You may have seen Pastel Heart’s trippy large scale murals around the streets of Durban or seen his flashy fashion pieces on one of your friends. Nonetheless, this man believes in creating beauty, passion and art from his soul.
Pastel: Pastel heart is a visual South African Artist, exploring working in the mediums of graffiti, tattooing, fashion, fine art, chalk art, digital illustration, and pastel heART as a clothing label in collaboration with Bianca Sweetman.
No matter the scale, I make sure I create everyday.
DIY: Do you think working under a moniker/pseudonym gives you more freedom to express yourself as opposed to being confined to the person people know you to be or remember you were? When out and about in public, are you always ‘Pastel Heart’, or are there occasions when you are simply Matthew? When are those occasions?
Pastel: Pastel HeART is not a play on my surname, it is who I am. I do not use a surname these days. Pastel Heart’s description is self-explanatory. Pastel representing soft colour and heART meaning art from your heart. Working under this alias definitely gives me freedom to express as well as confidence in the person I have created, and not the name I have been born with. Who’s Matthew? Every occasion is an opportunity and is a blessed opportunity to be creative as the Artist pastel heART.
DIY: Looking back on your journey so far, what key moments influence the work you create now?
Pastel: My nostalgic key moments in my life are leaving school early to study art, the birth of graffiti began for me at the age of 17 and the first tattoo I did at 21. Of course Durban and South Africa are the biggest influences in my life. I really respect the city from where we have come and where we are going, especially in this short period of time. I think that is something really to be proud of.
DIY: What are you striving for with each mural you create? Impact? Scale? Detail?
Pastel: I am striving to create more positivity and unity, especially in the art scene of Durban. I would also love to create unity between the older generation and the young generation of our motherland. I find that there is so much power struggle, conflict and too many people trying to be the alpha males. When Art is there to enjoy, not to get competitive over. So through doing my art, especially on walls, I feel that there will be unity by showing that graffiti is a form of art and it is positive. It is not just ‘tagging’ and hopefully the older generation will realize that graffiti is not just about vandalizing. To me, and I’m sure to many others, it is about creating beauty, passion and creating art from your soul. It is very spiritual, the moment when you step back to look at what your hands and mind have created is so rewarding.
We have the power to make an impact on our environment. Besides art, it begins verbally. Once the verbal constraints have been broken, it could lead to a more colourful, cleaner, and positive atmosphere. That is my motive as a graffiti artist. I thank God for my gift and I use it everyday and make it flourish through large scale street art or small pencil drawings. No matter the scale, I make sure I create everyday.
DIY: What do you find are the benefits of working on large scale paintings? Is the fact that you don’t have to constrain your ideas to a specific area (like a canvas, a3 page, etc) something that appeals to you? After working on such big areas do you find it difficult, in any way, to work in more specified parameters?
Pastel: As I said earlier, no matter the size, as long as I am creating I am content. I actually find it helpful to change mediums and size parameters, as I am always seeking new inspiration. It is good for my mind to keep changing medium and size, it keeps me creative and never bored. Whether it is doing a photoshoot or fashion with Bi, or painting a wall or a canvas, as long as my creativity is being used, I am happy.
DIY: Do some of the more surreal images in your paintings reflect any specific ideas, or are they chosen purely for their visual aspects? Do you use certain images as a sort of symbolic language which can give the viewer a deeper insight into your personal beliefs and views?
Pastel: I do find that my art represents specific thoughts and ideas although it does fluctuate. Sometimes there are hidden meanings in my art, and other times I do just create purely for visual aspects. There is always one thing that remains constant to me, and that is to remain positive.
Although I am not always aware of the symbolism in the art I am creating at the time, when I take a look at it through another eye, I am able to ‘unpack’ it and realize that there is always symbolism and hidden connotations in my art. Semiotics is a major role in my art as well as in the media. I focus on creating awareness, respect and positivity.
DIY: Why the transition into fashion? Have you always had the interest or have you just grown into it of late?
Pastel: I have always been inspired by fashion. I used to draw out of magazines all the time, and spend so much time reading them, and I have finally been given the opportunity to collaborate with Bianca. We work so well as a team, we both know what we want to achieve and especially when it comes to fashion we work so well together. She has a love for fashion and so do I, so finding someone to work with and to constantly be creative with has been so much fun and such a great opportunity for both of us. I have found it advantageous to branch out by creating pastel heart clothing, as well as doing a lot more fashion shoots and digital fashion work.
DIY: What are some of the challenges you are facing incorporating your art into clothes? How are you overcoming them?
Pastel: Although most of the challenges are not visual or a digital perspective, they are rather about not communicating the brand clearly enough that pastel heART clothing label is a collaboration and a sub brand of pastel heART, which is Art and fashion in one.
DIY: As someone who doesn’t spend most of his time behind a computer screen, in what ways do you think the internet will affect the future generation’s ability to make art?
Pastel: I think the tools of art do not matter, as digital art is just as respected compared to traditional art forms such as oil painting on a canvas.. This new generation will still create Art but the standard could slowly be diluting, as anyone could call themselves an Artist, as the access to art mediums are increasing rapidly. It is easier than ever before to download online tutorials, applications, books and programmes, whereas when I was younger and growing up in school, Visual Artists were seen as people who could draw or paint from talent and practice and not by going on to the internet to learn something. Although I am happy that it is ‘easier’ to become an Artist, as art is an expression of one’s self and I see that as highly positive.
DIY: What have you got in store for 2012?
Pastel: At the moment I am working on numerous mural concepts for the city. We (Bianca and I) are also working hard on our own clothing label. So watch this space.
You can follow what he gets up to over here.