Tom Mattison uses artistic talents to raise awareness of mental health initiative with Vans

Tom Mattison

Growing up in Southampton, England, Tom Mattison was always interested in art and design. As a child, he started with traditional image-making techniques like printing, drawing and painting. As he grew, he progressed to the design and print industry and has been able to channel his passion for creativity into a commercial avenue. Now, he is a celebrated creative artworker, putting his mark on many successful campaigns around the United Kingdom.

“My personal art and design practice centers around process and prescribed techniques. I find inspiration in the way that doing certain things can introduce mistakes that might lead to unexpected outcomes. This juxtaposes the work I do within the advertising industry where everything is considered and rationalized. I enjoy my personal work as a release from rigid structure,” said Mattison.

Working both as a freelancer and with the company Genix Imaging Ltd, Mattison has collaborated with iconic brands like Selfridges, GAP, and Nike. Last summer, he also worked with the sneaker and apparel brand Vans on their “All In: The Mind” exhibition at House of Vans in London. He was commissioned to design the poster and visual identity for the show.

“All In: The Mind” was a display of various works from across the artistic spectrum that encouraged discussion around mental health into the everyday. Visual art, fashion, music, sculpture and poetry were all showcased to remind attendees that it is okay to not be okay. Showcased under the famous arches at London’s Waterloo Station, all proceeds from the event were donated to the mental health charity Mind.

The graphic Mattison produced was created using original hands-on print techniques and applied across print and digital formats. He also produced a large hanging banner that was displayed in the entrance atrium of the exhibition gallery.

To do this, Mattison first made a large body of monoprints using red and blue inks. He then edited the prints and manipulated them digitally. After the works were on the computer, he created a layout and typographic look, and then various executions of the design, such as printed posters, website banners, social media content and press releases.

Other than the exhibition theme, which was mental health within the art world, there were no design guidelines for the project. As the sole creative artworker, Mattison was given creative freedom on the project, granted total free reign to explore what he thought the look of the show should be. He responded with a feel that was expressive and painterly but restrained and considered in the typography and layout. Alongside promotional materials, he also applied his artistic practice and submitted a large digital-print hanging canvas banner artwork to sit within the exhibition.

“The freedom was amazing because I was able to express my creative voice without constraint. It was also good to work on design aspects using my own imagery, something I don’t often have the opportunity to do in the advertising industry. I was also able to work with other leading figures in the design and art world because the show was a group exhibition,” said Mattison.

Mattison was initially approached by Bryony Stone, the curator of the exhibition to design the identity and promotional materials for the show. She was aware of his creative artwork background as well as his talents. She was looking for someone who was able to handle all requirements alone, and Mattison was the ideal candidate. He was an asset to the project and ensured smooth delivery of all requirements.

Seeking design approval and comments from Stone, the two formed an outstanding partnership. They both reached a solution that they were pleased with for the visual identity of the exhibition.

“The idea for my artworks in the show were: the visual cortex of our brains’ process of blue and red imagery in a unique way. We fuse the two separate images to create one three-dimensional scene. Lines blur and edges collide. This piece explores the transient elements of our mind, looking into how we process and decipher the world around us,” Mattison described.

Without a doubt, Mattison’s contributions were essential to the success of the exhibition. He was the driving force of the event’s visual identity, creating awareness for attendees. He completed the entire project independently, having total creative control over the entire process.

His work was appreciated by more than just those that attended the exhibition. Mattison quickly saw quite a lot of exposure for his work. Publications at the forefront of contemporary art and design, fashion and culture, and more were praising his work, and having press from leading outlets publicized the show further. Outlets such as Refinery29,Timeout, WonderlandMagazine, Is Nice Thatand Dazedall covered the show.

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