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Conversations | Matthew Shlian


As a paper engineer, Matthew's work is rooted in print media, book arts and commercial design. Beginning with an initial fold, a single action causes a transfer of energy to subsequent folds, which ultimately manifest in drawing and three dimensional forms.


Describe a project you’re currently working on to a 5 year old.

Dad folds and glues paper and then people pay him money for it, then he buys you books and food.


Your preferred method of getting that good creative vibe going.

I need music to work. And a chunk of hours. I cannot get anything done in a small window of time. I don't have any special rituals, just being in the studio is enough of a break from the rest of the world.



A piece of art in your home that you LOVE.

I somehow convinced Mike Cina to trade me a few paintings and they are my favorite things in our home. It's not this exact one but it's in this series.


What drives you absolutely nuts about the (art) world?

I tried so hard to understand NFT's and it is totally over my head. The amount of people telling me to get in was astounding. Can I rant? Six months before they became a thing I had a collector tell me about them and that I needed to get "into the space" and I told him it sounded like a scam, and that even if I was at (or near) the top of the pyramid it still was a scheme.


I 100% understand digital artists doing gifs, animations etc getting in. Go get paid! I want artists to make money. I love the idea that you might get residual payments when people flip your work. I'm on board for all that. All the rest...money laundering, environmental aspects, just the greed...I don't get the hype. Also 99% of them look like hot garbage. I'm super privileged that I'm in a place that people want to buy and live with my work. I make tangible things you can hold and move around. Maybe a more desperate Matt from 20 years ago would be trying to sell you a paper NFT. I don't know.


A quote or lyric that your brain won’t shake.

The man who has many answers

is often found

in the theaters of information

where he offers, graciously,

his deep findings.


While the man who has only questions,

to comfort himself, makes music.”


― Mary Oliver



Most recent song you've been listening to on repeat.

Ka's Grief Pedigree and The Night's Gambit albums. I couldn't tell you song names, just the full albums front to back.


Last book you read that you couldn't put down.

I listened to the audiobook of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.


Recent life upgrade that's been a game changer.

I wouldn't say it's a game changer but I bought this old timey apple peeler and my kids LOVE it. It spins the apple and peels / cores / cuts it at the same time. You end up with this apple spring you can eat. I saw it and immediately thought "this is my Sunday."


Advice, compliment, insult... something someone once told you that you will never forget.

"The thing that you're looking for, that you don't know that you're looking for, will be in a place where you don't expect it." My daughter Fjora told me this when she was 8.



What was the most memorable field trip you can remember?

On my 21st birthday I chaperoned the Prince of Bhutan around the Air and Space museum in DC.


What podcast or show are you recommending that others may not have heard/seen?

Starlee Kine's Mystery Show- Full throated 100% recommendation for a podcast (or any form of entertainment). It's a crime there was no second season. Give her all the money and let her do whatever she wants.


If someone asks you to cook your "specialty" - what are you cooking?

Eggs probably. I have unlimited patience for my work and almost no patience for anything else that requires similar focus.



Check out more of Matthew's artwork here.


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