Get Familiar: Mats Mingus
Young Amsterdam-based Artist Mats Mingus has been part of the Patta family and in the last couple of seasons, he has become a familiar face in our lookbooks. He has been working on his artwork, travelling to London with Team Patta all whilst documenting the process armed with the brand new Polaroid Go Black and Black Go Film. There is no better time than now to get familiar with Mats; find out his influences, creative processes and what the future looks like for him.
What are the earliest images you have of yourself, what were you up to?
That would be my birth - me taking my first breath of air I suppose.
Did you grow up with a camera around you?
When I was younger, there were a lot of cameras around me. My grandpa had a photography store. Which also happened to be one of the first to sell Polaroid! So my father and uncles grew up immersed in that. Both my uncles would go on to be in that world too. One became a director and my other uncle is still a photographer. My father became a Graphic Designer but he always used to take a lot of pictures on vacation. I never really picked up a camera until now and only started making a lot of photos once I had a smartphone.
What work does your uncle make?
Marcel van der Vlugt began in the commercial photography world but eventually went solo making his own art. He always made a lot of polaroids and portraits of people applying all kinds of materials to the face sort of reforming or retexturing the human face, at least that’s how I interpret it. He is now working on a project called “Anotherland” where he has created his own unknown world with its own rituals and signs, where some of which he shoots on this insane 20 x 24 polaroid. He also used me a couple of times for these photos. One time when it was snowing we went to the beach and I had to stand there a couple of hours in some rags, pretty cold, but pretty cool.
How has it been for you to use this new Polaroid Go Camera?
The experience was lovely. I’m used to making a lot of my photographs on my smartphone but these days, my phone is somehow always full. I have been thinking about maybe going the digital camera route but then this project came up just at the perfect time. I always loved seeing my uncle’s work and now I had the chance to do it myself.
The learning curve wasn’t that steep and after just a few hours I got the hang of it! Due to its small size, I was able to carry it everywhere I went. It's so small I could carry it in my jacket! The most impressive thing about shooting in this format is how much it changes your view because every shot counts and feels like each shot has value. You keep your eye out for those shots when you’re walking around with this. For me, Polaroid changed photography because once I had taken my images, I wasn’t done yet. After all, you get it physically. The final image would even change colour based on how on the temperature! It may sound super simple but creating an image and being able to hold it in such a short space of time is such a big part of the experience. You walk around, while it develops waiting for the surprises in your pocket. Every time I got home, I had all the photos spread out on my table and I would add the new ones from the day to that collection - switching the layout, testing out which ones worked best next to each other. Time flew by on this project but I guess that’s what happens when you’re having fun.
What was your favourite image you made from the journey?
I remember when I was in London for the Patta Soundsystem x Apron Records shoot, there was this location we went to with these Porches somewhere in the East. On the wall was a graffiti piece that said “FAST”, in all capital letters, once I saw that, I waited for the right moment and click. I got it. A nice motion blur of the Porsche moving with the text in sharp “FAST” right above the car.
What space does photography take in your creative process?
Well, it used to stand close to my other mediums, because I would use photography for my silkscreen work. Where a photo would get closer to a painting or I would use it for my digital work where I would make it seem a photo was more like graphic design. However, with this project with Polaroid, I really wanted to tackle it and see what my photographic eye would pick up in this world and I loved it. So I really want to keep it going after this.
What direction have you been taking your art in this past year?
I used to make art around a certain style and mentality whilst focusing on painting and sculpture. I find consciousness to be one of the most interesting things in life, mainly when pushed into a corner, the survival instinct way of thinking but also how people act in a tunnel vision of anxiety. This year I tried to put that a bit more aside for new things, such as digital art and achieving distortion in my photos by manipulating my phone's operating system. As well as more tryouts in general like silkscreen, furniture and new subject matter for my work in general.
Tell us about the recent trip you had to a scrap metal site?
So, I’m now working on this collage work, not in a way that I glue stuff onto each other but more that I have 5 separate works 5 mediums that together form one work, mainly surrounding western affairs in the middle east. So it will exist out of a big piece of retouched scrap metal attached to the wall next to a silkscreen of multiple morphed world leaders of the last fifteen years, a wooden laser cut of a drone silhouette, a shirt and an oil painting of drone footage. So that was the way I went to the scrap metal site, but I’ve now also started making works by carving and scratching into the paint of old refrigerators and car parts.
You have been screen printing a lot recently, what do you like about that medium?
Yes, I never worked with it before but it always amazed me to see these big-scale silk screens. I wanted to make something with it combined by digital works because I love pixelation. So I wanted to combine this painterly feeling of paintings with pixelation possibilities of silkscreen That's what I like about silkscreen the possibility of combining analogue and digital.
How was the trip to London?
So much fun man, I always heard these stories of the Patta trips abroad from Tirino and Vincent and now I was finally there myself. It was my second time in London but the first time I was mainly skateboarding. Got to see these famous spots but this time I also got to see more of the nightlife and explore the city with friends it was so nice. We also had a couple of shoots to do for Patta with Dennis Branko so it was fun to be a part of those projects too. The only thing is that I sadly found out about the Francis Bacon show way too late so sadly couldn’t check that out but hey, all in all amazing. Much love!
Just like Apron Records’ own Steven Julien, you show a real passion for cars, what kind of cars do you like the most?
I’m a giant car nerd and I don’t even have a driver's licence! Porsches are my all-time favourite, just the ages of perfecting one model, it speaks to me, this repetition and this culture in the Porsche world of making them your own like what Magnus Walker does, speaks to me.
Skating is a hobby that you seem to have never put down, how does learning to be okay with failure teach in order to successfully help you in other parts of your life?
When I was younger I never really knew what I wanted to become next to becoming a pro, well I never came close to that, but that realisation did hit me hard though at one point. Well, it’s not really that part of failure, that would be later but more the free mentality of skateboarding. It’s basically something you do on your own, doing it with your friends is more fun of course and seeing your friends skate is also nice for inspiration and motivation for tricks but at the and its, your feet on your board and I guess that is what I mostly took from skateboarding to my art. I do it on my own with my own style and like with skateboarding everyone has their own style and that is what makes them interesting just like with art everyone has their own style but you can see so much beauty in a style even tho you might do the exact opposite yourself.
Where does print find space in this digital world?
In art, the digital medium is an enormous portion of how art can be explored. That’s what I like because people have said in the past that everything has already been done, well I don’t agree and digital art is a perfect example. For me, I find printing a nice way to bring this digital art back into the analogue world and combine it with more traditional techniques, also because I personally find it hard to keep something on a screen but that’s just for my own work right now we’ll see.
What can we expect in the upcoming future?
I never really explored abstract art for myself, like creating it myself and I always thought of myself as being more into figurative but recently with these silkscreen works I saw something I want to explore is more in the realms of abstract. So I guess that’s to be added to my list of stuff to make - which is already a pretty broad spectrum but I’m just exploring a lot still. But right now I’m still very busy with these collage works and I’m making multiple for my final art school project this year.