Meet the Island Street Artist

Posted by thewinkingprawn on September 23, 2016



Ever wondered who the brains behind the street art style artwork at Island Street Bar and Grill is?  Mat McIvor is the Cornish based artist, illustrator and mural painter bringing the walls to life…


Why did you move to Cornwall?


I’m from Birmingham, and I was living in Dublin when my son was born.  I had family in Cornwall, and when he was six months we had a choice between bringing him up in inner city Dublin or by the sea in Cornwall – it was a no brainer really.


How did you start working as an artist?


I did fine art at university and I wanted to get back into it when we moved to Cornwall, having worked in bars while we were in Dublin.  Most of the things people were painting here 15 years ago were seaside scenes and I wanted to bring my city background and urban influences to it all, so I started painting a little differently to everyone else. 




The graphic style of my work is influenced by comics and graphic novels from when I was growing up, blurring the lines between fine art and illustration.  Raymond Pettibon was an artist I admired, he was a fine artist who did a lot of album covers for punk bands in the 70s.  That lead me onto an interest in early graffiti and for my final degree show I did temporary graffiti, projecting huge images onto buildings.


What did you want to be growing up?


Growing up I wanted to be an architect!  Then I found out you had to study for seven years so I thought ‘sod that’.  So I did my A levels and figured I could do art as a career, I did my foundation year at art college and didn’t get into uni the first time around so I spent another year building my portfolio.  Then I did a three-year degree, so if you think about it I studied for seven years anyway!


What kind of projects do you work on?


It’s really varied.  I have a clothes shop that I run with my girlfriend and we screen print our own t-shirts.  Then I do a lot of murals, poster designs, hand rendered lettering and signs for businesses, commissioned paintings.  Most recently I designed all the t-shirts for The Man Engine – the largest mechanical puppet that toured Devon and Cornwall this summer celebrating the mining heritage.  Then I have fallen into doing lots of sign writing. 




How do you describe your style?


I don’t know!   It just comes from things that interest me.  I love colour and I am blind in my right eye so I don’t have depth of vision.  As a result, a lot of my original paintings were line drawings using flat colour in different bands of thickness to give a sense of dimension.  So I guess that’s how things have developed a graphic style.


What’s the best thing about living and working in Cornwall?


The inspiration from the landscape, the colour and the light.  I also have a huge sense of freedom here, to do my own thing, make my own work and find my own niche.


What’s your top tip for visitors to Cornwall?


Just enjoy your surroundings in Cornwall because it’s just beautiful.  I am always finding new places to go to – there are all these little places you find – just keep exploring, there’s so much to do!