We had the good fortune of connecting with Matthew Keranen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Matthew, why did you pursue a creative career?
Fulfillment. It is what I measure everything I set about doing be it eating, cooking, exercising, working, leisure… whatever it may be. Sure, some things are far less fulfilling than others, but the pursuit of that fulfillment I get when I do something that *I* (my nemesis and worst critic, me) actually like or enjoy? Nothing tops that kind of satisfaction. Being so fortunate to turn a creative outlet into something functional and helpful to others has been one of my most fulfilling and stubborn achievements. I hope to keep achieving.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What I strive for in everything I do is to have at least one more level than face value in my work. The work I appreciate from others always has something else going on beneath the surface. I know that may ring as a big “duh” to everyone, but I don’t see it as often as I’d like with everything being so template-heavy these days. My mentality regarding design is that I look to push things in the direction that science fiction keeps saying we are going. You are not going to see a lot of serifs (unless otherwise stated) in a lot of my first passes at logos or typography setups. I like to stay versatile, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that is the first place my mind goes. “What does this look like twenty years from now?” Lately, I have gotten the most satisfaction out of my photography. I am attacking photography like I’m swatting a pinata: doing something I think is cool, googling whether I’m making a bunch of amateur mistakes, then side-eyeing appropriately. Minimalist retouching is something I am also passionate about. I like people to look like people. I’ll smear every “flaw” out when I’m making fairies or something (which, honestly, I wish I had more reasons to make). I am also enjoying painting out artifacts and solving problems the clone tool just can’t handle (problem solving!). In the end, I just want to make things look cool(er). I shoot for that one tiny moment that differentiates looking at something and deciphering information and GLADLY deciphering information. Everything else is cherries.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Given the times we are in, this is tough. To the places I am about to list: I hope you are hanging in there.
Favorite Burger: Grill ’em All – Alhambra – Heavy metal burger place that serves the best burger I have had in my natural life. Everything about the place is cool and if their burgers weren’t delicious enough, their combinations, specials, and creativity are absolutely bonkers in the best way. This place is “If burgers were metal.”
Honorable mention: Stout Burgers and Beers – Santa Monica/Hollywood/Studio City – Best burgers I’ve had ever until Grill ’em All. Everything on the menu is excellent.
Favorite Movie Theater: Nuart Theatre – West LA – Single screen theater next door to one of the last bastions of movie rental stores. Great midnight showings. My dream business ownership scenario. Honorable mention: Landmark Theater – Westwood – They show more independent stuff, special screenings, and one step more independent from the chains (not that the chains are bad, just less special).
Possibly Favorite Thing Ever: LA-AX – North Hollywood – Indoor ax-throwing range. INDOOR AX-THROWING RANGE.
Favorite Past Time: ERYC Dodgeball – Venice, Westwood, North Hollywood, Highland Park – The Eagle Rock Yacht Club (ERYC) Recreational Dodgeball League is the most accessible league I’ve experienced in Los Angeles. I like to refer to it as the gateway drug for the more competitive leagues. It is also the number one place I would recommend anyone to seek out to meet some like minds, make new friends, and plant some networking seeds.
There are many places that are neat and exclusive to this town and are exciting. These places listed are just the most subjective. I hope they are off the beaten path enough.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Bill Ballerini of Ballerini Cooley Studios in Playa del Rey. I can firmly say that, without him, I would not be where I am today. There is no story of me in Los Angeles making it further than a few months without his help and friendship. He is an ace networker, an out-of-the-box thinker, and a genuinely excellent dude. I hope that I can be half as valuable to him as he has been to me someday.
Instagram: Design/Illustration: @heavy_ordnance_studios — Photography: @high_prism