Gradwatch: Matthew Callaby, Design for Publishing, Norwich University of the Arts

“I pretty much scare myself into thinking if i don’t work harder, i’ll never get to where i want to be”

Describe your work/style in five words:
Smooth, soft, squishy, saucy, fun.

What drives your creativity/work?
It’s the whole process: sketching, mixing paints, setting up screenprints, I love it. The fact that I’m very harsh on myself helps. Once a project’s finished I’m always thinking about the next one and how I can improve. I pretty much scare myself into thinking if I don’t work harder, I’ll never get to where I want to be. Or beer, probably just beer.

What idea or project of yours encapsulates your approach best, (and why)?
Blimey, it would have to be designing the identity for Sony Music’s after party at the Brit Awards. Having some fun with what would usually be a serious and possibly quite corporate design. Instead of doing what I thought was expected, I just wanted to take a punt and see what would happen by using my own illustrative style.

What is the strangest thing you’ve done on a project?
Not so much something I’ve done, but when I was painting a mural in a bar in Canada, I heard screaming and shouting so I went to the window to see what all the commotion was and there were two half-naked men chasing a bear through the streets of Whistler with golf clubs, that was pretty strange.

If you could steal a talent from three people you admire, what would you choose, from whom, (and why?)
Herb Lubalin: The ability to make typography look so sexy. Parra: How he’s able to make minimal illustrations and colour schemes make such a big impact. Thinking about it, pretty much everything about him. SupaKitch: Use of colour, shapes, attention to detail, his free-hand type is ridiculous, gets me every time. If you haven’t seen the videos I would highly recommend them.

Who would you give your right arm to work with (and why)?
Vault49, a studio in New York which I’ve admired for a long time now, I feel it would be the perfect opportunity. Their portfolio covers murals, screen-printing, 3D, motion graphics, design, illustration pretty much everything I want to do. There’s a perfect balance between traditional and digital mediums which is what I love the most. Or Eugene Riecansky if he knocks a few per cent off.

What would be your dream commission/project?
Travelling abroad to do another large-scale mural would be amazing. If I can keep that ball rolling I’d be over the moon.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Travelling, painting, exhibiting, a clothing line, designing furniture, a nice studio with white walls and wooden floor – that’s the dream.

How will illustration have changed in ten years’ time?
There will be a lot more people pursuing careers in these fields as technology is constantly getting faster, cheaper and more accessible. Along with the digital progression and the advancements that come with it, I feel there will also be a great knock-on effect for traditional media. Hopefully unpaid internships won’t be around either.

More at

What's the story?

The Storytelling issue, Oct/Nov 2017, is out now.
We invited writers to respond to our cover image
this month: read their stories inside.
PLUS: Tom Gauld, Oliver Jeffers, Giphy & S-Town

Buy the issue

The Annual 2018

The Creative Review Annual is one of the most
respected and trusted awards for the creative
industry. We celebrate the best creative work from
the past year, those who create it and commission it.

Enter now


South East London


Burnley, Lancashire (GB)