Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Interview: Matt Wes

We have two new sticker packs out, each with five stickers and a custom-designed label. One is by Sideburn regular Maxwell Paternoster, the other from new collaborator Matt Wes. I met Matt when I attended the first Mama Tried Show in Milwaukee, in early 2014. He was the tattooing in the show and wearing an old Sideburn hoodie (before he got too hot). His illustration style is wild and soaked in colour, featuring chubby monsters, waxen skulls, heavy-browed panthers, multi-teated bats... Certainly no Winnie the Pooh with a balloon. I always thought it would make great stickers and finally got around to it.

Get these limited edition stickers packs from the New Arrivals section of the Sideburn shop. We've redesigned the shop, so have a snoop around.

Here's a quick interview we did with Matt. He wrote the captions for his photos too.

Who are you, where you from and where are you at? 
My name's Matt Wes and I came from hardcore punk, graffiti and skateboarding in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I'm currently living in Oakland, California tattooing at the best shop I've ever worked at FTW Tattoo Parlor. Still skating and going to shows as much as possible.
This is from the first Mama Tried where you and I first met. That's Scott Fuel, one of the show's founders getting tattooed.

Do you ride bikes?
Yes I do. The weather in the Bay Area is great for riding motorcycles though I do miss riding my '89 YZ250 on frozen lakes with my Wisconsin buddies. Bikes I own: 1979 Yamaha XS650; 1972 Yamaha DS7; 1977 XT500 flat track bike; 1970s Yamaha RD350 in a champion frame.

How would you describe your illustration style and what influenced it?
What I try to do with art is take a traditional tattooing technique and apply it to not so traditional subjects. There are a lot of tattooers I'm influenced by. When I was 15 or 16 I saw an article in International Tattoo Art magazine about Jeff Rassier and that was sort of the beginning of knowing what I wanted to do with tattooing. There are so many names I could list, but mostly I like tattoos that look like tattoos. Aside from that I look at a lot of old action figures, toys, skateboard graphics and old D and D [Dungeons and Dragons] art and try to make tattoos out of it.

What do you miss about Milwaukee?
I miss my friends mostly. I was part of a great shop called The Valley where we all hung out and worked on bikes. I could also go to my hometown motorcycle shop Red Line Cycles and hang out with Tony Giorno and my buddy Don Lupi and shoot the shit about flat track racing. I haven't found a shop space here in California and my welder and other tools are in my closet at the moment. Also Milwaukee is the city where you can find an above average cup of coffee almost everywhere you go and I miss that.
Riding across the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee on the XS. Photo by Death Science Dusty 

What's your dream bike?
Before I moved I was building a flat track bike out of a '77 XT500 using one of my dad's frames. That bike will be a dream come true if I ever finish it!

Motorcycle hero? 
My dad is probably my motorcycle hero. The first time I ever rode on the ice was when I was 3 or 4 years old. He'd sit me on the tank and we'd go rip around on a frozen lake somewhere. I've learned a lot about bikes from him and he's still racing and going fast in his 60's. A close second is Terry Vestal because he's a mad man and has given me more tips for racing than almost anybody else.
This photo was taken in 1982 or 83. At an ice race probably in Wisconsin but I'm not sure of the lake. Maybe Silver Lake, WI or Twin Lakes, WI or someplace further north. My mom took it. I was less than a year old. I may have only been eight months old. My dad still races that bike. It's a DT250 Yamaha I think (could be a YZ though). Brakeless. He's running a compression release lever on it these days, but I don't know if he was back then. I remember when I was 5 or 6 helping him stud his tires for the ice and also pushing this bike up the basement steps to get to the van by myself for the first time at 10 or so. I wish I knew more about photos from the time period.

Finish this sentence, Racing is life...
 ...go fast as fuck!
 My first vintage race at Wauseon Ohio two summers ago. On my friend Don Lupi's XT500. 

See more of Matt's tattoos and artwork at his website: pvzzledpanther.com or on instagram @pvzzled_panther

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