Editor's Note: Supporting local has always been something that is extremely important to us. As our company’s namesake comes from Fayetteville, AR itself, we find it important to daily convey the unique spirit that makes Fayetteville Fayetteville. Our favorite form of doing so is through tee art.
Tee shirts are, without any great surprise, the bread and butter of Fayettechill and they have been since the beginning. But what we feel sets them apart, what keeps the Fayettechill Family growing year after year, is the ever evolving art on our tees. We’re proud that this year’s collection of Spring tees features designs by three iconic Fayetteville artists, Matt Miller, Chad Maupin, and Joelle Storet. We figured-- no better way to present the spirit of our region than through the minds and creations of three locals. Over the next week we’ll be featuring each of the three local artists that contributed to this line.
To kick the series off, meet Matt Miller, a finance major gone self-taught artist & local skate shop x gallery owner that uses painting as a means toward self-exploration & understanding of the human condition.
FC: Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you lived in NWA? Tell us about your journey as an artist.
Matt: I’ll give you the short version :) After a summer exchange program in Costa Rica I moved to NWA in 2005 to finish my International business degree at the University of Arkansas. A couple major changes later I ended up with a Finance Degree in 2007. So I took the obvious next step after a finance degree, and decided to pursue an artistic career. I always felt pulled towards an artistic career, but for some reason I didn’t want to seek it through the University system. I just had an idea that my journey was not that direction. I’ve been a full time artist in the NWA community ever since. NWA really seemed like a supportive community of the arts, surrounded by natural beauty, and good people so I could really see myself staying here a while.
Really for me the artistic path is not so much about achieving one thing or another as an artist, but who I become in the pursuit of it. I make my art about the internal work we all must do to grow as human beings, create through those inspired intentions, and connect that with my audience.
My favorite type of creative work is the process of the work itself, usually in the form of a painting. I enjoy working on large canvases or walls because it allows more involvement with each piece.
When I create a painting, whether it has a subject or is more abstract, I use it as time for self reflection and cognitive dissection of my experiences. The meaning of the work starts with experiences through literature, music, time in nature, and conversations about this moment we all share as humans. I reflect these interactions and interpret them through my subconscious mind as I create each painting. This process then starts to act as a memory bank of the knowledge I’ve collected. The work really acts as a time capsule of my experiences, as well as a reflection of the human condition of our time. It’s kind of a filtering system of knowledge transferring it into wisdom and action.
FC: You designed the Topochillo mandala tee for us this season. Can you tell us a little about your journey connecting with Fayettechill + your inspiration behind this design?
Matt: This is actually my second design for Fayettechill. As far as the original collab, it was really a natural progression being in the same community as Fayettechill. Mo and I met up in the studio, looked over some paintings and sketches, and chose a couple that lined up with where I was artistically and where Fayettechill was as a company, and we made it happen. Mo was very intuitive in choosing the designs. The ones I had designed specifically for the brand he looked past, and instead gravitated toward the ones that communicated my natural journey as an artist; work that was created purely for the process of creating it. So that’s what we placed in the Fayettechill collection.
This piece (Topochillo) in particular was inspired by time spent in nature, and is about accepting change. Changing of the season, evolving as a human beings, and letting nature guide us. The mandala style is really about letting go of attachment, allowing the change to take place inside, and coming full circle into who we’re meant to become. It’s about being receptive to what is, and not holding on to what you thought was. All is temporary, so enjoy it, use it, and be present in it.
FC: Tell us about your role as an artist in NWA. What psychs you up as far as the local art scene goes?
Matt: As far as my role in the NWA artistic community goes, it is an ongoing evolution. I just like to add some stoke to the fire and encourage artists and kids that enter my studio/skateshop to follow their internal guides, listen to their artistic desires/inspirations, and don’t fear the expression of it. Just make it happen!
I’m currently working with a few other artists on a mural initiatives as well as a beautification projects around Fayetteville. Those are in the works now and will be popping up all over NWA soon. What excites me about the NWA art community is the desire to make art happen and how deep the creative fabric runs through our community. Most people in the NWA community understand the intrinsic value that art brings to an environment, and I find that to be an intangible foundation in a great community like NWA.