We caught up with Los Angeles based artist Matt Maust to talk about life on the road, making art and his new body of work. Maust, also known for his work with The Cold War Kids, currently has a solo exhibition on view at Paul Loya Gallery in Culver City.
Tell me a little about this series as you see it.
This body of work came about over the last year its layered, difficult to talk about. Its easier to talk about single pieces rather than the whole lot. Much of the elements were made “on the road,” meaning in dressing rooms, or hotels, or on the tour bus. (I’m a touring musician so I tend to create much of the work while traveling). I’ll assemble, tear down, and rebuild the work until its finished when I get back to LA.
How does your music relate to your art work?
The kind of music and the kind of visuals i make go together. In process, and in viewing. I don’t think I have any answers. I have more questions and I think both the art and music I’m attached and associated with function as big questions.
Why word art?
I’ve always been excited by type. I like how signs look. I have a small background in graphic design and I’ve always appreciated whats possible by arranging 26 letters different ways. I’ve always lost at Scrabble but I have fun losing.
What is it about foreign languages that appealed to you for this body of work?
I think for the most part I was traveling through europe when most of this work was created. If I had been in The US, it probably would have been English. I was buying a lot of old magazines at flea markets and stuffing them into my backpack and collaging with the type in hotel rooms. I particularly remember one night in Brussels where I didn’t sleep too much, but had one of my favorite nights when everything just seemed to work without any effort. Its cliche, but I think when you’re in a foreign place, everything seems new and exciting even if its not.
How has your design background affected your career as an artist?
In some ways I think its hindered me. Often, I have a hard time thinking of what to make, since i used to spend so much time “designing other peoples information”. I also rarely go “off the paper.” But in some ways its helped me. Its helped me stay sensible and practical.
What artists inspired you when you were getting started and today?
When I was a kid I got this really cheesy book from the library. I forgot the title but I had just gotten into the Sex Pistols, and there was this book that had some information about Malcolm McLaren, Jaime Reid, and Vivienne Westwood, etc. I thought the art side of punk was very appealing, the whole DIY ethic in it. McLaren talked a lot about situationism and Guy Debord, etc. So then I bought lipstick traces by Greil Marcus and it made absolutely no sense to me, but I liked it and it really inspired me. It was like he was connecting lots and lots of dots, that sort of made sense but not really. I just knew that I was being exposed to a lot of things at once by reading this book, and it was sort of like reading an art history book of the kind of stuff I wouldn’t learn in a classroom. so that led to finding out about Richard Hamilton, and then that led me to Dieter Roth, and so forth and it just gets too fuzzy to remember. It was great discovering artists pre-internet. I feel like I could digest their work better. Today, it’s hard to say who I’m inspired by. It’s not so much artists anymore, it’s just day to day living and finding the extra-ordinary everywhere. I think I find inspiration by having conversation with people and by walking a lot.
What’s the best thing about being an artist in LA?
I don’t know what the best thing about being an artist in LA, but I think if you can find the time to walk in LA, right now for me, thats the best thing. LA is so sprawling and ridiculous. It has endless texture to it. Its a monster