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Alta States

Stan Matwychuk - balancing art and life



" The artist's office is in his head. And the artist is always in the office..."



He does it all. Paints. Draws. Designs. Manages. Performs. Consults. Volunteers. Yeah. He gives public talks - informative and heartfelt and totally positive. Yeah. Works with kids - hands' on and experiential and entirely dedicated to the moment. More yeahs.  Even his collaborative efforts with other artists are notorious for their high fun factor.

His range of media is also wildly imaginative. From canvas to school bus. From the side of a building to a culvert or even the deck of a skateboard. Nothing is too big or too small. He's dancing at the convergence of pop and underground. Playing out on the edge.

Get what I'm saying? Stan Matwychuk walks his talk. And he does it all for the sheer, liberating rush of creating new stuff. And yet - let me catch my breath here - the 28-year old Squamish local still holds down straight jobs slinging drinks and landscaping to make ends meet. Sound familiar?

But it's not like he's whining about it. For in Stan's world, being an artist is all about commitment. And patience. "I'm slowly getting there," he says. And then shrugs. "You know - it's a real challenge to connect your art to the business of every day life. "

Being an artist sounds like fun. You know, hanging out at the studio with your toque-clad buddies. Listening to Chet Baker and Arcade Fire. Discussing the latest gossip on Banksy and Mr. Brainwash. Coming up with new concepts to explore. Wearing paint-splotched clothes. Smelling like turpentine and B.C. cigarettes. Who wouldn't choose that lifestyle?

But reality is far different. You have to produce. Every day. Pay the bills. Promote your work. Sell it even. The total of which, says Stan, will defeat all but those who are committed 100 per cent to what they're doing.

"It's a cliché, you know, but you really have to believe in yourself," he explains. And that doesn't mean being arrogant or conceited or haughty. But it does mean working hard. "You don't stop being an artist the moment you put your brush down," he says. "It's a full-time thing. A life-decision. You have to be intrepid, ready to break trail. Otherwise you'll never get there."

For Matwychuk, his moment of truth came at a very strange juncture. "I was travelling in Cuba," he recounts. "And somehow I got lost in the back streets of Havana. I mean, picture it: I don't speak Spanish and I don't know where I am. I'm tense and nervous. In fact, I'm getting more and more uncomfortable. I really wanna get out of there."

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