MondoCon is just around the corner and we over at iHORROR have a hit an all-time, excitement-fever frenzy thinking about all the amazing art some of our favorite artists are brining with them this year. Over the past few MondoCons, artist Matt Ryan Tobin has become a hallmark for us in terms of first booth stops we have to make during initial arrival. It’s a dangerous stop to make considering everything he works on is a must own for us, but its also where we have found some of our favorite prints from each years con.
It would be easy to pick Tobin’s work out of lineup. Each illustration lends itself to the the distinctive style and inspired roots that entirely speak in their own voice. His use of dark negative space contrast against sometimes candy infused hyper-neons ride the line between fun, innovative and macabre. Each lands in our wheelhouse and are never not amazing.
To add to that, we also found it really cool that Tobin intensely researches a project in order to lend it those magic little details. For example, his work on Brian Yuzna’s Society, was inspired by doing some gumshoe style research and finding that Yuzna was heavily inspired by the works of Salviador Dali. In turn, Tobin used inspiration from Dali’s “In Voluptas Mors” in his work on Society. Each of his works seems to have little additional ‘inside genre baseball’ touches that push them from an illustration to illustrations that fans connect with on a molecular level of fandom.
On top of creating some of our favorite illustrations for some of our most beloved films, the Canadian-born musician/artist is just an all around rad dude and someone we look forward to chatting with each year.
In fact, we got to chat with him a bit leading up to the magic that is MondCon to look at some of Tobin’s influences, favorite projects and to find that he is more of an awesome dude than we had suspected.
What’s your favorite thing you have been able to work on and why?
That’s hard, really. (Laughs) I’m constantly working on things that I love, thus making it rather hard to choose a favorite.
Of all time, I’d probably say the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey poster for Skuzzles. It’s funny, cause it was actually the most strenuous and personally demanding thing I’ve done yet. It’s my favorite movie of all time, and where some might think that’s a dream job – and it was – it was a lot of personal pressure I put on myself to do the film justice. Took me over a year to complete. Thankfully, the folks at Skuzzles were incredibly patient and let me run with it. As of recently though, Mondo/Death Waltz and I worked on a Hellraiser 30th anniversary vinyl release that turned out beautiful. There’s plenty more in the pipeline, I just cant speak of it yet.
What is your all time dream project you would love to work on?
I’m working on one of them right now. Can’t say what though. Mondo really let me run with it, and I love them for making this opportunity and project a reality. I’ve had a few in the past. My Nightmare on Elm Street poster for Mondo was a pretty big deal for me. That’s a top 3 right there. Id love to work on gig posters for The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam.
Where did you find your influence?
That’s tough. It’s a pretty wide spectrum. I find inspiration and influence in everything. Old and new. When it comes to film it’s a lot of horror and darker themes I’m really attracted to. It allows for more poetically-driven and obscure artwork. As far as artist influence goes, I owe a lot to Justin Erickson of Phantom City Creative, Gary Pullin and Jason Edmiston. Those dudes are very much my mentors and they all contributed to the spark that lit the match.
By Matt Ryan TobinTop 3 favorite horror films (I know it prolly changes, but what ya feeling today?)
Its always the same, actually!
3. Pet Sematary
2. Child’s Play
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street
Do you get creative blocks? How do you deal with them?
Oh man. All the time. More now than ever, I think. A project presents itself and you’re so excited to put your stamp on it and create something that is – albeit nothing is – original. It’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself. I think it’s the fact that I’m faced with more deadlines and more projects now, plus more exposure then I’ve ever had. A lot of eyes on you…you just want to do your best each time. It’s gotta be better than what you did last, its gotta be more clever, Its gotta be smart. That’s when those stubborn walls come up…when nothing seems good enough. None of these are complaints by any means, its par for course, really. As far as how to deal with them? I’m probably the WORST candidate to give constructive and valuable advice on that. (Laughs). In a perfect world, I try to avoid projects that don’t instantly inspire me and stick to ones that fire off light bulbs from the get-go.
How do you go about choosing what direction you are going to take once you start work on a specific project?
I usually try to choose the direction before I start. The concept, or some semblance of one has to be there from the beginning.
If I’m struggling before I start a project that’s a red flag for me. Some projects evolve throughout the process though. Sometimes you see things during the process that you didn’t see before. Sometimes things work out on paper as you thought and some don’t. I usually don’t commit 100% to a rough concept as it usually veers off the path here and there. I try to let it evolve but its really nice too, when it’s idea – concept – final and it just works smoothly.
We are huge fans of Silver Bullet and your print for that one was equally amazing. Can you talk about your creative process on that one?
Thank you! That one was a lot of fun.
When it comes to movie posters, I try to immerse myself in the film as much as I can. Have it playing while I work, listen to the score or even audiobooks if its based on a novel.
I did the same with Silver Bullet. Fellow artists and I have this word we use to describe something clever in artwork. We call it “The Hook.” I wont take credit for it though. It’s when you see something else in something or something can be used to represent something else. If you look at the stained glass church window from a far, its the shape of a bullet. That was that poster’s “hook.”Illustrating the entire composition into stained glass felt like a cool way to frame everything together. It’s fun creating something that can be read more than one way or hides imagery in other imagery. It Allows for seeing something new each time you look at it.
I pulled the palette off the cover for King’s Cycle of The Werewolf and the look of the wolf – paying tribute to the late, great Berni Wrightson book illustrations rather than
the films depiction.
Have you ever met any of the stars from any of the projects you have worked on? Have you been able to show them your work and how did that go?
I recently met Ethan Embry at HorrorHound Weekend in Cincinnati. I worked on the vinyl soundtrack artwork for The Devil’s Candy for Mondo/Death Waltz. Ethan approached me out of the blue at my booth. I was oddly very nervous (laughs). I heavily identified with his character in Can’t Hardly Wait as a teenager. Watched that move countless times. He was extremely nice, and loved the art and was genuinely a great dude. It’s so rewarding when you get the seal of approval from someone who’s worked on a film you created art for. It’s even better when they go out of their way to reach out and say something nice. Alex Winter (Bill of Bill & Ted, Freaked) has also been nothing but awesome and as of recently Mark Patton of Nightmare On Elm Street 2 fame have all been so rad.
What advice to you have for aspiring graphic artists out there? What would be your own advice to you from 10 years ago?
Risking sounding like Tony Robbins here but..
My dad once told me if you’re truly, madly passionate about what you want, and you want it for the right reasons – it will happen. If you want to accomplish something – put it in the forefront of your mind and keep it there always. Picture the outcome everyday, picture being there and put the work in.
It will happen. There’s no reason it shouldn’t.
I think about that everyday. Just create and always be creating. Most importantly, always go with what you gut tells you, its almost always right. Oh, and don’t be a dick. Be nice and be grateful. For those good opportunities you do get, put back out those good vibes into the ether. What goes around.
What do you love most about MondoCon?
The people. Hands down. Everyone. The artists, the attendees, the staff and volunteers – everyone is so damn awesome. You’re surrounded by creativity and inspiration
all condensed into this one space and it just feels good. When you’re surrounded by people who all share the same love and appreciation for art, its pretty hard not to be
You bringing any surprises down for MondoCon?
A whole bunch of Canadian junk food and Newfie Rum.
We can’t wait to check out all the goodies that Tobin will have in town (and maybe some of that Rum) Nov. 4 – 5 in good ole Austin, Texas at this year’s Mondocon. For more information on Mondo, head over to mondotees.com and for more info on the latest Matt Tobin radness head over to worksofmattryan.com.
Oh, and get a peek at some of some of our personal Tobin favorites!