Illustrator Matt Weems is bringing Victorian back. Dubbing his style “19th Century Ink,” he draws on the black and white woodcut and idyllic styles of the late 1800s to early 1900s, adding his own unique, sometimes subversive, point of view.
“There’s something rich that happens when you can tie into past work that has meaning to the public in terms of style, but used for a client’s modern purposes with original art,” he says. “There’s an inherent emotional impact.”
Matt gets inspiration from illustrators like Maurice Sendak and William Wallace Denslow, who did the original Wizard of Oz illustrations. More recently, Edward Gorey paved the way to revisit stark and startling illustrations in the classic style.
“Sometimes an assignment – like the Antiquarian Book Fair poster – will have me actually working off a piece of existing art, adding extensions or embellishments to give it new life. Other times, I get to create from scratch,” he explains.
“You don’t see that old pen and ink style too often anymore,” says Matt, “but I love it. It’s really challenging to strip communication down to the essentials of lines in black and white, but when you get it right, it stands out.”
Matt is also known for his technical and photo-real illustrations. You can see more of his commercial and editorial work right here.