An Interview with a Surrealist Artist: Alberto Matsumura
We’ve always tried to feature artists on Design Instruct whom we think the community will appreciate. We look for artists who get their hands dirty, who know what it’s like to be a career creative, and who, most importantly, do fantastic work. Our latest artist feature definitely checks those boxes. Meet Alberto Matsumura.
An artist who hails from Spain, Alberto Matsumura’s Japanese-sounding name adds a bit of mystery of his already enigmatic work. Alberto’s project, Hipersurrealistica, was started in 2014 and is now well on its way to being a body of work to be reckoned with. There are touches of H.R. Gieger, Escher, and Dali in his work. And he displays an impressive sense of scale and geometry in his compositions.
Alberto’s penchant for bizarre and surreal imagery begs the viewer to inspect the images more closely, drawing them in to offer a window into the artist’s subconscious, revealing a wondrous and epic view.
His large scale illustrations can take up to 2 months to complete and are all illustrated with a 3-pixel digital brush on a graphics tablet. It’s definitely a modern and contemporary workflow applied to a thoroughly 20th century artistic movement which opens up so many new opportunities to be creative. We are deeply impressed by Alberto’s work and we urge all of you to take a look.
We decided to ask Alberto some questions about his work. Here’s our interview below.
Design Instruct: Tell us about Hipersurrealistica. How did the project get started and why?
Alberto Matsumura: Hipersurrealística started a couple years ago, about january 2014. How and why it started is not clear to me. Probably, I decided to heed those voices we all hear inside of us that tell us what we must do, instead of what it is we are supposed to do. I remember myself drawing since I was a child, but I never thought about drawing as a way of life, or at least, I was never made to think about drawing as a way of life. Unfortunately, the meaning of success I was taught was quite far from: “believe in yourself and do what you feel.” I was always pushed to want to have lot of money and to be an important businessman. So I decided to fire myself from my work as a creative manager and start drawing as I never did before.
DI: The imagery you use in your pieces is complex and really out-of-this-world. Could you tell us more about how you approach each composition? How do you find the inspiration for each piece?
AM: I like to draw with no initial idea, with no prejudices. It’s very exciting to draw without knowing how it is going to end. You just let the picture take control and let the subconscious drive you wherever it takes. It’s really amazing to get at the end without knowing how you got there.
Inspiration doesn’t exist, it’s not real. Not the way most of people think about it. Most people think it’s a kind of magic and some people use the word “inspiration” to explain something that can not be explained. I usually spend around 12 hours a day drawing — some days even more. That, to me, is inspiration. Of course, you can take some ideas from here and from there, but the “real inspiration” is the hard work.
DI: Your illustrations are incredibly detailed and are done at an pretty impressive scale. Could you describe how you create these works?
AM: I used to draw with ballpoint pens and pencils, but my mother gave me a Wacom Intuos for my birthday a few years ago and it changed my point of view about drawing. By using these tools I am not limited by the measurements of the paper and I can make a drawing as big as I want. But the best part is that I can take my studio with me everywhere, I just need my tablet and my computer.
The complexity of my drawings has been growing since my first pieces of Hipersurrealística. Actually, I am spending about 2 mounths on each piece now so it’s going to take me few years to finish my collection.
DI: We noticed you work on 120cmx80cm sheets, that’s a pretty big canvas to work with. Is there a reason you chose to work at that scale?
AM: Every piece of “Hipersurrealística” collection is black and white, printed on Forex (a kind of PVC) and 120x80cm. They all are limted to 16 prints each, signed and numbered. As I said before, working with a Intuos and a computer gives me the freedom of choosing the dimensions I want. I don’t want my artworks to be seenas a painting, but as a drawing on a white paper. So that’s the main reason I chose to work at that scale.
DI: We can imagine that making these pieces involves a lot of skill and a certain measure of difficulty. Could you tell us about some of the challenges of working on this project and how do you get past them?
AM: The hardest challenges of this project aren’t actually technical but psychological. You have a lot of doubts when you decide to do something like this. I’m going to spend more than 5 years drawing on this collection. I’m going to edit a book when the collection is over. That’s a lot of time to think about what I’m doing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m following the right way, and sometimes I wonder if I’m going to have any result, or if all of this is going to be wasted time. Doubts are good though. They make you not lower your guard, but sooner or later you have to deal with them and you have to be strong enough to keep on walking.
DI: Tell us your origin story. How did you get started doing what you do?
AM: I’m a self-taught “artist”. I’ve been drawing all my life as a hobby, but not as a job.
I’m not really an art lover, so I’ve not been involved in this world. This is my first serious work in art. I’m more interested in quantum physics, philosophy, Greek mythology, astronomy and science and technology in general. Even though I guess you can see some influences of artists like M.C. Escher, El Bosco, Dalí, Pieter Van Der Heyden, Richard MacDonald or H.R. Gieger.
DI: Can you share a piece of advice to our readers you’ve gained through your work on Hipersurrealistica?
AM: Those things that others find to be the cause of my madness are, precisely, those things that keep me sane. It means that whenever someone tells you that you’re crazy for doing what you do, you have to think that you are in the right way.