Jan Matthews

“The drive to create has always been such a strong force in my life”.

Original Alcohol Ink Artist

How did art find its way into your life?

I remember having no interest in dolls or any traditional girlythings. A Tiny Tears was given as a Christmas present when I was around three years old, and I can still feel that pang of disappointment now. I appeared to have a slight obsession with crayons and coloured pencils, and incredibly early in my life I had an established stationery cupboard filled with paper, pencils, paints and brushes, it was a magical space.

At five, (and this may sound quite weird) I was designing and making shoes and sandals, from cardboard and string. The drive to create has always been such a strong force in my life. I am sure if I were to be chopped in half like a piece of Blackpool rock, the word ‘creative’ would run the whole way through me.

Was there a stop daydreaming moment or was there total support for your artistic persona?

I was born in 1961, into a working-class family in the industrial North of England. There were constant stop daydreaming moments. Unfortunately, by the time I was expressing a great desire to attend art college, it was 1977, and it was expected that I would find a menial job and await being plucked from the shelf to marry and have children. Only I aspired, no one around me did. I realised that I needed to break free from what was expected. So, I joined the Army, and became part of an exceptionally large family, the downside to this being my art had been placed on the back burner, for quite a few years.

Why alcohol inks?

When I joined Instagram, I was working with Acrylic, but struggling to find my style, and that seemed to bother me. I wanted to be recognisable by my style, I am not sure why this was so important to me. I saw some wispy alcohol ink art and loved how it looked. In my typical gung-ho way, I immediately invested in the inks, synthetic paper and isopropyl, only to realise that the wispy, abstract style that was out there, didn’t mean anything to me. I like my art to actually represent something tangible. I wondered what I could do with alcohol ink, what techniques I could apply to achieve what I was striving. There are limitations, but few enough to maintain my passion for this medium. I can easily produce the straight lines and bold colours that I want. My style had found me.

“As with most artists I am my own harshest critic”.

Was your success instant, or have you had to work at gaining success?

How do you measure success? In monetary terms? Or a feeling of self-pride at what you are achieving? I feel lucky that I can sell my work, and that most of my clients are repeat buyers. I believe that my need for constant self-improvement, and the fact that, as with most artists I am my own harshest critic drives me. I am constantly looking for new techniques, that will stretch me as an artist, and push those Alcohol Inks as far as they will go.

What is your main aim as an artist?

To be happy with the work I produce. Most living artist are not wealthy; we are driven by a desire to create. My main aim was always to sell affordable original art. Of course, there are a lot of costs to consider in producing art, but I would always wish my work to be accessible and affordable for most people who enjoy it to be able to purchase.

Preston is a hard-working northern city, your work is delicate and inspiring, how do these worlds co- exist?

Preston is a gritty city for sure. Breaking free from Preston at 18, I discovered a world that I never knew existed. Being a driver in the Army, I got to travel to some breath-taking places. They stayed in my mind, inspired me and shaped the way I look at the world today. Back home in Lancashire, what a fabulous place to be located. Surrounded by nature, within Lancashire and the whole of Cumbria and Yorkshire. We are so ideally situated to take full advantage.

What frustrates you about the art world?
entiousness. I would elaborate but I don’t think I need to.

Who are your main influences?

I painted on glasswork for 20 years, and during this time had a fascination with stained glass. On a personal level I visited Glasgow frequently, and discovered Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I do love his design. Then there is Gaudi, what an imagination that man had. Fabulous.

My main influence is nature itself. I find incredible beauty in trees, the roll of hills, craggy rock formations, coastlines and skies full of colour or cloud. We only have to look around, It’s all there.

Has your style changed over the years?

I would say that my style has developed, as opposed to changed. I’ve always liked clean lines and distinction, achieving this is different with every medium used. I would like to think that I have improved greatly over the last two years. I am constantly looking for a better way, and for more techniques to push the ink to do more. A lot of alcohol ink artists claim to have little control over the ink. I always feel as though I have the control that I need.

What is the greatest compliment someone has paid to your work?

I find each sale I make is a huge compliment. That people are willing to spend hard earned money to have a painting of mine on their wall is a massive deal. I’ve just had my best 12 month period of sales, which is amazing considering the current economic climate, and US company icanvas approached me a few months ago for a collaboration and have just licenced 40 of my original paintings to put into print. This is great validation for me.

Being active on Instagram brings me the most fantastic feedback, my following has grown, and I’m constantly complimented on my style. People say that my work is instantly recognisable, and as I mentioned earlier, this was always important for my personal journey as an artist.

Jan Matthews



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