When you find yourself before images which strike you without knowing why, that means you’re looking at something interesting, that reawakens a part of your subconscious.
That’s how Matt Cunningham explains the sense behind his work, images which – starting with references ot old police series, horror movies or faces of respectable ladies – reveal something strange surfacing from their depths. And now it’s time for everyone to choose their own surprise head!
You can read the full interview by M. Baleni on the current issue of Tattoo Life
Your reference points or inspiration are images from the 70s and 80s: from the faces of the women of the American Dream to horror movies and comics as well as the police genre of the time. Why did you choose this kind of imagery? Is there some kind of link with your own experience?
I grew up during the ’80s and ’90s: Atari 2600, Nintendo, Dungeons & Dragons, Stephen Spielberg movies like E.T., horror movies like Nightmare on Elm Street. Comic books – these all affected me when I was very young. I was a total nerd. Later, hip-hop DJs and turntablists like DJ Hurricane and Kid Koala affected me, the idea that you could take existing sounds, break them apart, and reassemble them into something new.
That’s what I do with the images.I try to use anything and everything that’s available
As long as it’s a found image, it’s potentially useful. There’s a lot of pulp art out there, like old paperback covers (westerns, horror, sci-fi, romance), religious illustrations, scientific and medical books, children’s’ books, advertisements, movie posters, engineering magazines – any of it can be broken down and combined into some new image that has a new and unique narrative.
Why did you choose Moon Patrol as a pseudonym? What does it mean?
I had just opened up an Instagram account to post my art because my wife said posting to my friends and family on Facebook was dumb. So I opened up an IG account, but I needed a name for it. I was walking to the grocery store one day, and I was walking past this junk store that fixes old arcade games, and they had an old Atari Moon Patrol cabinet game sitting there. The rest is history.
How did you end up working with Pearl Jam on their 2018 tour?
One of their 3rd-party merch companies reached out to me and asked if I’d be open to a commission. I actually said no, because I didn’t feel ready to do anything, but they circled back and kind of talked me into it. I’m glad they did, as it was a great learning experience. I ended up learning some technical stuff that I would not have learned otherwise.
What other brands have you collaborated with during your career?
Son of the Cheese in Tokyo came out with this awesome clothing line for Spring/Summer 2018 last year. It was this boutique high-end clothing line that was awesome – one of the shirts ended up on Hypebeast, and that was my experience with the fashion world. I’d work with them again – they were pretty quality. Mastodon has a couple of shirt with my designs. A couple of skateboard companies have some decks out with my designs. Otherwise, it’s just been art prints with galleries like Outre Gallery, House of Roulx, Arch Enemy Arts…
You’ve got nearly 200 thousand followers on Instagram. But very little is known about you. Where do you live and work, Matt? What shows have you done? Or where can we really go and meet Moon Patrol? What kind of guy is he?
I am a husband, dad, and a high school English teacher, to various degrees of success. I make art at night or during any free time I have as a way to unwind and have some fun. My wife and I have a newborn son as well as a 3-year-old daughter, so we don’t sleep, and my art sessions are farther and fewer between these days.
A lot of people around me don’t know I do this art thing, so it’s kind of like a secret identity (sort of).
I live in Northern California, an hour outside of San Francisco, but I am originally from Washington State, and the Northwest will always be where my roots are. I have a piece in an awesome show at Outre Gallery in Melbourne right now. The show is called Within The Garden of Earthly Delights, and it’s got this great lineup of artists inspired by Hieronymus Bosch. I have four pieces at another group show at Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans later this month. I’m pretty stoked about that, too. You can find my work at their websites, or if you’re able to visit the galleries. Otherwise, my goal is to get more sleep and to keep making art until I can’t.