Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Matt Chase. Photography for the series is by award-winning Cade Martin, wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.

Matt, please provide us a short bio.

I’ve lived and worked in D.C. for close to a decade, the acknowledgement of which occasionally hits me like a ton of bricks when I reflect on the circumstances that led me here. My formative years were spent in Wichita, KS, where most of my family still resides and where I lived in suburban idyll for 18 years. I graduated with Highest Distinction from the University of Kansas, where I studied Visual Communication, but in the job-hunting mania that followed the close of my senior year, I never managed to collect my diploma from the registrar’s office, so, depending on your point of view, I may or may not have a marginally fabricated LinkedIn profile.

The aforementioned employment mania led me to Boulder, CO, where for a whopping two months I sucked in fresh mountain air while enduring a design internship at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Around the time my attitude toward advertising was nearing peak disillusionment, Alex Bogusky—whose name was on the building itself—abruptly renounced the entire industry and resigned from the agency. This in no small measure was a catalyst for my own exodus, which I had been quietly plotting since the moment on Day 1 when we were instructed to keep blankets and pillows on hand should a deadline arise which required imprisoning us overnight. I spent the rest of the internship using company time to write and mail resumes, cover letters, and portfolio samples, which were completely ignored save for one vaguely interested response: Jake Lefebure, co-founder and CEO of Design Army, requested that I start there immediately, so I bowed out at CP+B, and within two weeks my father and I were trekking cross-country to the nation’s capital, iMac and unfettered optimism in tow.

I remained at Design Army for three years, a tough but rewarding period during which I became increasingly enamored by the prospect of editorial illustration and book covers, smaller projects for which a reasonably-sized design studio just isn’t likely to be commissioned. In 2013, I left to pursue an independent practice and have been working merrily on my own since. Titles don’t appeal to me much but when pressed for words I typically mutter something like “artist & designer.”

What are the things you are most proud of?

Several of my closest friends are acquaintances I made in grade school, and a few from even earlier. The depth and duration of those bonds—forged in the crucible of boredom that defines Kansas adolescence—is deeply meaningful to me and not something I often encounter in people I meet outside the Midwest. I’ve also got a pretty capable gut instinct, which aside from an unfortunate incident involving one too many apple fritters, has yet to lead me truly astray.

Who were your personal role models?

My parents, for all the reasons you’d expect and maybe some you wouldn’t. Professionally, I’ve never had the pleasure of studying under a true mentor but have always stood in admiration of artists creating smart, profoundly arresting imagery. Stuff that just really grabs you, for better or for worse. Into this venerable camp I would include names like Stefan Sagmeister, Alan Fletcher, Shel Silverstein, Maurizio Cattelan and Christoph Niemann.

Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

Everything I’ve learned about patience, hard work and the value of doing more with less came from my parents. The closest I’ve come to meeting any of the other folks was the ninth or tenth row of an auditorium in Kansas City, where Sagmeister gave a lecture I attended while in college. He probably offered loads of professional advice that evening, but sadly, I wouldn’t know; I showed up embarrassingly late and, coming off a stint of all-nighters and sitting for perhaps the first time in 48 hours, fell asleep almost immediately. My professor at the time was—and likely still is—completely horrified.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Everything is a learning experience, even if you don’t realize what you’ve learned until much, much later. And please be kind, especially when it’s hard to.

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

I’m a techno-dinosaur and still use iTunes, which at any given moment might be feeding me The White Stripes, Dave Brubeck, The Beatles, Broken Social Scene, or any other number of prototypical indie rock albums that crept like heroin into my audio stream circa 2003.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

Chaia when I want the illusion of health, Federalist Pig when I don’t. Lapop, Potter’s House, and Ellé are my official caffeine refueling stations. I don’t drink much anymore, but was once a bona fide regular at the now-deceased Asylum on 18th.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I think we covered the bases pretty well.

About The Author

The only child of a university art professor and freethinker mother, Cade Martin grew up surrounded by shapes and images. His love of art grew out of summer vacations filled with trips to galleries, museums and art studios. At home he often found himself around the dinner table with an eclectic cast of characters – sculptors, writers and painters. They paraded through his childhood, shaping his art foundation and forming his appreciation for the candid beauty found in people from all walks of life. Cade’s been chasing characters ever since. He seeks out their stories-told through the architecture of their faces or the costumes they wear-whether he’s on a commercial production or setting up an Avedon-like photo booth at Comic Con. They are the heroes in his pictures. His thirst for capturing adventures took its hold while shooting stills on movie sets and then as a photographer for National Geographic covering the railways of India. And it is that sense of adventure that Cade brings to his productions elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary with a cinematic touch. It’s not just a picture. He’s committed to the experience, building beautiful environments and, sometimes for his portraits, simply building trust. A talented storyteller, Cade splits his time between the East and West Coasts creating images for editorial, advertising, fashion, and lifestyle clients

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.