Creative Nottingham logo
Creative Nottingham logo
Artwork by Patrick DolanMore Information

Introducing our new Guest Blogger – Matt Vickerstaff

Matthew Vickerstaff

A warm welcome to our new guest blogger Matt Vickerstaff of Darkwave Art and founding member of Nottingham art collective Danse Macabre. We asked Matt 10 questions to get to know him a little bit better.

Who are you?
My names Matthew Vickerstaff, my business is called Darkwave Art & Design, it’s a music industry specialist design service mainly working within the rock and extreme music genres, although based in Nottingham my clients are all over the world from the UK, USA, France, Portugal, Norway, Germany and many more.

What brought you to Nottingham?
Music, it takes me everywhere, its my greatest inspiration. I studied my art courses (Graphics. Textile Art) at Loughborough Uni so naturally, as most students do after finishing I stayed put and got a job in a record shop. This led to me exploring more and more the album artwork culture and I started getting in touch with labels about producing artwork. Nottingham is home to Earache Records and I started doing some freelance work for them until they offered me a full time position as Designer/Production Manager in 2003 so I moved here.

What keeps you in Nottingham?
Its creative buzz I guess, not just within the art scene but its got such a healthy music scene here too that a lot take for granted. I’ve lived in London for a while but returned to Nottingham as I do love it here. Its my mini London, equally active in so many ways but so much more concentrated and a lot cheaper too. I think I’ll always think of Nottingham as my creative home. I’ve met so many amazing and talented people here.

What makes you different to other creative people in Nottingham?
I’m pretty unique to Nottingham as I produce album covers as a full time job. I also work as a press officer for a record label so I get to work with bands of all sizes which also enables me to put on a mix of events in Nottingham, London and elsewhere. I’ve worked for Record Labels as deigners and production managers, as well as working as a press officer for a label. I’ve worked at Kerrang! Magazine as a Designer so I’ve seen a lot of different sides to the music industry. It gives you a different perspective to what is achievable. I’m pretty bloody minded too, I’m sure I’m not unique there but I really do go for the big dream projects and I’m lucky I have a group of people around me that feed off that energy and support the crazy ideas. I don’t understand not thinking big, sure sometimes smaller projects work best but its always part of a bigger plan. As far as my artwork is concerned, its always pretty dark, the style of music I work for dictates this a lot but in my personal work its always been of a dark nature. I set up a group back in 2006 called Danse Macabre along with Charlotte Thomson and Paul Bowring so that’s also an added string to my bow as it were.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’m currently in the process of working on my new 5 year plan. I’m a pretty busy person and the thing with art is it takes time, you cant upscale productivity, even working on 2 projects at the same time which I sometimes do, its just not possible to make more time so I plan to expand and start taking on designers and expand the business as an agency specialising in the entertainment business. This will also allow me to explore areas other than music, I’d love to get into working on films for example.

What do you wish you had more time for?
More work! I really do love my work but seriously I’d love to just be able to chill out, get some time off but I’ll never get that, if I rest for too long I start up another project so I might as well just work. You sometimes forget its work anyway which I know is rare in most jobs.

What keeps you awake at night?
I think anyone that runs their own business is obviously kept awake at night thinking about all those little boring jobs no one ever warns you about when you go solo. I also have quite vivid dreams so sometimes they wake me then I’m stuck there thinking how could I use that dream for a new piece of work.

What do you think is Nottinghams best kept secret?

That’s a tough one, i’ve written my answer so many times, its hard to see what the best kept secret of Notts is when you are in the thick of it but I do think that the creative buzz and amazing talent in Nottingham is still over shadowed by the unrelenting love the local authority have for Paul Smith and its Contempory Gallery. Not that I think the gallery is a bad thing at all, but closing down any large spaces available for artists to produce self financed exhibitions, in favour of a sexy new gallery unusable by local talent, was a backwards step.

What would you like to see more of in Nottingham?
Gallery space, or at least a large space central to town that could be used for hire to put on some amazing shows, as Danse Macabre, another project I run with two fellow artists we found the reaction from the public to be very supportive but as all the spaces we would usually try and house such a project in have been closed down and local council refusal to budge on rates for short term rent of empty shops, despite full support from the landlords. Its pushed us out of the city centre, sadly it was easier to put on an exhibition in London’s Leicester Square than in Nottingham. In fact it forced us to take a year off from producing the show.

What Big thing are your currently working on?
As mentioned before if I take some time off I tend to end up creating more work. Apart from running the Darkwave Art business full time I’m venturing into a studio project based in New York. I was out there last Oct for a weeks holiday and started an idea to hire a live work unit that could be used by 2 artists with a 3rd guest artists joining us each week. I find New York a very inspiring city, I think on a much smaller scale Nottingham has a similar vibe and I’m planning on trying to link the two. We are also trying to involve artists from across the UK, Europe and Canada too. Its becoming quite the monster project. Just the way I love it! Work wise I’m working on several big projects but I cant really talk about them at the moment, its all part of the contract. This week sees me producing a 64 page 12”x12” book for a band called My Dying Bride celebrating their 20th anniversary, this should look very sexy.

A Big thank you to Matt for joining us as Guest Blogger, read more about Matt’s projects, in particular the New York Project, over the next two weeks.