Matt Olin is one of those artists whose work is impossible to have not seen. We get a look at some of his other creations as well as the sense of humor that finds its way into many of his projects.
Please tell us about the medium you work in and how you came to work in your style.
I typically work in Birkenstocks. Most people would refer to wearing Birkenstocks year-round in Duluth as a stylistic choice, so I guess you could say I come to work everyday in my style. When at work, I teach Interactive Design at UMD and create both self-initiated and client-based design solutions in my Birkenstocks.
How long have you been working in this medium?
On any given day, I’ll be working in my Birkenstocks for 8-12 hours. I’ve only owned two pairs of Birkenstocks, however, so I haven’t always been designing in them. The first T-shirt I ever designed—and had printed—was in 5th grade. Chances are good that I was wearing Adidas Sambas around this time. This was also when I made my first website: a Third Eye Blind tribute page (which happened to also be the best 3EB tribute page to ever grace Geocities).
What are the challenges and / or rewards from doing what you do?
I used to worry that Stephan Jenkins (of 3EB) would never see my tribute page for his band. I worry about that less because I don’t like their music as much as I used to. Nowadays, with apps like Instagram, I can just tag an artist in hopes they’ll see my work. Blink-182 liked a couple of my Insta’s this summer (and commented on one!), and that pretty much made my life.
On a more serious note—and the difference between having someone notice your work in 1997 vs. 2017—is that technology and the ways we communicate are constantly evolving. Teaching interactive design means I need to constantly evolve what I teach and how I teach to meet the needs of both my students and the industry. Working in the same medium means I also need to stay relevant for my clients’ and my benefit.
I think the greatest reward in all of this is seeing others succeed. Student and client success (and joy) makes me incredibly happy. Knowing I was a part of that success—in whatever capacity it may be—keeps me loving what I do day after day.
Where can people see your work?
People can view a collection of inappropriate times I’ve worn Birkenstocks on Instagram with #FromWhereISandal. Other random collections of my work exist in #ContextualEmojiPortraits and #TheFacesOfFolklore.
My website currently shows dancing Peanuts GIFs and is currently under construction, but I post more timely work on Instagram (@oh_matt). I also have a Behance portfolio that’s only a couple years out-of-date (behance.net/matthewolin).
Around town, my work can be seen in Teatro Zuccone’s “Now Playing” poster case (I have been designing all of Renegade Theater Company’s posters since 2010) and at local grocery stores in the egg isle.
Any upcoming projects, exhibits, or challenges you are facing?
Don Clark—a designer I really admire—once said, “Create the world you want to live in” and that has long been one of my driving mantras. Since the birth of our daughter, I am always thinking about how can I help create and shape the world I want Avery to grow up in.
A couple of years ago I launched a jewelry line called “The LogOut Collection.” That—as well as some other tangible designed objects aimed at disconnecting from things that don’t matter in order to reconnect with those that do—will be launching in the near future.
I spend most of my time thinking about these ideas and how to create meaningful interactions in our everyday lives.
I also keep trying to get the attention of Taylor Swift.
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