Matteo Berton talks about his bold, striking style and the illustrations for Timberland’s “Let’s Get Lost”

We featured him before, we feature him again. The guy simply has too many good work to miss. Matteo Berton possesses this strangely compelling illustrating technique – a combination of big shapes and thin lines done in dry, coarse brush strokes. So we contacted him hoping to know more about his secret sauce. It’s a pleasure to have him talk about what he loves most. Enjoy!

Hi Matteo! First tell us something about yourself and what you’re passionate about.

I’m an illustrator from Pisa, Italy. Recently I got a motorbike, let’s see if my wrists make it by the end of the year!

You’ve got quite a distinctive and gorgeous style. How did you find it?

Much of the way I conceive an image comes from an early period when my approach was less personal and more academic, and I was still using traditional tools instead of Photoshop.

Suddenly I had to work on big sized black and white illustrations, a series that later on I called “a stroke journey”. I was looking for a way to avoid spending a lot of time filling all the paper with little straight lines, as my most used tool back then was a pen.

So I started splitting the images, leaving big empty spaces and I found that this helped me a lot in managing the “weights”, so that I have slowly begun to put more and more attention in the composition. And today it is almost everything I think of while working on a new illustration.

Of course “a stroke journey” was also an occasion to experiment with brushes. I mainly focused on the mix of thin, straight lines and wide, dry brush strokes, a contrast that I still love to find, even if simplified, between lines and shapes in my recent works.

We really love the narrative-rich illustrations for the project “Let’s Get Lost” for Timberland. How did you decide the arrangement, the story, and the context for each featured city?

Working on the “Let’s Get Lost” travel guide has been a great pleasure. Because apart from general directions about the mood and the featured cities, the guys at Circular, who art directed the project, gave me almost total freedom. The images had to suggest a few simple themes like travelling, relaxing and getting lost, which I could easily manage while having the opportunity of focusing on some cases, also on graphic research of shapes like the one about the Desierto de Los Monegros near Barcelona, and others on the composition like the Amsterdam Dam one.

Are there any new themes or motifs you want to incorporate into your work, but haven’t had the chance yet?

I don’t know. I’ll continue working and keeping an eye on shapes and composition. I’d love to incorporate also a traditional printing process or work some more on animations. But I guess that my work will continue changing as I unconsciously discover new things.

Last but not least, do you have any recent or upcoming projects that you’re particularly excited about?

Yes, last month in Italy an adaptation of the Divine Comedy for children that I illustrated for la Nuova Frontiera came out to bookstores. You can have a look at it here. But most of all I’m exited about “Journey to the center of the earth”, an adaptation I’m working on since 2014 and in the early months of the next year should be finished!

Thanks Matteo!

Scroll down to see all the amazing artwork Matteo has done for Timberland’s “Let’s Get Lost”. You can also see more from his website, Behance, Twitter, Tumblr, Vimeo, Instagram.

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