August 11, 2013

On People: Dale Mathis, Steampunk Artist

Dale Mathis
The Mechanical Playing Card Set

Our first encounter with Dale Mathis was after a private viewing of one his signature art pieces. It was unlike anything we had ever seen in our life. A mix of gears, glass and silver, it was a confluence of every aesthetic movement that had drawn us in. Part abstract, part engineering, part sculpture and part steampunk, Dale Mathis elevated the humble executive desk to a symbol of power and precision. For us it was power, imagination and history in detail, writ large. We had to meet the artist behind the work.
Dale and I in Michelle Jeppesen's birthday.
When we were introduced, we learned that his artwork was emblematic of his effusive personality: he was both wonderfully loquacious, yet spoke with such acuity - a perfect mix of functionality and resonance. We were charmed. We could have spoken to him for hours, about his diverse work, his encouraging life story and his experiences traveling the world for exhibits. 

As an ascendent internationally exhibited artist, working a diverse range of media and with an aesthetic and work process like no other, we were lucky enough to get a few more minutes of Dales’ time.
Quarter Till

Tell us something about yourself. 

Well my name is Dale Mathis, I’m considered a fine artist in the commercial art world. My style of art would be considered Steampunk or for those who are not familiar with titles, it has an Industrial old world look.

Tell us a weird quirk of yours. 
I get my best art Ideas when I’m in the restroom (doing number two)….Lol.

How did you start as an artist? 
I have been an artist as long as I can remember. About 15 years ago a good friend of mine at the time told me I should put my work in galleries. I didn't look at them as art pieces; I just looked at my work as personal projects or something to do on the weekend. He convinced me to let him put one of my works in a gallery. He did and one week later it sold in the gallery for $1000. After that I was bit by the art bug and the rest is history.

St. Jude Children's Hospital Project
Tell us something about your work. 
Most of my work has to do with my personal life in one way or another. Yes when you look at my work it appears to be just moving gears but If you look deeper there is a story there. I consider some of my pieces therapeutic. It seems to move people emotionally in one way or another and in some cases people can relate to my personal story with their own. The best way to deal with situations in life is to talk about it but in my case I build my story into a physical thing. When I was a kid my Mom would tell me I day dreamed a lot but my day dreams became physical things you could, see touch and feel.

Tell us about your typical day at work. 
Well it’s not as glamorous as you would think. Art is a business for me, I employ a lot of people to help me turn my creations into reality. Then there is the marketing side, distribution etc…. I mainly run my art business from the states with only the help of my business partner, personal assistant and accountant. I handle all the sales and marketing states side but all the magic happens in the Philippines with my business partner Cris Venzon and the DMSI team. That’s Dale Mathis Studio Inc. This is where the creative stuff happens.

Astrological Clock
Who or what inspires you and why? 
I get asked this question often; I’m inspired by life, no one individual in particular. I don’t have any role models I can refer too although I am a big fan of Salvador Dali’s work.

What was the best thing that ever happened to you whilst creating your art? 
Creating things are a great experience because everything starts off as a thought, a moment of eureka and evolves into something. It’s that feeling of fulfillment when you see the final thought turned into reality that is the best feeling for me.

Can you let us in on your projects or what you're working on now?
I have come to a point in my life where I’m ready to grow or evolve into the next thing. What I have done so far is great but I’m ready for something new. I have recently been working on smaller projects geared (no pun intended) toward the merchandising side of things. My work is generally priced toward the 1% of society. I have a big fan base and the majority of them tell me that they love my work but cannot afford it just yet and in a lot of cases, never will. I’m working on creating things that still have that Dale Mathis look but on a smaller scale and with a more affordable price tag. I’m about to launch a crowd funding project on the popular Kickstarter web site. I have created the world’s first mechanical 3D Playing card deck. It will be a playing card set that you play with and when you’re done playing cards, instead of putting the cards in your kitchen drawer, you place them in this picture frame designed around the deck of cards and then it becomes fine art, function fine art Dale Mathis style. It’s going to be EPIC..!!

What can you say about the art scene in the Philippines? 
Honestly, I have not seen it where I live in Pampanga. I have read about famous Philippine artist but unfortunately have not had the opportunity to meet any from Manila. I do have a good friend in Pampanga named Melvin Soledad Bongabong. He owns Melvin R. Art Shop in Pampanga and Olongapo. He’s one of the best Portraitists I have seen in the Philippines and musician. He is a true testament to how to succeed as an artist and then to turn it into a profitable business. Smart kid. I’m sure there is an art scene in the Manila area but I have not personally been a part of it. I did attend ManilART 3 years ago and was totally impressed with what I saw there. The show itself was great; the quality of Art was on the same scale as Art Basil Miami which is the premier show for fine art in the US. Hope to attend the show again this year.

What is the most memorable moment you have had as an artist? 
When I did my very first art convention show and sold $80,000 worth of art in 2 days. That was my Aha moment when I remembered people telling me to get a real job back in the day…
This super awesome coffee table
Dale's art in Rustans Makati

What message do you have for aspiring artists? 
It’s a tough business that is if you plan to eat and pay rent from it. Stay strong and don’t give up when people tell you to get a real Job… Lol..! If you live at home with Mom and Dad or your spouse supports you then have fun with it.

How do we contact you?

All images were taken from Dale's Facebook.
Go check him out!
Mark and Millie

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Listening to: Ridin' by Lana Del Rey
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