You have to love the distinctive styles some artists are able to create. Styles that immediately make you go… oh yeah that’s that kat. This truly applies when talking about Matt Wilkins, aka @matt_sabbath. Being an artist myself, I appreciate someone like this. He has honed his style and skill set to develop a style that is instantly recognizable. Matt has been creating art for bikers, bands and country western stars for a few years now. He is also a member of the artist collective known as the Mystical Freaks.
Bold designs that speak volumes… and create images that stay with you. Matt has designed both posters and t-shirts for bike events in the UK and Europe such as the Hook Up Chopper Show. His work with the Waylon Jennings brand speaks volumes. If Shooter Jennings trust Matt with this so should you. Along with bands, moto brands, and even alcohol companies like Soundgrowler Brewing and Fireball Whiskey have also reached out to Matt, his work is everywhere. We had a chance to ask him a few questions, sit back, spark up and enjoy.
Choppers Magazine: So Matt, I have known you for quite some time… tell us what got you into the UK chopper scene and then doing art for so many people around the world.
Matt Sabbath: Hey Mike, yeah, it’s been a while! I’ve always gone to classic car and bikes shows for as long as I can remember but got more into the chopper scene when I started working for a lot of companies/brands involved in it. Then I started having stalls and exhibiting my work at shows like the Trip Out, Hook Up, Assembly and some over in Europe like Flanders, Art & Wheels and Matchlight.
CM: You have developed a distinctive style, instantly recognizable. Give us a little about your background and how you developed your style and what things have inspired you and your style?
MS: Thanks! It’s always so good to hear when people can recognize my work, I try to keep similar elements throughout so it can be distinctive. It all kind of started about 9 years ago from posting a few sketches online, I guess it got some attention from some bands. Commissions ended up rolling in and a few years later I started doing it full time, then it just kept on going till this day.
I get really inspired by so many different areas when it comes to art. From the art nouveau movement to 60s-70s rock posters, then onto the 80s skateboard graphics, traditional tattooing, and old horror comic books, just to name a few.
CM: Are there any other individuals who have inspired you or helped you along the way? I know you are part of the chopper artist collective called The Mystical Freaks that have some individuals who have inspired each other to produce great work… people like Zac from HEAVY… Davy Gant out of Kansas City and recently artist Russel Murchie from Australia.
MS: Of course, a bunch of the Mystical Freaks have definitely helped me along the way and have given me that push to keep evolving my own work. All of them are rippers! So many artists are killing it these days from the likes of Austin Maples, Boss Dog, Julien Jaca, Daniel Sheridan, EZ, Sami Greystone and Jay Holmes.
CM: What has been the biggest buzz for you?
MS: Getting to work with so many rad people on different projects, it’s always cool when a band or brand that I admire hits me up. It’s connected me to a lot of like-minded folks and given me the opportunity to travel quite a bit, hopefully to more places soon, once the world opens up again.
CM: Tell us about your process for creating your work…Does it involve naked ladies and loud Black Sabbath records playing in the background?
MS: Oh I wish! If only it was like that every time, but there sure is a lot of Black Sabbath playing in the background! I try to keep as much of it analog as I can, I draw all the black linework with pen and ink on paper, then I scan that in and add the color digitally so the design can be ready for its use, whether that’s shirts, album covers, posters, etc.
CM: You have created some great art for the chopper scene…do you have a favorite piece? Also tell us about the music artists you’ve done work for…Waylon Jennings is a pretty big thing right! And wow a beer can design too!
MS: For sure, music’s always been a huge thing for me, from heavy metal to country and everything in between. It was definitely a trip to get to do a bunch of official Waylon Jennings merch and then some for another country legend Johnny Paycheck. I’d say my most favorite designs are the album covers that I’ve done, it’s always a huge honor seeing my work on the front of a record sleeve.
CM: Has moving from London to Barcelona helped you and your art? I know it’s a pretty impressive place having visited it in the past…anything that’s helped inspire you and is there a cool chopper scene nearby?
MS: I’m constantly blown away with how amazing Barcelona is, I’m sure it’s helped me get inspired for my work also. Just going around the streets and seeing all the insane architecture definitely gets ideas rolling in my mind.
I was looking forward to checking out the local chopper scene at the Old and Proud motorcycle show but that was another show that got cancelled, next year should be cool! My good friend Marcos at Free Custom Cycles is nearby and Mattias (Le Beef) has just moved a short way down the coast too. There’s also ‘Good Motorcycles’ building some killer bikes in Barcelona, I’m sure his panhead was on the cover of a previous Choppers mag issue.
CM: Have you managed to get another bike since the move and if not what’s the dream machine?
MS: Unfortunately not yet, the bike is back in the UK, hopefully I’ll get something out here soon. The mountains and coastal roads of Costa Brava look perfect for a ride! Dream machine…that’s a tough one. Either a panhead or a pre-unit Triumph. I’d love to own and build an old Triumph chopper someday.
CM: Are there any styles of work you’d like to take a dip into trying like spray painting your style of work to gas tanks and rear fenders etc?
MS: I’ve painted some helmets and jerry cans for bike shows in the past, which was a learning curve for sure! But I’d like to try more of that, painting a full tin set for a bike sure would be cool. Something I want to get into soon is some much larger scale paintings on big canvases.
CM: So what’s on the horizon for Matt Sabbath moving forward?
MS: I’ve got some projects in the works that I’m really stoked to be a part of, but I can’t reveal too much just yet. For the future I just hope to keep on doing what I’m doing, still loving every minute of it!
So there you have it folks, the lowdown on a swell artist I’m happy to call a friend and fellow Mystical Freak. Matt’s work is as good as it gets and if you get it, go get some.
Interviewer in Chief