L.A. resident and artist Matthew Reinhart is known for his imaginative pop-up books, like “Frozen,” “Harry Potter,” “Star Wars” and more. His most recent book, “Marvel Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-up Book” is now available for pre-order. We recently chatted with Matthew about his art, his books and life in L.A.
Tell us about the new “Marvel Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book.”
“Marvel Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book” stars the biggest heroes of the Marvel Universe (and a few villains) illustrated, as I like to say, in three dimensions, combining interactive pop-ups with spectacular comic book artwork. I crammed as many Marvel characters into this book as I could! Working on this project has really been a dream come true for me, since the very beginning of my career about twenty years ago. Having grown up on the legendary comic book art of artists like Jack Kirby, Jim Lee, Steve Ditko and Todd MacFarlane (to name a few), it only felt natural to me that favorites like the Hulk, Spider-Man and the X-men exploding into action off the pages of a pop-up book.
What first drew you to comic books, comic art and paper art?
I wasn’t a big book reader when I was young – I liked the pictures! Comics were less acceptable reads when I was young, at least in a school setting. I was drawn to science fiction (due to STAR WARS primarily) and fantasy, but was forced to read the classics in school. Those sorts of books, at least at the time, weren’t interesting to me – they weren’t the kind of escape that I needed or wanted to find in books. Comic book stories about super heroes, giant robots, mutants and space aliens were more my speed – and still are!
As far as my interest in paper arts, I don’t think I’ve ever NOT been into creating with paper. I mean, as a kid, paper is about the only universal material that all kids have access to create with. Whether I was making cardboard dioramas with old cereal boxes or puppets from paper cups and leftover cardboard, I’ve been a paper artist since day one. Paper is a magical material, really – it’s flat, light and easy to manipulate. You can cut, shape, rip and fold paper and yet, with some modifications, it can become very strong, it can cause movement, stand under its own support and, if you’re not careful, it can cut you!
As an avid creator of children’s books, how do you stay inspired?
I try to stop and take a look at the world around me. There’s so much to take inspiration from – Hubble telescope photos of the Pillars of Creation, a construction crane, street art, a Transformers toy, cereal box design – it’s all right in front of our eyes every day. I also think the deep connection to my childhood self helps. I don’t think the kid inside me ever left – whether that’s good or bad!
Did you have a mentor growing up? And what role did that person play in your life and your career?
It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I had any sort of mentor in my life, aside from my parents and family. It wasn’t until I was in college that someone took some interest guiding me along creatively. I took a figure drawing class and was already fairly adept, but my instructor, Professor Cliff Peacock (yup, that’s his real name) didn’t quite accept the work I was making. I was clearly better than other students in the class, but he could see that I wasn’t challenging myself. He pushed me to do the uncomfortable, to try new techniques, to take roads untraveled. He may not remember me or think he did anything special for me during that class at all. I feel very differently about it – he opened my eyes to a bigger world.
Best life advice you received growing up?
Don’t be afraid of change – and be open to changing your mind. Work hard and give everyone equal respect.
When not working, where will we find you?
At the gym first thing in the morning or outside taking a walk through the neighborhood. Oh and I love a good shopping trip to Target!
What would you tell your middle school self?
Keep on the path, but maybe get outside more and exercise! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and laugh at yourself – I mean, it was the mid-1980’s, so there was a lot to laugh at.
What are some of your favorite spots and activities in and around L.A.?
We’ve been here less than a year, so we’re still feeling everything out. Top of the list so far: walks in Runyon Canyon, visits to the Getty, lunch at the Farmers’ Market at the Grove, dinner at Casita del Campo in Silverlake – sometimes I’m just happy enjoying the view of everything from the Hollywood Hills.