Edge of the Map is a Graphic Design and Photography site run by Matt. Based in Newquay, Matt's work is dramatic and dynamic with a striking balance of scale and the raw elements of the Cornish landscape. His writing style is as unique as his work, with narrative captions that combine just the right amount of humour to not be pretentious, but enough of a story to keep you engaged. Unable to resist hearing more, Seafox caught up with Edge of the Map UK to find out what fuels Matt's passion for visual arts, his cliffside adventures and the inspiration for his ever imaginative writing style.
How long have you been interested in photography?
Probably about 4/5 years. I’m only going to count from where I got my first decent camera, everything before that was practice. I started with a crappy little fuji bridge before playing with GoPros and then moving on to a Sony A380, which was awesome because it was cheap and I was working minimum wage jobs. The first decent photo I took was of my foot while surfing, which coincidentally was also the first time I had ever considered my foot to be worthy of note, sadly the foot modelling career didn’t take off, but I really liked the photo and went on from there.
And when did you start taking “amazing photos in bluntly stupid conditions to satisfy [your] dangerous obsession to find a sense of adventure”?
Well that’s mostly fancy pants sales talk. I’m not comfortable describing myself as taking amazing photos because I genuinely think the more I’m complimented the more likely I am to get lazy and sell out, especially if I’m talking about myself. Stupid conditions were probably the first time I slid down a cliff on my ass. I don’t think my lower back has been the same since, but I bought myself a pair of Doc Martens a couple of years ago and I haven’t slid down since. The dangerous obsession with finding a sense of adventure is a side effect of being unable to leave Cornwall (I fear the England, not the UK, not the world, but England, they’ll steal the pasties or some other stereotype if I turn my back for too long) but not being able to sit down for more than 5 minutes without wanting to see something and getting bored.
How much of an influence does the ocean/environment have on your creativity?
A lot, if I’m excited about the environment I think the pictures genuinely capture some of that energy, be it happy energy or sad energy, part of that emerges from the photo and if the environment is awesome, that’s like fuel for my personal fire. I also strongly believe in a risk = reward kind of thing, which explains the frequent trips down cliffs and preferring to only take photos while baiting the nearest apex predator.
Does it have an effect on your graphic design work too?
To an extent, my personal work is very much a detox for the energy I build up by either not being able to take photos or having just taken a load of photos. Then again, occasionally I just do it to just chill out, then I find out it’s 1AM and I need all the beauty sleep I can get. If you want complete honesty, if I’m drained I find it very hard to design or take photos, occasionally I need a creative boost.
Your Instagram is filled with captions about the stories behind the images, but what is your favourite story and the image that accompanies it?
Oh jeez, um, at the moment, probably the one about Giant Cornish Woodlice, I legitimately went well off the deep end with that caption, honestly though, not the biggest fan of that photo, favourite photo is probably LIMITED, BRAVE or TORN, they’re all dramatic and kind of very raw, they’re straight from the heart.
Where is your favourite place to capture images? Why?
That’s an even harder question! I recently fell back in love with taking photos of the beaches at Newquay, but I spend a lot of time at Bodmin Moor too, the Lizard and all that down there are pretty high on my list of places to basically spend all my time at. As for why, I generally look for something that’s clearly had interaction with people but is very unpeopled, so if someone does appear in the photo, you get an idea of scale.
If you could describe your work in 3 words, what would they be?
“Stop and think”, “Breath and focus” but I guess they’re more about how I shoot, I guess “minimal people landscape” might be how I would like to some it all up. 3 words is hard! If you want me to be my normal self-deprecating self, I would describe it as “barely any good” but I don’t know, “trying my best” probably sounds better than that.
And finally, what does the sea mean to you personally?
To me, the sea is change, it’s constant and unyielding, it’s barely there because it’s always there. It’s the great equaliser and it plays such an intrinsic part in my life that it’s probably always going to be a focus for me. Also it’s a great source of puns, you’ll sea what I’m doing here hopefully.
Nomadic writer and designer