Portrait of an artist: Matt Kriske

Meredith Gallagher

Matthew Kriske has been making art all his life. Whether it be painting, drawing, creating personalized shoes, or publishing his work, the BSM senior can’t imagine his life without art. “It’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember,” he said.

Though Kriske has been painting and drawing for as long as he can remember, he didn’t actively pursue art until he was eight years old when he began training under Atelier painters who had studied with Richard Lack. “I first started getting rather serious about the whole affair around eight or nine,” he said.

When he was ten years old, Kriske began selling his paintings and drawings, and by 11 he had his first piece showcased in an exhibit. “It was a surreal experience,” he said. “It was cool seeing my work properly hung and framed with more legitimate artists than I.”

As well as selling his paintings and drawings, Kriske has also worked quite extensively in the comic industry. “I first got involved in the comics world a few years back from some friends of mine who are professional illustrators and cartoonists in the Twin Cities,” he said. “I started by making mini-comics, and then moved on to doing freelance comics for the City Pages and other clients, doing anthology projects and generally wherever I could find work.”

In order to make money, Kriske also creates one-of-a-kind shoes for people. “They’re usually hand-painted Van’s or some other sort of slip-on shoes,” he said. “Generally, most people commission portraits on each foot, but I’ve done animals, graffiti art, landscapes, pretty much anything if the money’s good.”

Kriske has experimented with many forms of art–ceramics, writing, drawing, and comic strips–but he focuses mainly on his painting and constantly experiments with his style. “I do sort of classical figurative realist type painting stuff, but some of it is a bit sort of twisted,” he said, naming among his influences Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dahli, and Takashi Murakami. “Then I also do graffiti-influenced weird drawings and the like–sort of make-your-eyes-water type thing.”

According to Kriske, painting is an escape for him from his every-day life. “It provides a haven where I can exercise a degree of control, whereas in life, you’ve got no say. You have to take the good with the bad,” he said.

While still painting on the side, Kriske has been fine-tuning his drawing skills this past semester at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he’s been taking a five-hour class there once a week. “It’s been nice getting out of school early every single day, but it’s also a lot of work,” he said of his classes.

Now that the semester is over, Kriske is focusing on his book that he hopes to have out sometime later this spring. “It is called Oddment and is a collection of my art over the last few years,” he said. “The book is sort of a hodge podge of my interests, my idols, my friends, or things and people that I find strange, beautiful or otherwise noteworthy,” he said.

He has been working on the book for few years now, and he is in the final stages. “I still have some editing work to go over, plus some one or two last-minute additions to finish up, but if all goes well, hopefully we will see it by March or April,” he said. “It’s been a long time in the making, and I’m pretty excited by the results.” Currently, there are plans to distribute Oddment on the internet and throughout the United States, United Kingdom, France, and possibly Germany.

For now, Kriske isn’t sure what the future holds in store for him, but he knows he will always have his art. “Wherever I end up, I’m sure it’ll work out in the end,” he said, “…unless it doesn’t.”