and debunks what Dr. Seuss said about adults being obsolete children, and the hell with them. Mr. Lyon is a cool adult with a youthful imagination, and it’s visually evident. His dedication to his craft results in prolific creations. Visit his Flickr feed to get an idea of what I mean; his sketches are absolutely wonderful. I had a few words with him in a brief interview which you’ll find after the jump. (A c86 factoid: he has excellent taste in electronica.) Many thanks to Matt for his time and for sharing his lovely work.
What does the name C86 represent?
Good question… I get asked this from time to time. When I started subbing to Threadless I went under a different name, but there came a time when I wanted to experiment with a new style so late one night chose the C86 moniker. It vaguely refers back to the NME album of the same name, released back in 1986, a year that marked a turning point in terms of my creative outlook of music, films, books, etc. The first C86 designs for Threadless were warmly received, and in retrospect formed the foundation of the work that I’m doing now.
What projects are you working on now that are most meaningful to you?
I’m quite busy at the moment, which is great for anyone working freelance. I’ve just completed a design to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of The Sims for EA that will be available to buy via Society6 at the beginning of February. I was chosen alongside 9 other artists and our work will be promoted by EA for sale as posters as well as laptop and iPhone skins. This week I finished a new t-shirt design for Nike that I’m really excited about, and I’m about to collaborate with Blik to design some new vinyl decals. I’m also involved with a couple of ongoing projects with Black Rock Collective, as well as some collaborations and personal work.
What is in your drawing arsenal?
I admit to having a slight fetish when it comes to art materials and stationary, especially pens and sketchbooks. Visits to both Japan and China over the past few years have only served to fuel this passion. In particular, some of the stationary shops I visited in Tokyo left me wanting to buy everything on display! For a long while, all of my work is first conceived in sketchbooks. I don’t have a favourite brand, though while in Japan I bought loads of spiral-bound sketchbooks in Tokyu Hands that I really like. I’ve also got a stock of concertina sketchbooks from China, fantastic for continuous or themed drawings. I finished one of these the other week themed around creating a bestiary entitled the ‘Book of Beasts’. As for pens, I’d be lost without my Pentel brush pens, Pilot V pens and Copic Multiliners.
Besides your work, what other things are you passionate about?
There are loads of other things I like to keep in touch with, many of which keep me inspired or else feed into my work. Films and music are probably most important to me, as well as reading when I can grab some quality time to get stuck in to a good novel. Creatively, I’m excited about following the work development of my friends and peers. The internet has been invaluable in terms of discovering the work of others and a context of where I fit in with those excited by the same interests. Aside from that, I have a keen interest in Japanese videogames, mostly retro / pre-PS2, and currently own 7 consoles (not including handhelds!). This Christmas I treated myself to a Neo Geo CD console and so am currently enjoying plenty of old-school coin-op classics.
You’ve mentioned that among many things, Electronica fuels your work. Which albums have been on rotation for you lately?
I’m so excited by electronic music! It allows for the invention of new possibilities of sound and composition that I find lacking in the majority of guitar-based bands. The likes of Warp Records, Rephlex and Planet Mu continue to release quality music from some of my favourite recording artists. Over the past year or so I’ve been listening to a lot of dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass, and more recently have discovered left-field hip hop and deconstructive beats from the likes of Flying Lotus and Hudson Mohawke. Even so, classic albums such as Squarepusher’s ‘Ultravistor’, Aphex Twin’s ‘Drukqs’ and a whole number of Autechre and Venetian Snares releases always crop up on my weekly playlist.
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