Artists Allied

Matt Busch is another one of the artists I've had the pleasure of meeting in person. While being pretty cool and not a bad person to be a convention roommate with, I like the fact that he is striving toward and achieving his lofty goals of becoming a filmmaker.

Artists Allied: Spotlight on Matt Busch
By Terri Hodges


1. Everyone wants to know... how did you become Lucasfilm approved?

It's sort of a funny story that happened way back in '94. I wanted to illustrate for the STAR WARS Roleplaying Game (then run by West End Games). They weren't hiring illustrators, but did place an ad that they were looking for professional writers.

Well, I pretty much lied about being a published writer, but I was slick enough to get an approval to send in sample stories if I wanted. I inquired if I could also do the art (which was what I really wanted to do) but West End informed me that they had their own team of Lucasfilm approved artists. They did, however say that I could do spec art- but only with the intention of serving as a guide or ideas for the 'real' artists.

So I wrote a story, created the art for it, and sent it in. Turned out- they hated my story. But- they loved the art, and hired me within 24 hours to illustrate another STAR WARS project. It was ironic, because art was what I really wanted to do.

And- not to completely shut out my interests in writing, I did end up also writing a number of projects for the Roleplaying Game years later...


2. Where do you hail from? How did you end up where you are?
I reside in Macomb Township, Michigan, not all that far from where I grew up, so I'm close to family and friends. I lived in Los Angeles for about seven years, and consider that a second home since I'm out there all the time.

Believe it or not, I was born in Lebanon. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, that is.


3. Tell me about your family... Do you have siblings? Are you married, single or otherwise? Kids? Pets?
I'm the oldest. One brother and two sisters. Great Mom and Dad. Not married yet, though I'm pretty tight with fellow Allied-Artist Sarah Wilkinson.

And I'm not responsible enough to handle children or even pets at this stage.


4. Is anyone else in your family artistic in any way?
Actually, each of my siblings is artists in a different way. My sister Delena is a top hair dresser here in Michigan. My brother Ian is an independent filmmaker. And my sister Jessica is a dancer (not the pole kind).

5. What or who was your biggest influence?
I know everyone says George Lucas, but it's certainly the same case with me. With both STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES, my whole childhood was built around the imagination fuel that George delivered to my generation.

6. Did you go to art school (and where) or are you self taught?
While I did go to art school, I'd have to say that most of what I know and use professionally was self taught, usually the hard way- by trial and error.

However, I should give props to Macomb College near Detroit (where I currently also teach), The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and the Los Angeles Academy of Art (you'll have to guess where that is).


7. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I think I've always known that I've wanted to grow up being able to express myself creatively. The problem was I never knew exactly what I wanted to do. In fact, I still don’t know!

When I was young, I wanted to be an actor, a writer, an illustrator, a comic book artist, a musician, and a filmmaker. (Though not necessarily in that order.) I had a hard time choosing one specific area.

Now that I'm a grown man, I want to be an actor, a writer, an illustrator, a comic book artist, a musician, and a filmmaker. (Though not necessarily in that order.) I have a hard time choosing one specific area.


8. On what Lucasfilm (in particular) and other projects have you worked in the past?
I've been lucky enough to do a bunch of official STAR WARS projects for Lucasfilm and their respective licensees for over twelve years now. I've done dozens of projects for the Roleplaying Game, both at West End and Wizards of the Coast. I illustrated the cover of TALES From The EMPIRE for Bantam Books. I designed concept toys for Mattel when they were bidding for the toy license. I wrote and/or illustrated dozens of articles for both STAR WARS INSIDER and STAR WARS KIDS Magazine. I did production art for a new STAR TOURS ride at Disneyland that has yet to be created. I illustrated the program cover for CELEBRATION II. I did an EPISODE II themed poster for a European Convention that was also published in the recent STAR WARS POSTER BOOK. I've done thousands of sketch cards for both of Topps' HERITAGE and REVENGE OF THE SITH series. I did a limited edition lithograph poster for CELEBRATION III. I illustrated a dozen pieces for the "VADER: The Ultimate Guide" book that came out last summer. Most recently, I illustrated the commemorative 25th Anniversary Poster for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. I know I've got to be forgetting some stuff here...

Outside of STAR WARS, I've worked with major musical artists like ALICE COOPER, BEASTIE BOYS, BECK, BLACK SABBATH, CINDERELLA, FOO FIGHTERS, GARBAGE, KID ROCK, L.L. COOL J, BILLY JOEL, POISON, MEGADETH, MOTLEY CRUE, TED NUGENT, OZZY OSBOURNE, and JESSICA SIMPSON. I've done everything for CD and poster design, to art for their websites, collectibles, and even Concert T-Shirts.

I've also done a plethora of other movie, comic book, and trading card work on such properties as LORD OF THE RINGS, THE CROW, G.I. JOE, The HULK, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, The MATRIX, RESERVOIR DOGS, LEXX, BRUCE LEE, LADY DEATH, WITCHBLADE, ROBOCOP, The MUMMY, STARGATE SG-1, CON-AIR and STAR TREK.


9. If your home caught on fire, what would you grab while running out the door?
My computer. I have way too many files and work that is irreplaceable!

10. Do you have any other talents you would like to share?
I've actually been focusing much of my attention to making independent movies. I've been working behind-the-scenes long enough on bigger Hollywood productions that are watered down, slow-moving, and driven more by monetary statistics than actual creativity.

For example, I've written a screenplay called "CRISIS" that is currently in development with Rebel Films and set to star John Leguizamo. However, in the last two years, there has been barely any movement, since everything has to be approved by all the execs at Universal and the marketing and statistics crew. Insert Yawn here.

In those same two years, I've written, directed, produced, edited, and even created music for my own independent movie called "CONJURE". Certainly it's not as huge and epic as the studio movie will be, but it certainly has been a much more rewarding experience not having to answer or wait on anyone else to do what I want. The film will be released on DVD everywhere on March 28th, and you can find out more at www.ConjureTheMovie.com.


11. What was your first job? What was your first professional art job?
My first job was making subs at Tubby's. That didn't last long. My first professional art job was illustrating a movie poster for a Spanish movie called (translated, of course) CALIFORNIA FEVER. The art is embarrassing. Thank God you can only find this movie in Spain!

12. What projects are you currently working on?
Most of my time right now has been spent working with Razor Digital Entertainment marketing and promoting “CONJURE", as well as putting final touches on the DVD's Bonus Features.

I'm also currently designing a new Art Book collecting my work. John Dolmayan from the band SYSTEM OF A DOWN is writing the Introduction for it.


13. What is your favorite person or thing that you like to draw? Least favorite?
I think drawing old-school Stormtroopers are just the coolest. However, whenever I doodle mindlessly, I find that I'm always drawing Ninjas.

14. If you were trapped on a desert island, name 3 people that you would want to have with you?
Sarah Wilkinson. And Kate and Sawyer could be our friends.

15. If you could do any other job, what would it be?
I've already done every job that I could ever dream of doing! I'm the jack of all trades, master of none! The only thing I could strive for is to get better at all of them.

16. Here is your chance to name drop: Have you met any of your heroes? Anyone else of note?
I've met and hung out with a few cool actors and rock stars, but I find that my biggest heroes and folks I love to hang out with are my fellow artists in the field. I feel at home with them. I love talking shop and bouncing creative ideas off one another. Honestly, all of the artists listed on this site are my heroes.

17. If you could live in any time in history, what would it be and why?
Right now. This is the best, healthiest, craziest time to live. We're seeing history and technology change faster than ever before. The technology that we have at our fingertips... Now is the best time for anyone to be an artist because it's really easy to get your work out there and make it available world-wide!

18. What turns you into a big fanboy or fangirl?
What turns me into a fanboy is anything STAR WARS, SILENT HILL, and INDIANA JONES. What turns me into a fangirl is LOST, AMERICAN GOTHIC, and FATAL FRAME.

19. Do you have any collections (geeky or otherwise)?
No obsessive collections, but I dig comics and trading cards like everyone else. I do collect Indonesian statues, though. I'm a bit obsessive about Shiva stautues and those creepy-looking elephants with the four arms. I've never taken the time to learn about the Hindu religion, but I love their icons to death! My house looks like the 'temple of doom'!

20. What is your proudest moment?
Recently at the "CONJURE" premiere in Detroit, overseeing a jam-packed audience view my movie. Just seeing the audience reactions in unison. The screaming... The laughing (all at the right times, mind you)...

I think I'm realizing the connection between all of the artistic venues I'm pursuing. Essentially, I'm an entertainer at heart. I think all of us artists are. Whether we are making a painting, making a movie, making music, or any other form of artistic expression, we are trying to get emotions out of people from our work.

David Lee Roth once said, "I want to make you laugh. I want to make you cry. I want to make you scream with delight. And then I want to charge you $8.50."


21. And finally.. Tell us something about yourself no one would expect.
I have never ever watched an entire sports game on TV.
Check out Matt Busch's websites: www.mattbusch.com and www.ConjureTheMovie.com


Thanks for reading!
Be sure to check out all of our Artist Spotlights!