In Conversation with Matt Jacobson cover photo


In Conversation with Matt Jacobson

by Jeff Davis

Jeff Davis: Hi Matt, it’s great to speak with you! How did you first get into digital art?
Matt Jacobson: I first started making art around 2015 when I discovered bees and bombs and the weird world that was looping GIFs on Tumblr. When I realized that many of these artists were using code to create these things, it blew my mind. I had never been skilled with a paint brush or a pottery wheel but I could most certainly code. Numbers had always made more sense to me than anything else and learning that they could be used as an artistic tool was life changing.
Untitled, Matt Jacobson.gif
Matt Jacobson, Untitled, n.d.
JD: And then how did you personally learn how to use code as a creative tool?
MJ: A year or two after learning about creative coding, I stumbled across this strange group of artists and educators calling themselves the School for Poetic Computation (SFPC). On a whim I applied to attend their ten-week residency program and I was very surprised to hear that I had been accepted. So two weeks later I had essentially quit my job in San Francisco and flown to New York hoping that it was not a scam. It turns out that it was one of the best decisions of my life. It was there in a class taught by Zach Lieberman named Recreating the Past that I learned about the foundations of generative art. We studied the works of Vera Molnar, John Whitney, Ken Knowlton, Lillian F. Schwartz, Nancy Burson, Rosa Menkman, etc. These are the people responsible for my love of generative art.
JD: That sounds amazing, I had no idea something like that existed. How do you feel your creative practice has changed since then?
MJ: In the past few years I think my practice has become more deliberate and purposeful. When I was just starting out, I was really just discovering what was possible with these new tools. At that point it was hard for me to not fall into the "more technical = more beautiful" trap. While I do think complexity can still be magical and inspiring, I don't think it should be the "reason" for a piece. We had a common saying at SFPC: “more poetry, less demo.”
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Matt Jacobson, Vertigo, n.d.
JD: Then how did you eventually discover NFTs and crypto art?
MJ: I discovered NFTs when I came across Dmitri Cherniak’s amazing Ringers project. After some research, it became clear to me that the platform and community that was being built at Art Blocks was truly unique and extremely special.
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Matt Jacobson, Watercolor Dreams, 2021.
JD: That sounds like a good transition to talk about Watercolor Dreams! What was your inspiration for that project?
MJ: I hope it’s obvious that watercolors were a big inspiration. But as the project evolved it became more of a reference point from which I could dig deeper into a few bigger ideas. For example: the process of creation. I think it's easy to look at a Georgia O'Keeffe painting and see beauty, but I think there is just as much (if not more) beauty in how she was able to take a blank canvas and turn it into something brilliant. With Watercolor Dreams I wanted to lay out this often unseen process in all of its glory.
JD: What should collectors look for in your Art Blocks project as the series is revealed?
MJ: I’d say to watch for a few things. Pay attention to how the colors mix—it's a very delicate moment when two collide. Pay attention to how the movement evolves—is everything flowing in one direction or following chaotic currents? And pay attention to the composition - the beginning is just as important as the end.
JD: Any other recent accomplishments you’d like to share?
MJ: I recently got engaged! Hi Esther! ❤️
Engaging the Sympathies, Matt Jacobson.gif
Matt Jacobson, Engaging the Sympathies, n.d.
JD: Anything else people should know to better understand your art? And where can people keep up with artwork?
MJ: I am standing on the shoulders of giants—all of the art I make today is the direct result of work that was done by others before I was even born: Ben Fry/Casey Reas, Muriel Cooper/John Maeda, Georg Nees/Frieder Nake, Man Ray/Marcel Duchamp. To better understand my art, you should first understand the art that came before.
You can find me on Instagram, and I recently joined Twitter.
JD: Thanks, I’m looking forward to the drop!
First published 28 April 2021:

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