We had the good fortune of connecting with Matt Doolin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Matt, what do you attribute your success to?
It’s really hard to say that their is just one factor that is the most important because I really do believe there are quite a few that make it all come together. That being said, I do think that being original and staying true to yourself as an authentic person and not following trends or copying others is key. Be the person you’re meant to be not what others think you should be. Try not to second guess what you’re doing too much if you see it working, but stay smart and keep questioning things, re-inventing, and just make sure you follow your intuition. If you are a service oriented business or product designer and artist, or a combination of the two like myself I think this applies to any kind of business or career. I hear so many people say they aren’t happy doing what they’re doing because they followed a path that wasn’t really theirs. It’s so typical to hear stories of people who studied or worked towards a goal of being successful, but found out when they got there that it was somebody else’s idea of success, or that when they reached “success” financially, they were still not happy with where they were. This idea of being original very much applies to myself as an artist and designer working in ceramics through tiles, murals, mosaics and sculpture and I feel that making work that is as original as possible has kept my work relevant, at least to myself. It keeps me interested and challenges me to keep learning and growing, instead of following a formula. And I find that through time if I keep things original in my own way and stay in my natural path that what I do has more longevity as a brand. Obviously you have to stay focused and make sure you really do know where your true talents lie. Mistakes will always be made and sometimes those will be your best teacher. And you will have many teachers, and many critiques, but listen to your heart for the final answer. It may take time and experimentation but you will feel what’s right if you keep the focus. Try not to take the wrong path, but even if you do, you can change directions and get back on track. Just make sure you don’t get on the freeway of life and get off at the final exit realizing you missed yours because you followed somebody else’s directions.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Like all kids my art started as fun and play, and as a challenge to make things and ideas visible through coloring and drawing. I grew up before all our electronic devices were available like they are today and we used to do it as entertainment and as a game or challenge. Both my parents were artists so it was all around and came naturally and I was good at it from an early age. Drawing, painting, building and making things was just a part of life. Early on, clay was thrown into the mix and became part of the tool box. It meant you could combine drawing, painting and sculpture all into to one process. Things went from 2D to 3D. I’m not really sure what sets my art apart from other artists as I believe all that really sets artists apart is their own particular style or the medium they choose to use. We’re all just enjoying and experimenting with the creative process and I think you can be an artist in any endeavor if you push the boundaries and take it to the most creative level. Obviously the final goal and purpose of a piece of art does define you somewhat. For instance my father was very phyllisophical about what he was doing, telling stories as a fine artist and displaying in galleries and museums, but my mother was more intuitive and doing things mostly for functional purposes. and people homes. Either way I saw the excitement and joy people got from both of them even though they were doing it in different ways. It does seem that Clay Artists are less prominent than Painters or Photographers these days so that is something different from the norm. The ceramic medium enables the possibility to put your art anywhere, from indoors to outdoors including in pools, fountains, floors and fireplaces, as well as murals on walls and the sides of buildings, so that opens many doors. Also clay has sculptural and textural elements that make it more of a tactile experience and it offers variation in moods with the elements of light and shadow. I like to make art that is being seen by as many people as possible in spaces that are publicly available to all, but it is also nice to do work in homes and more intimate spaces that effect people daily on a personal level. As a more personal endeavor for myself I think my sculptural work is more playful and inventive, speaking to ideas and feelings I have in my life and about the world around me. Meanwhile my tiles and murals are more professional and career oriented based on the obvious fact that they are in the category of functional art and made for the purpose of creating joy and beauty for other peoples spaces. I consider everything I do to be an art but in a practical sense most people would consider the tile art to be a craft. The actual business, which is a family business, came out of the desire to paint on tile which offered a commercial outlet and a way to create art as well as create a living. That goal entailed a lot of hard work and learning along the way and resulted in the growth of a business as well as the growth of artistic ability. I think the main lesson was perseverance, and now through all the years of doing this there is a body of work that is spread across the globe with projects in many countries and multiple continents. Of course most of the work is local, and is generally in California and the US, but it has spread far and wide and has resulted in a reputation and a brand that is respected and loved by all who personally own it or have enjoyed it through the various private and public projects that have been done over the last 4 decades. I often have people and previous clients comment on projects they’ve experienced from years ago and that they still love and enjoy. And the bonus is that through all these projects there is now a wealth of personal relationships and experiences that exists as testament and a gift to work well done. That’s the gold at the end of the rainbow.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d say if you’re coming to LA you’d have to visit Down Town to check out the center of one of the biggest cities in the world. From the old parts to the new parts there is a wealth of things to see and do. Maybe starting at Alvera Street for Huevos Rancheros and a Margarita in the morning and then going across the street to Union Station to check out the original “port of arrival” for so many people in the early days of the city and visit this great Historical Sight. And while you’re there you can check out some great Public Art including my dads murals at the Metro Headquarters. From there you have Chinatown and Little Tokyo to choose from and the new Arts District to see, plus you’ve got Museums and Theatres and so much more to entertain you. And maybe a visit to one of the rooftop bars, plus all along the way Food is everywhere in the downtown area and you won’t go hungry. The city is great, but it can be overwhelming, so it’s time to come over to my side of the county for some relaxation and to spend some time in nature while we take a tour of the Santa Monica Mountains. Meet me at my shop Topanga Art Tile in the center of Topanga Canyon and you can check out what I’m doing, plus there are some other really cool shops right nearby that all offer original and one of a kind products and services. Of course we’ll go across the street to the local Topanga Library to check out my mural “Topanga View with Locals” and then get a quick bite to eat at one of the local Cafes or Restaurants in town. After that we’ll take a short hike (or long one if you’re feeling energetic) at the State Park or one of the other beautiful trails within the Canyon. Then we’ll head for a scenic drive on the beautiful and iconic MulHolland Hwy stopping at the historic and delicious Old Place for lunch before continuing on out to the coast at Leo Cabrillo. There we can take a stroll on the beach and go for a swim (or a surf) in the Pacific if you like. Then it’s time to take in the incredible views while heading down the coast to Malibu Beach. Along the way we’ll take a quick stop at another one of my murals “Tapestry Of Dreams” that was commissioned for the Malibu Fire Station #71 right on the PCH. Then a walk on out on to the Malibu Pier is essential to view the classic Surfrider Beach and see where the surfing fad all began. Of course you can see a few Celebrity Mansions along the way too while heading back to Topanga for a beautiful stay at one of the local B&B’s. From here you’ll probably want to head back towards town to see the Santa Monica Pier and surrounding area, as well as the more gritty and very entertaining Venice Beach Boardwalk and take a day to explore it all. Plenty of great Restaurants and Bars to enjoy and hopefully some Music. A great place to eat is the Baja Cantina Just down from the Inn at Venice Beach which features yet another one of my murals, “Mermaid at Venice Beach”. Now it’s time for Hollywood which isn’t far from here, if you must go and see it. That’s another half day or more of exploration, especially if you go to the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Griffith Observatory for a city wide view and a look at the Hollywood Hills. It’s another incredibly beautiful view of LA and the Observatory is amazing, as well as the location for some very famous film scenes including “Rebel Without A Cause” featuring James Dean. There are many other great things to do in this area too that you can enjoy if you like. At this point I think you need some natural relief, so I suggest a 2 day visit to Joshua Tree National Park for some desert time and incredible scenery and fun. This will bring you back down to earth and you’ll be blown away by the beauty and space that the desert has to offer. Joshua Tree is world class in a rustic way with plenty of great places to stay and restaurants to eat at, and a journey well worth making. By now you’re getting ready to wrap your tour up and you might be ready to party a little so maybe a visit the Morongo Casino on the way back to LA, where hopefully you’ll win all the money back that you just spent touring this beautiful part of the world. Just be careful not to loose more, or maybe, just drive right past and figure you’re good. Of course there is so much more to see and do in Los Angeles and the surrounding area, but I think that might be on your next trip because you’ve probably done enough driving already. I think it’s time to go back to the beach and just chill for a day before you go home.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It’s all about Family! From my Parents to my Siblings and from my Wife to my Children, I have had so much love and support from them all, and that has made my journey possible. So much support and encouragement in so many ways has been key to giving me the freedom to find my path. Of course the Community I live in and the Schools and Teachers I have had also influenced me greatly and taught me so many things that made it possible to learn and grow towards my potential. And being in Nature and Traveling a lot has also been a major influence on who I am. This is where I learned to communicate with the natural energies and spirits and experience other cultures that have so much to offer. There are also some very special close Friends who opened my eyes and ears to perspectives and points of view that were so much like mentors in their way. And and of course I continue to search for more masters to help me keep on learning and get to the next level.

Website: www.TopangaArtTile.com
Instagram: mattjdoolin
Facebook: Topanga Art Tile

Image Credits
Matt Doolin

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