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Creative Q&A #21 – Julie Mattei

August 18, 2009


Hey everyone! Hope your weekend was swell. Sorry I kept quiet over the weekend, I was hoppin’ around SoCal: LA to OC to SD and back – plus I was cranky due to the new diet.  Today, I’m speaking with Brooklyn based Art Director/Illustrator Julie Mattei. At first glance, her bird figures appear rudimentary, but the ink details tell of a more honed creator at play. She has a diverse and growing portfolio. I’m also quite fond of her pattern work, which you can see along with my interview with Julie after the jump: 


CR: What’s your artistic background?
Julie Mattei: My parents love art and I grew up surrounded by it. They always encouraged me to draw and go to art school and Graphic design appeared very soon as an evidence for me. I graduated from college in Paris in 2003 and freelanced there for a while. I first heard about CalArts in 2005 during a students’ poster retrospective in a museum in Paris. I was amazed by these students who could make such amazing and weird looking posters. I applied for their Graphic Design MFA program, got accepted and graduated in 2008. CalArts literally changed my life and open my eyes on design practice. I learned there that it is possible to be a designer and an artist at the same time.

CR: What’s your favorite medium to work with?
JM: I absolutely love to draw, but my dear old Mac is my favorite medium for sure – I’m fascinated by the computer as a artistic medium and what softwares allow you to do.

CR: What medium would you like to work with?
JM: I very interested in watercolor, I totally want to improve my painting skills.

CR: Do you have a favorite personal work? If so, what is it?
JM: There are 3 of my “projects” that I really like.

1 – The “birds” – the project that got me back into drawing, I have to make more!
2 – my phonetic alphabet poster that I made in CalArts – I made a letters based an alphabetical list of my friends back in France. The result was very experimental, I just love weird letter shapes.
3 – the first poster of my thesis series “longue vie, bonne chance et je t’embrasse” – It is the most personal piece I’ve ever made, it’s my life on a poster.

CR: Who’s blowing your mind right now?
JM: My husband Leon Benn is a painter and he totally blows my mind. He really opened me to painting in general, and I’m fascinated by his technical skills and his unique imagination. I’m also a huge fan of Mario Hugo and Keetra Dean Dixon who – to me – are perfect examples of people who mix art and design in such a beautiful way. I got really interested in Ed Fella’s work. He was one of my teachers at CalArts and I start to get into his work for my thesis – his work is absolutely amazing.

CR: What’s in heavy rotation on your iTunes, or CD player, tape deck, record player, etc?
JM: I’m totally in repeat mode with the Beach Boys and Burt Bacharach.

CR: What’s next for you?
JM: Hopefully a new job soon and more drawings!

You can see more of Julie’s “Birds” series and  pattern work, as well as some of her art direction, below.



2-phonetic alphabet

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