Each month, we feature an artist who caught our attention. They could be in theatre, film, music or visual art. The point is we think they’re kick ass and you should know who they are.
In celebration of this glorious and gory time of year, we spent some time with Matthew Therrien, a professional illustrator who has an illustrious talent for all things horror. Prior to his commitment to the world of visual arts, Therrien was a successful classical musician who studied piano performance and composition and worked as a teacher and music director for over a decade. Therrien’s inspiration to move completely into illustration came on the heels of a physical move back to the city of Toronto. He is self-taught through his love of comic books, cartoons and movie posters from the 80’s.
Graphic designer, illustrator, comic artist.
6 things you can’t live without: Horror films, books, pencils and paper (that’s two things, I know), music, coffee shops, roadtrips.
What’s the best show you’ve seen recently?
I was completely captivated by the first episode of Westworld; I’m actually a big fan of the original film and I’m happy that the show lived up to my expectations. I was incredibly engrossed in Stranger Things (but really, who wasn’t?) and I’m also enjoying The Exorcist series as well.
What are your plans for 2017?
So many plans, and so little time! I hope to keep doing what I love… creating artwork, working with new people, and expanding my portfolio. But on a personal, side-project sort of level, I’m also looking to get my first feature film off the ground, continue writing, and hopefully make a few short films as well.
Most memorable moment of your career thus far?
My first really big project was illustrating a comic based on a film called “Manborg“. When the comic was completed and printed, it was released at Toronto’s Fan Expo convention. Myself and the director of the film, Steven Kostanski, attended the convention and honestly it was just such a great experience meeting fans, signing comics, and hanging out with the other guests (one of which was director Don Coscarelli, who made a film called “Phantasm” that I’ve loved since I first started watching horror films). There have definitely been other career highlights, but this one always stands out as being the most fun, and what I consider to be the biggest “first step” toward really solidifying a career as a working artist.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why?
A filmmaker… which is a path I’d still like to more actively pursue. What I love more than anything else is storytelling. Writing and drawing comics is essentially just creating a film with still images (and with the added bonus of not needing a big budget to create the effects and shots you want!)
What advice do you have for people who want to get where you are?
This is a remarkable industry where no two people seem to have the same story as to how they became established. The best way, as silly and obvious as it sounds, is to just find what you love doing (and what you think you’re the most talented at) and focus your energy on that. I started out wanting to be an artist for DC comics, but the reality is that there are so many people applying for that line of work that the odds of being seen are incredibly slim. Instead, I focused on trying to establish myself as a horror artist because it combined my love of scary movies with painting. Breaking in as a horror artist actually opened itself up to different jobs: concept and storyboard art, posters, comics — you name it. I believe that if you’re excited about what you’re going, the passion and dedication you put into it is visible in the final product and that’s the stuff that will get you noticed and will pave the way for a successful career.
Industry shout out – who does it go to?
Oh man, there are so many talent people… but I have to give a shout out to my friend Shira Haberman, whose imagination and style are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You can check out some of her wonderful and weird work here.