Matt Davidson

Introducing Matt Davidson, featured artist from Bad Girls Halloween (93), Mermaids Special (87), Halloween Special (80) and Steampunk Special (74).

How long have you been illustrating and what made you start?
I’ve been drawing since I was 4, so I naturally wanted to do it for a living. I’ve been a concept and costume designer at Disney for the past 31 years, primarily for shows and parades around the world for the company. It’s been an amazing and beautiful opportunity to work with global talent- the best in the world!

Where do you get your inspiration?
A good deal comes from literature and movies, and a huge growing stockpile of Pinterest images and online research. For instance, when I first saw Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea I was about 6 or 7 and it hooked me. I thought I was watching history! I had never seen or thought about the existence of a submarine before that. I was consuming Jules Verne books in middle school, a steampunk lover way before it was called Steampunk. When I set up a scene there is always a core story behind the characters, setting and costumes drawn. Even if I don’t know the whole story, I know where it comes from, or where it’s going. The storytelling motivation animates whatever art or design I do.

Where is your favourite place to illustrate?
Usually at my computer with a wireless pen.

What are your illustrating/colouring essentials?
Clip Studio Paint (similar to Corel Painter which I also love), but pencil sketching outside is very freeing and I love that, when it happens…

What’s the piece of work that you’re most proud of or enjoyed doing the most?
Well, professionally, probably a huge set of designs for Tokyo Disneyland’s “Happiness Parade” and some really fun stuff for a steampunk float in Paris Disneyland’s 25th Anniversary Parade. I sometimes spin off ideas from my professional work and use them as jumping-off points for my coloring art. For example, one of my unused designs for a parade later evolved into my “Gearson Girl”, the Perfect Wife robot, where I wanted to poke fun at Victorian chauvinism, ex. “Prof. Higgins”. That’s one of my favorites, but it’s hard to pick one.

Artist's tip

Look at photographic sources, artist and other colorist tips online. Steampunk uses lots of metallic colours and reflections and that’s tough to master. Research is key. For example, for my French Sky Pirate I researched French Dragoon soldier’s helmets to get the details right. Collect resources on coloring with pencils, watercolours, pastels etc. Experiment!

See more from Matt Davidson

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