Matthew Korbel-Bowers' work has been on my radar for what feels like a while now. Each time one of his delightful prints shows up in my Pinterest feed or on a beloved blog, it catches my eye and I linger for a second (which, of course, is a lifetime in internet time) to take in its colorful glory.
Eventually, I finally had to look a little deeper and was both delighted and dismayed to find that there wasn't much to find on Matthew Korbel-Bowers save for a very interesting feature on Fast Co.Design and a brief interview on Domaine. I was delighted because I like the mysteriousness of not having a bloated About page on a website, but dismayed because this time I really did want to know much, much more.
I did find, however, that he is an Art Director at Communication Arts magazine. [Insert freak out here]. For graphic designers, CA magazine is basically the design periodical. It's the one you save forever and wash your hands before touching.
So then I really wanted to know more and emailed him immediately. As you may have already guessed, he agreed to the interview and the rest is history.
Big thanks to Matthew for sharing his thoughts and his work with us today!
What do you think led you to become a designer and when did you decide to pursue design as a career?
I always knew I would be some sort of designer. The family business was landscape design so I grew up around technical drawings, cartridge paper, blueprints, drafting tables, rulers, font books, architectural shape templates, pencils/erasers and artistic renderings. But what I really fell in love with was the design studio life. My folks would play records, drink coffee and dive deep into their design process. I inherited that love for getting in a zone—it works well with my hermitous personality.
What is your proudest design moment while working for Communication Arts magazine?
Well, every 2-months I feel an equal sense of pride when we finish an issue and get it back from the printer. It is very satisfying to hold your work as an object in the hand. Working at a traditional agency designers—ironically—rarely get that experience.
Your colorful prints have become quite popular. When did you start creating these works and what was the initial response? Were they an instant hit?
I really committed to them in 2012 and I guess they were sort of an instant hit.
What led you to start creating these pieces?
Instinctually, they were pieces I had always wanted to make but I had some sort of mental block stopping me. I think I was self-conscious about making such "simple," works (though I don't think of them as "simple," now and could go on and on about this subject). Also, I thought of myself as a designer and not an artist so it took me awhile to realize that my form studies could be considered art.
I believe your interview with Fast Co.Design about your secret surf maps touched on this,, but could you tell us about your process for creating these prints?
The Secret Surf Maps tap into the visual language of my folk's landscape design plans. That is the formal part. The other part comes from surfing, exploring and documenting the natural gems of the Northern California coast.
What other creative pursuits do you have?
My other pursuit is just like this interview because I am interested in other artists'/designers' work and histories. That is what made me pursue a job at a design magazine. For example, my brother is a surf photographer and I like to hear every little detail about his work, progress and setbacks. When you pay big money for a collectible work of art you are paying for the history as much as the image.
What are you favorite podcasts? Do you listen to them while you design?
Yes, I love podcasts—and along with gum and music—are crucial to getting in the zone. My wife and best friend have a podcast together called the Dirty 30-Something podcast (dirty30something.com). That is my fav' but I might be bias.
How do you define graphic design?
Graphic design is the visual side of branding.
What is your favorite typeface?
Hmm. I think I like typographic relationships more than the typefaces. Like a 96pt classic 18th century French serif title paragraph set over 10pt Avenir body copy.
Where do you find inspiration for your design projects? Do you look in different places depending on who the work is being produced for? Do you keep any sort of files full of ideas or inspiration?
My answer to this is Martin Venezky (http://www.appetiteengineers.com/). I learned from him the life-changing lesson of making your inspiration. It would take too long to describe here but research Martin and process artists like Robert Irwin. Good stuff.
What's next for you and your work?
'Keep making,' is what I tell myself.