Scrolling through Moon Patrol's Instagram account is like flipping through a book of voodoo spells. A haunted encyclopedia of cursed beasts. Mutants and science fiction creations scooped up from yesteryear and thrown into the future. The digital collage artist Matt Cunningham has a bounty of fearsome and exotic monsters that he Frankensteined together, often under the cloak of complete silence. I spoke with this prolific visionary about his process, his history with the discipline, and some of his favorite comics and villains.
How long have you been involved in collage art?
About five years or so, though the digital collage thing started about three years ago when I bought Photoshop.
What's the process like for you?
I usually sit down in a silent room (though now my work area is in the living room of our new house, so silence is hard to come by) - I sometimes have a preconceived idea in mind, but often I do not. I start putting things together and just try to see what happens, let the piece put itself together. I stop when I feel that it is done.
How long do you spend on one particular piece?
From two-ish to five-ish hours. Sometimes they shoot out of me. Others I have to put down and come back to later.
What are some studio essentials?
Silence, if I can get it. I really prefer working in a situation where I can hear what's going on in my head.
Do you often have sci-fi visuals playing while you create? Any films/shows/comics that you recommend that might be underrated/lesser known?
No, to the first question. I usually have some feeling or emotion in mind when I create a piece. The sci-fi and horror stuff is just the code or the language that I use to express whatever aspect of the human condition I'm trying to convey. As far as the second part of that question goes, I'm a big fan of Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang. It's put out by Image Comics. The Black Panther reboot by Ta-Nehisi Coates, though I just found out that title is getting canceled. Basically, I'm a big X-Men and Spider-Man guy, so I'm kinda mainstream. Definitely into the Watchmen sequel. It's been great so far, that Doomsday run.
What's 2018 looking like for you?
Went in like I went out of 2017, questioning my creativity, panicking over commissions, having a blast when a piece comes together.
What music have you been listening to recently?
Yo La Tengo.
Outside of collage art, do you have any other hobbies/interests?
Nope. I'm a dad of a two-year-old, so any little free time I get goes to art.
If you had to transform into a monster/villain, which would you choose and why?
The Smoke Monster from Lost. Except I wouldn't want to be stuck on that stupid island.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft? Any final thoughts/words of wisdom?
Experiment, experiment, experiment, and expand. Do different stuff. Don't worry about style (new artists). It'll come to you as you practice your craft.