From The Desk Of: Mathew Foster

Aug 04, 2016

We first met Mathew when he relocated to Los Angeles from Portland. We've had the privilege to work on several projects with him, producing printed goods for many downtown institutions, we love his cutting edge design and attention to detail. We sat down with Mathew to learn more about his creative process and inspirations.

What’s on your desk?

Various notepads and pencils, an unused eraser (even dumb ideas are worth saving) and this little Acme thread ruler.

Fill in the blank: "I don't show up at a meeting without _________."

Having had coffee.

What's on your reading list?

I usually have a few books going at once, and read daily. Right now, it's everything I can find from Roberto Bolaño. Next up is John Fante and the Bandini series.

What’s in your bag/always on your person?

My Apple pocket computer-camera, as much as I try to stay off it. Can't leave without it!

I'm a true believer in... / Major skeptic about...

I’m a true believer in repeated failure, as it implies that work is being done. It's cliché by now, but it's really true. Those who are afraid to look stupid or be wrong about things rarely get anywhere: ‘perfect’ being the enemy of ‘really good.’ The seeming contradiction here is that I’m a major skeptic about the idea of pure ‘hustle’ – at some point, you have to recognize that no amount of hustle will make up for a lack of game. Some things in this world, you either have it – or you don’t.

Describe your personal aesthetic in three words:

Big Dumb Type

Describe the creative space at your company:

My space is in Chinatown, in a 2-level retail “mall” that was pretty ahead of the curve when it was built in 1972. It’s quiet for the most part, and looks into a great courtyard and not into the street. When I moved in, I ripped out the tile floors and drop ceilings and made it as plain and simple as possible.

What are your design inspirations?

At some point a few years back, a friend described me as a “blue collar designer” which may be the best compliment I’ve received yet. Learning about Tibor Kalman and consuming his book Perverse Optimist is the thing that set me on the path I’ve been on today. Vernacular design, sign painting, the industrial methods that emerged from the 1920s and beyond are what really keep me excited about this stuff. How to take those cues and use them in relevant ways today.

Branding is __________.

The outward manifestations involved in having a point of view.

What is the best professional lesson you’ve ever learned?

That relationships are your wealth. It's very important to be good at what you do, but it's 100x more important to be great to work with.

What do you love about what your company brings to its clients?

Our strong opinions and radical candor, I think are most important. Sometimes clients have come and asked for one thing, and when we get into talking with them, it turns out they need something entirely different… and we say so. Even it means taking less money because it’s simpler than they thought it would be. Or passing on the job, because it’s just not our strong suit.

Tell us about your latest printed project:

A 2-color risograph print with our buds at Neverpress (did Paper Chase ever have a risograph machine?? They're insane)

What was the inspiration behind this project?

Neil, the lead designer here at Rad Co-op, is also a trained sign painter. We're thinking that "Words to Work By" will be a series of prints that defy the conventional working mantras of our day. “No buzzwords / big talkers / bullshit” being the first.

What brought you to Paper Chase Press?

Word-of-mouth referral brought me in the door, and seeing the quality and learning about the history has kept me coming back. To have a local printer with an easy to use online checkout has saved the day more than once.

How often do you use printed goods to promote your business?

As much as possible! We live and breathe in printed junk. Can't get enough.


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