City Series Berlin: Surface Designer Matt Manson

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The first time we crossed paths with British illustrator and surface designer Matt Manson was while working on our City Series London installment. We partnered with Brooklyn’s Flavor Paper for the liner artwork and worked closely with Matt on the pattern development. For our Berlin City Series, we worked with Matt to develop a pattern mash up of Chrome’s take on Berlin.

What exactly is Surface Design?
As a surface designer my main role is to provide graphic/illustrative solutions to products and surrounding environments.  For example I am often asked to provide wallpapers, carpets and feature graphics for restaurants or hotels that fit in with the their branded identities.

Can you tell us a little about your background and how you began your career?
I was born and raised in Bristol, England. Bristol is a small but culturally rich city about 2 hours from London.  Growing up in Bristol in the late 80s and throughout the 90s I was exposed to the local music and graffiti scene.  Bristol is the original home to bands/producers such as Massive Attack, Portisthead, Roni Size and artists such as Banksy so I grew up around some of England's best counter-cultures from an early age.

In my early 20s wanting to see more of England I relocated to London to study surface design at the University of Arts London. I quickly set up base in Brixton. Brixton was a part of London I was already familiar with as I was often visiting for the local party scene so it felt like a natural relocation.

What are your influences?
Originally my main influence and focus was graffiti, tagging and generic vandalism.

Nowadays I also draw influence from underground comics, the arts and crafts movement of the 1860s and roots reggae.

Do you have something that inspires your designs?
Life, people, the past and the future it all inspires.

What was it like interning at Flavor Paper and Nobrow?
When I first started to studying I wanted to intern as much as possible.  I wanted to get the intern stuff under my belt quickly and start getting paid.

Interning at Flavor Paper was amazing. I spent a summer living in Brooklyn, found a squat to live in.

After moving back to London I hooked up with the Nobrow guys and spent the winter screenprinting.

In the mean time I managed to get a student visa to get back to the States. I moved back to Brooklyn to work again at Flavor Paper for 6 months.

You're currently living in Amsterdam, how did you end up there?
I moved back to London and spent a year working as a freelancer. I managed to get a few projects in motion and kept growing my portfolio.  Then an opportunity to work at Marcel Wanders as a surface pattern designer came up.

I relocated to Amsterdam 6 months ago...

What was the inspiration behind the Berlin City Series? Tell us about that project.
The inspiration was lederhosen, beer and Bavarian needlework.

I looked to the city's cycle culture and squat scene for inspiration and got some mood boards together.  From then on  I had my references to base my work on and developed a few ideas.

To see more of Matt's work, please check out his website.