Introducing: Matthew Daniel Swan

Work / Introducing

Introducing: If illustrator Matthew Daniel Swan gets stuck, he draws a wizard

For this week’s Introducing feature we interviewed the owner of this lovely workspace, illustrator Matthew Daniel Swan. New both to London and to creating illustration on commission, we had a chat with Matthew and picked up a couple of gems along the way. Among them, he told us about the impact his desk has on the work he makes on it, the trouble with lava caves, and drawing wizards when he gets stuck. Read on to find out more about Matthew’s work!


Matthew Daniel Swan: Harbour Master and Glorious Dog

Where do you work?

I work in my flat in Crystal Palace. I have an occasional table and desk easel that I move around, sometimes in my bedroom, sometimes in the living room. Ideally, I would like to get a nice warm studio to take my work away from home.

How does your working day start?

09:00 Tea and jammy toast or peanut banana toast or peanut banana jammy toast.
09:30 Check all of the important websites.
10:00 Easy peeler.

How do you work and how has that changed?

I lived in Edinburgh before moving to London and I had a big studio gallery that I helped run with my pals. I had access to a lot of materials and lots of space, so I made big things but never really finished any of them. I don’t have a studio now and I have chosen to spend my time at a very small table, so all of my current work is quite compact.

I tend to have lots of projects on the go at any one time, and I enjoy working with a range of mediums, but I rarely use digital means to create images. I can get bored labouring on one thing excessively and I need to switch around to keep momentum. If I do get stuck, I’ll draw a wizard. 

I studied fine art at college and most of my work since graduating has been done for fun rather than on commission. It’s only recently that I’ve decided to focus on generating work as an illustrator, and this has encouraged my current practice of working small and fast and varied. 

Where would we find you when you’re not at work?

On Mondays I run around Crystal Palace and acknowledge the dinosaurs. On Tuesdays I paint small plates in a ceramics shop in Balham. Wednesdays I get my comics at Orbital. Thursday through Sunday, I have no idea. I’m still new to London so I can’t say I have many regular haunts.   

Would you intern for yourself?

I think so, things would get done twice as fast and then there would be lots of free time to play table tennis with myself. I’m painting lava caves at the moment and it’s a pure slog, I would be happy to get some help with that.


Matthew Daniel Swan: Femme Fatale (With a Shooter)


Matthew Daniel Swan: Illustration for Esquire Russia


Matthew Daniel Swan: Fish Glyph


Matthew Daniel Swan: Horse


Matthew Daniel Swan: Man With Dog