Meet Matt Dawson: drug-dealer by day and purveyor of nerd-related arts by night. At least, that’s how Matt, a pharmacist who lives with his family in central Louisiana, describes himself. “Producing paintings of Abraham Lincoln dressed as Randy Macho Man Savage makes more sense coming from a guy who sells dime bags of ‘H’ to strung-out homeless people rather than one who talks to little old ladies about their bowel movements all day,” Matt jokes.
Dawson grew up in Natchitoches, Louisiana and was active in the art community there in the ‘90s. Work and life drew him away from the art world for some time, but now he’s happy to be creating again, currently finding inspiration in comic books, television, and film. Though he enjoys painting landscapes and abstracts, it’s the whimsical and humorous takes on pop culture figures from the eighties that influences Dawson’s work at the moment. “I have a lot of good memories from that decade. So in my Presidential Badass series I’m trying to keep all the mashup references to things associated with the eighties.” (Matt’s Presidential Badass series is made up of hilarious interpretations of U.S. presidents, like his painting of Abraham Lincoln dressed in outlandish pro-wrestler gear, complete with a gaudy championship belt.) Pop icons like GI Joe, Transformers, and Star Wars entities are popular themes in his work. “I saw artists like Brandon Bird doing amazing pop culture art and I thought, This is what I want to do.”
Matt’s most popular work to date is “Chewie Knievel”, a mashup of the beloved Star Wars character Chewbacca and American daredevil Evel Knievel. Art collectors have responded to the piece enthusiastically, and he has sold prints of it all over the world.
The artist is completely self-taught. Matt wisecracks, “I’d like to be able to say [lack of training] helped me break out of the box and see things from a non-conventional point of view and express myself with methods that I didn’t learn in some school, man! But the fact is I do wish I had the training that a lot of artists that I admire have. But I made up for it and learned techniques from studying books, videos and the work of the masters.” Matt believes his lack of formal instruction contributes to his loose, impressionistic style.
Dawson is currently working on a series of vintage-style signs for the numerous fictional locations found in the Star Wars universe, such as the “Mos Eisley Cantina” and “Hoth Ranger Station.” He is also immersed in the creation of the next subject of his Presidential Badass series.
You can find Matt’s work on display at the Chaos Theory show at the Henning Cultural Center in Sulphur, Louisiana through November 26th. He has thirteen pieces in the show. Other works are available in his online shop at www.etsy.com/shop/MattDawsonArt. The artist’s online portfolio can be found at MattDawsonArt.com, and fans can track his current works in progress on Instagram at @saintrph.