Some things that have influenced Dominic Myatt over the years: a life size Egyptian sarcophagus, tattoos, animals, his ex, scars, Marquis de Sade, and his parents. A self-professed ‘occasional model’, having been shot by Mert & Marcus for LOVE Magazine and by Cleo Glover for Boys by Girls, he’s actually most comfortable sitting in an artful mess on the floor.
With a Fine Art and History of Art degree from Goldsmiths he’s earned a name for himself in the illustration world with his tongue-in-cheek active nudes and uneasy animal visuals. As well as curating a selection of his own work for ACS, we spoke to him about magpie salutes, dream-cheating and animal reproduction-themed zines…
Can you remember the first time / thing you drew?
The first thing I can fully remember drawing was a life size Egyptian sarcophagus onto a big cardboard box that me and my neighbours would hide in and jump out of to scare each other. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old as it wasn’t long after the film, ‘The Mummy’, came out.
Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking and your art?
I think it goes without saying that my parents have had a huge influence on my outlook on life and my artwork. I also think my ex, who I was with for a while throughout my formative years made me think just as seriously about my drawing and illustration work as I did about the conceptual work I was making at college and university at the time
Do you have any rituals you have to do when you’re drawing?
I don’t really have any rituals, though I’m usually on my knees on the floor when I’m drawing, which is quite uncomfortable, as my desk is usually a complete mess. I’ve done that so often now that I’ve just got used to drawing like that.
How would you describe your approach?
I usually approach most projects with a big ream of paper in front of me (on the floor) and just start sketching, usually starting with fountain pen or brush (rigger) and ink. There is always A LOT I dislike and I throw so much of my work away as I’m unhappy with it. It takes a while to get something right, and quite often after hours of drawing and frustrating attempts at perfecting something I go back to the initial sketch and find that I’m actually happy with that.
Which picture did you have the most fun drawing?
A picture I did on the wall of my friends room in the first year of university, it was an abstract drawing of her then boyfriend laying an egg.
What are the rules of the world in which your characters exist
There are no rules.
What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?
Tattoos. I suppose it is feeding very literally into my work as I have recently bought a tattoo gun and I’ve been teaching myself how to do it.
What prompted you to start drawing some of your more adult imagery? Were you drawn to exploring the topic of sex through illustration?
I think I’ve always drawn quite grotesque and drawings from a young age, I think it comes from the school boyish aim to try and draw and the most disgusting thing you can to amuse your friends.
And I think as I grew up and learnt about sex and other adult themes then this began to play a part in the obscene imagery I was making – especially as I realised how visceral a reaction it evoked in the audience.
Do you think illustration can shock or arouse as vividly as mediums such as photography / film?
I think it can do, though does not most of the time.
What is the relevance of the animals in your work?
I think the animals represent an unease, the insects especially so – they speak of anxiety and fear and are always on the edge looking in or sometimes directly involved in the subject. Whenever I’m drawing an animal in a piece, that is staring at a human, I’m always reminded of a lecture at university with talked about the French philosopher Derrida, who when undressing was being watched by his cat and the unease and shame he felt.
What techniques or materials would you like to explore in the future?
Definitely more tattooing. I’d also like to work more digitally and create animations.
Do you have any superstitious beliefs or rules that you live by?
It’s ridiculous but I always salute a magpie if I see it on its own, and always cross my fingers when I walked over three drains.
Can you describe the last dream you had?
I could make up something fantastical but in reality, unfortunately, the last dream I had was me being cheated on.
What new projects have you got coming up?
I’m just about to start on a photo project on scars and I’m also working on some small zines, one based on adverts I’ve found on craigslist and one on animal reproduction…
If you could hang out with one person, living or dead, who would that be? What would you do?
There is so many people I can think of, but I would love to have been friends with the Marquis de Sade and have him ask me to illustrate all his original manuscripts.