Interview With Matthew Hilshorst

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
My name is Matt Hilshorst, I was born in Ely Minnesota and I live and work in Chicago.  I make work that I describe as a mix between sculpture and painting.  Usually paint is in some way incorporated or I use other materials as if they were paint. 

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
The moment right before I fall asleep seems to be the moment when I become inspired.  It’s probably because it’s the only time in my life when it is quiet, the lights are off, and I have nothing to do but think. When it is quiet I can put things together in my head as far as what has inspired me subconsciously.  It doesn’t always work out so well for a good nights sleep though. I will toss and turn for hours devising how to bring an image in my head into reality.   

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?  
My most important tools right now seem to be latch hooks big and small as well as my cake decorating supplies I paint with.  The thing I can’t live without is a ton of light.   

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
 I have a tendency to over work things.  I try to solve all the mysteries of the work which can leave a piece DOA.  I sometimes can’t help it though I try to solve problems and perfect things. Another problem is that I sometimes can’t completely envision what a work will look like until I’ve put in the months it takes to complete it.  That can kill a work for a period of time.  When I have worked on something for 9 months to a year all I want to do when I’m done is not see it for another 9 months.  It tends to become special again with some distance.  I help solve that now by usually having 3 to 4 projects going at all times.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?
I would have to say materials as well as a certain look or feel my work has.  Plastic(acrylic paint, acrylic hair, plastic coated electrical wire, vinyl tablecloths, and plexiglass),  patterns(circles, grids, and gingham), and ways of working(gendered materials, as well as gendered tools) are very important aspects of my work.  Time, energy, and maybe a lurking pessimism could be seen as reoccurring themes.  

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)? 
This might sound stupid but it’s the truth, Madonna has always inspired me and been a role model.  As far as “artist” artist’s I’ll probably get groans for this too but I love Jeff Koons.  His sculptures have always been a not so secret pleasure.   Other artists I love are Tony Matelli, Ashley Bickerton, Robert Heinecken, Roy Lichtenstein, Maurizio Catelan, David Altmejd, Haim Steinbach, Charles Ray, Josh Faught, Gina Beavers, and Tony Tasset to name just a few.  

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given? 
“You might never become famous but you will always make things.” That was not so much advice but something that stuck that Michelle Grabner once said to me.  I’ve loved it and hated it but it makes what I do seem like less of a choice and more like destiny.