Rodney Matthews

Rodney Matthews © The Schoolhouse Studio

Background

Matthews, born prematurely in 1945, in Paulton, Somerset, UK, spent the first few hours of his life fighting for survival.  With no available intensive care, only the prayers of a loving mother, the hospital staff swaddled all two pounds of him into a shoebox and placed him in a warm airing cupboard hoping for the best!   

As a child he enjoyed his school art lessons, but favoured his own outdoor investigations, studying the local flora and fauna, picking flowers and bringing home squirrels, magpies, snakes, frogs and toads! 

Young Rodney Matthews

He worked briefly with his father, an engineer, upon leaving school, but soon found himself to be too accident prone for the position. His father encouraged him to apply for a commercial design course at the West of England College of Art, Bristol, UK.  He was accepted upon presentation of a small portfolio of bird drawings in pencil. There he was taught by Anthony Rossiter, a painter of English, in particular North Somerset, landscapes.

Rodney Matthews at Ford's Advertising Agency

Upon leaving college, Matthews worked for an advertising agency, gaining skills that would prove valuable for when he became freelance in 1970.

Illustrator

Matthews exploded into the worldwide art scene in the early seventies when his images were picked up and published by the legendary Big O Posters company based in London, UK.  

Rodney Matthews - Freelance Artist

His posters sold in millions, earning him an international reputation.  Since then, he has produced over six hundred colour

illustrations, most of which have been purposefully commissioned or licensed for use in various forms, from greetings cards, calendars and even snowboards to the pages of a fantasy novel by a much-loved author or a record cover by a rock artist. 

Indeed his illustrations of Michael Moorcock's albino warrior Elric have ensured that his name has become synonymous with the saga, such that he is still being asked to illustrate the most recent of editions.  He has also securely established himself within the music industry having designed over 140 images that have been used as album covers by artists such as Asia, Magnum, Nazareth, Praying Mantis and Rick Wakeman.

Conceptual Designer

Matthews has always had a passion for animation.  In the 1990s he realised his dream of seeing his creations come to life, when alongside the late Gerry Anderson of Thunderbirds fame, he completed Lavender Castle.  The 26 episode major children's series, produced at Cosgrove Hall, incorporated stop-motion model animation and CGI.  It was aired by ITV and was met with great critical claim.

Rodney Matthews with Lavender Castle models

In 2005 he was asked by the creators of the movie The Magic Roundabout, to contribute

concept designs that would fire the imaginations of their animators and story-boarders.  Matthews has even broken into the field of computer game animation, supplying concept designs for computer games by Sony Psygnosis and Midway.  He famously designed the original Traveller's Tales logo back in 1994 and more recently was asked by its original founder Jon Burton to create a new, but similar logo for GameHut, a behind the scenes website looking at video game development.

Musician

Matthews is an accomplished drummer, having played in his own bands since a teenager.  He has played support for many of the legends of the music world, including, Cream, Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominoes, Deep Purple and Gary Moore's Skid Row. Ultimately though, he made the decision to make art his main focus.

Rodney Matthews recording drums

Nowadays however ,he is managing to combine his two passions.  He is currently working on his own album Trinity, alongside his friend Jeff Scheetz on guitar, where each track is inspired by one of his own images. The pair are joined by a host of renowned musicians including Tony Clarkin (Magnum), Pete Coleman, John Payne (Asia), Oliver Wakeman (Yes) and Rick Wakeman (Yes).

His unwavering desire to connect his two talents will likely become more obvious over the coming years as he intertwines the art of his intellectual properties, whether in books, animations or gaming, with his lyric-writing, arrangements and percussive skill.

 

 

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