We had the good fortune of connecting with Matt Verges and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Matt, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
When I first started out, it was before I had a family. I was able to work until the wee hours of the morning, and still have energy for a separate work and social life. I had more time to ruminate on ideas, research them and really flesh them out mentally. This gave me a lot of room to develop as an artist, and build a business framework to start selling my work full time. Nowadays, with kids, and having to maintain a social media presence, I don’t have nearly as much time to create. I have to be very careful to use my time wisely. For this, I try to compartmentalize as much as possible, so I can just sit down to work and get going as quickly as possible. Luckily, I laid that groundwork early on. I have a large backlog of art from earlier in my career that still sells well, and there isn’t so much pressure to put out new work all the time. I still try to create as much as possible, and I love innovating new merch for that older artwork to go on. It is nice when my work can bleed over into my family life though. I love getting to draw or paint with my kids, or explore new creative ideas with my wife.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Most of my work is illustrative nature scenes, usually depicting dark or surreal aspects of animal lives and folklore. I am a digital artist mostly, although I have been getting back into pen and ink drawing and painting lately. Recently I’ve been working on a series of ink illustrations drawn directly onto animal skulls. My goal is to highlight the relationship between predator and prey, and the delicate web of life we are all a part of. I’ve been drawing my entire life. I’ve always been “that kid hunched over a sketchbook”. I would give the advice “draw everyday” but I realize that’s not always possible. Maybe instead, I’ll say find something creative that inspires you everyday. For me it can be movies, music, or books. Maybe it’s something my kid says that makes something just click in a different way in my brain. You can find inspiration in the smallest things. You can be a great artist in a technical sense, but if you don’t have that extra oomph, that creative inspiration, your work will fall flat. That’s what truly gives artwork a beating heart.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a personal favorite places in Denver. There are so many quiet nooks and crannies there on a low traffic day. I don’t get to do it as much as I used to, but I love to just find one of the dioramas off the beaten path and do some wildlife sketches, “from life”. There is so much to be inspired by in there. Our zoo is great too, the reptile halls are a personal fave. Denver also low key has some of the best food! You may be able to find green chili all over the Southwest, but I think the thing that makes it unique in Denver is the way we basically use it as a condiment. You can put it on anything! I don’t even care where you get it, it’s always good. Watercourse has some mind blowing vegan food, and I’m not even vegan so you know it’s amazing. I also love the fry-bread tacos at Tocabe, and that’s something unique you can’t find in just any city. One of my favorite spots in Denver is Black Sky Brewery on Santa Fe. The pizza is great, the beer selection is fun and diverse, and as a metalhead, the ambiance is right up my alley. They’ve also been gracious enough to allow me to hang my work on their walls. Outside of the city, one of my favorite places is Strawberry Hot Springs outside of Steamboat Springs. I love to relax in some hot water and get lost in thoughts about that heat bubbling up from beneath the Earth. Afterward, I feel like I have celestial machinery pounding lava through my veins.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There’s definitely no way I would be where I am without the help and support of Red Wolf Gallery/Artist Collective. Red Wolf was the first gallery I started showing at in Denver, and It blossomed into a multi-year series of shows and mutual support. Red wolf has morphed during coronavirus from an actual space to more of a loose collective of local artists. I think a physical space is still in the works for us someday, but until then we still offer each other ideas, critique, and a pool of resources to help us each on our individual artistic journeys. It can be cutthroat out there for any independent creative, and it’s nice to have friends that have my back.