Ottawa, Canada – Art, Photos- Artist/Photographer – Emil Mateja
Emil Mateja is a self-taught artist born in 1987, in Ottawa, Canada, where he continues to reside and work on his art and photography. He has been illustrating and painting since his mid-20s and practicing photography since long before then.
Emil works in various mediums including ink on paper, acrylic on canvas and wood, as well as utilizing digital technology. Inspired by the natural world and the ideals of classic beauty, his work often mirrors these attributes—works consisting of detailed illustrations blending nature and imagination, paintings that depict an abstract and emotional view of the world around us, and photography that captures the beauty found in nature and in the people he photographs.
Emil’s photography typically deal with natural landscapes. He brings forth nature that is forgotten behind the city landscapes of everyday modernity.
Contrastingly, he also shoots people in both rural and with more modern and urban aesthetics.
There is a quality to the photographs that appeals to a fashion editorial or sensibilities of fashion advertising and modelling. He intuitively captures the expression and emotion of the subject and transmits it to the public.
Emil’s art has developed over the years it is amazing to see a great line of progression between works. The detail continues to astonish.
Emil enjoys illustrating through different themes and topics. He gathers most of his inspiration from the patterns of nature, cycles of life and death, occasionally mixing the comical and the absurd to humorous effect in certain illustrations.
In some instances, he reflects a more pagan theme, arising a more spiritual essence, through the mortality of his depictions. Whatever his endeavor, he leaves an opening mind and eye to interpret and contemplate life and it’s circumstance.
I gave Mr.Mateja a quick Q&A to have a better handle on him and his art.
What are your influences?
E.M.: My biggest influences (in terms of art) are the illustrators of current band and album art, such as Richey Becket, John Baizley, Aaron Horkey, etc. Love their detailed black work, and their imaginative creative process. Photography wise, I am inspired by really ANY good shots out there. Mario Testino’s older work is just as important to me, as some random polaroid taken in London in 1983, by some unknown. They all have a story, and all capture something in time.
Who are your photographic inspirations?
E.M.: Vintage black and white, for sure. I love old fashion photography from 1960s Paris, etc. I like seeing photography BEFORE it was photoshopped to hell; when photos had to be composed, lighting had to be almost perfect, subjects, backgrounds, accessories – all of that was there, in person, and had to be snapped just right. I really dislike all this new “digital” manipulation stuff. Sure, technology helps me out a lot with touching up, no doubt – but I like trying to keep it minimal. I love classic images of beauty, and candid, natural moments. My inspiration, you could say, comes from a sudden moment, or a sudden thought. I will see a girl leaning against a wall having a smoke, and think “that would be a great look and pose for a shoot”, because it’s relatable, a situation the viewer can imagine themselves in. “I could be that guy/girl”, they think.
Who are your illustrative inspirations?
E.M.: Nature and folklore, without a doubt, along with music. I have a fascination with pagan culture and beliefs, respect for nature, and the understanding of the circle of life, death, decay, new life, etc. A lot of my art features elements of both life and death, trying to show the bond between the two. You cannot have one without the other. In fact, one relies upon the other. My days spent walking through the woods as a child, and actually looking forward to walks in the woods with my parents, those were the moments that lay down the foundation for my love of the outdoors. (Collecting animal skulls helps me too!)
What is more important to you content or technique?
E.M.: Although both are extremely important to me, content is the higher valued one. I can apply a few various techniques to my illustrations (line work, dot work, colour etc), as with photos (film/digital/etc), that will all be well received by viewers, however WHAT I am creating is more important than HOW. The art has to make someone stop, and turn back a page and go, “wow, now that I like”. I want someone to think it’s clever, unique, says something, etc. I want people to at least stop and feel something, rather than glossing over what I make.
Please visit Emil Mateja for more art, photographs and content. Contact him for your Photographic and Artistic needs: