Matthew Stone and FKA Twigs are two very different artists, though neither are in need of an introduction. Both renowned in their respective fields of art and music, the pair have been friends since their first meeting back in 2011. “I met her in a club and said that I’d love to photograph her,” the London-based artist tells It’s Nice That. “As I remember it, she responded by saying: ‘Everyone tells me that’, something we laugh about now.”
After this chance meeting, the singer-songwriter-dancer emailed Matthew, asking him to collaborate on some visuals for her music, and happily accepting, the pair started working together. It’s still very much the case today, eight years and several projects later. First shooting the critically-acclaimed, genre-blending musician for the cover of i-D magazine with her now creative director Matthew Josephs, the artist went onto create the artwork for her famed 2015 EP, M3L155X. And more recently, the album artwork for her much anticipated upcoming record Magdalene, set for release on 25 October via Young Turks.
Their collaboration is a two-way street. “If I’m ever flagging on a shoot, she takes over and directs me,” continues Matthew, “and she is always, very much, an integral creative partner in the process.” Reimagining Twigs through his signature aesthetic of thick painterly strokes lavished across a linen canvas, Matthew first approached the project by responding to imagery put together by Twigs and her creative director.
“They had been looking at the Argentinian surrealist painter Leonor Fini and her acid-hued palette” explains Matthew. Pairing this influence with Matthew’s mixed-media style to inform the album artwork’s visuals, when it came to the cover’s concept however, Matthew had different ideas. “I am constantly inspired by the physical presence and strength Twigs brings to her performances,” he says on the matter (and anyone who’s ever seen an FKA Twigs music video must whole-heartedly agree). “So I wanted to depict her body in a way that reflected that, and how I see her using it.”
Positioning Twigs in an empowering, throne-like manner, he then transformed the artwork through his trademark process. First painting the composition onto glass, then photographing the paint, Matthew then brings the artwork into the digital. Going on to cut out the brushstrokes and combine them with textures to be used in 3D modelling software, he then renders his final imagery and prints it on linen to achieve his distinctly original style.
On this multilayered method of making his work, Matthew explains, “Logically, I should be some archaic revivalist, headset against the digital.” Outside of making of art, he prefers to spend time connecting with nature over everything else. Having learnt to “slow down” and intuitively connect to the consciousness of plants, he surprises himself by the urge to keep returning to the digital. Fundamentally attempting to “breathe humanity” back into the medium, at the moment, Matthew’s principle goal is to “make images that feel right to me.” And for now, “this feels like the best way to do it.”