I recently came across a local artist on Twitter who posted a picture of a leather bracelet that he had made. As I was already looking for some Viking apparel to wear on stage to irritate my bandmates, I asked him if he sold his bracelets. A couple of weeks later, I received two gorgeous black leather bracelets with Celtic imprints in the mail (at a very reasonable price). The artist's name is Matthew Sparks and it turns out that he also does comic book work and other illustrations. Matthew was very professional in my dealings with him, so I thought I'd give him an opportunity to present some of his work to The Blog of Doom community.
How did you get into doing leatherwork?
MS: I actually got into leather work due to wrestling. I'm a big wrestling fan and I had recently purchased a replica belt from WWE. Although I liked it, the strap is a type of plastic with no flexibility. I thought about having it re-leathered, but would not be able to pay an additional $200 - $300 on additional work on my belt, so I decided to try it myself. Since leather is expensive, I used scrap pieces that the company I work for sells for cheap. I made a bracelet for my wife and it sort of caught on from there.
Are you only doing bracelets right now, or have you ventured into other areas?
MS: For the time being, yes, I am only doing bracelets due to the cost of leather. I would eventually like to venture into the wrestling replica belt re-leather market.
Who are your target customers? Did you envision selling bracelets to metal musicians for stage apparel?
MS: To be honest, I never had a consumer in mind. It was just something to practice on for my replica belt as well as a new hobby to help me take a break from my comic book and illustration work.
Speaking of your artwork, what kind of themes do you focus on for your comic books and illustrations?
MS: I usually focus in the hero genre, but I can do just about anything as far as illustrations go.
Do you do commission work, such as album covers, show flyers, band artwork, etc?
MS: I do commissions, but it’s mostly illustrations I get at conventions. I don't do a lot of band artwork or flyers. Then again, I’ve never been asked to.