Like many illustrators, Matt Weems grew up idolizing other artists. Unlike others, his hero was a woodblock engraver from the mid-1800s. “Howard Pyle was an engraver and then became an artist in his own right,” explains Matt. “He knew how to make the most of his medium.”

Portrait of Afghan Warlord Gulboddin Hekmatyar as a buzzard, by Illustrator Matt Weems

That stark, high-impact style still informs Matt’s work to this day. “I love black and white,” he says. “It’s extremely unforgiving – you only have two things you can show. You have to be confident and you can’t fudge it. Each stroke has to be right because it can’t be concealed. I like that.”

Portrait of a man interpreted as a four-armed deity, by Illustrator Matt Weems

Matt started out as an apprentice illustrator, creating detailed product and floor plan renderings for Levi Straus. But he quickly evolved his business into more creative territory. “There’s a skill to creating something technical and photoreal,” he says. “But when you let personal interpretation drift in, things get more interesting.”

A computer sits on the ground in front of a stone wall and a forest fire, by Illustrator Matt Weems

He uses color to add a creative twist as well. “That old-timey black and white look isn’t what people always want to see,” he admits. “But there can be an evolution, bringing in color. I like to mix those old ink techniques with a fresh POV.”

A portrait of Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers in woodcut style, by Illustrator Matt Weems

Experimenting with pencil and ink from his studio in Alameda, California, Matt has partnered with clients from Looking Glass Virtual Reality to Restoration Hardware and San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers. If he’s not at his desk, check out back where he’s likely building an oil drum grill or a giant bunk bed.

Black and white illustration of the painted lady Victorian homes in San Francisco, by Illustrator Matt Weems

We’re thrilled to welcome Matt to the Freda Scott roster. You can see more of his high impact illustration here.

Black and white rendering of a leather jacket, by Illustrator Matt Weems