Time for a different kind of Meeting the Makers feature! Today we are hanging out with Matt of Ex-Boyfriend and learning about the business he created with his wife Meredith. They have lots of fun & funny goodies in their shop including some spacey designs that are just perfect for our theme this month. Ex-Boyfriend also has a great passion project supporting the SPCA-100% of the net proceeds of any purchase of an art print, magnet or keychain bottle opener made today will be donated to help homeless animals.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, my name is Matt Snow. I’m 31, a Virgo, and love art, music, baseball, and animals. I studied graphic design at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and live in Baltimore, Maryland with my wife Meredith and our three cats, Oliver, Bigby, and Penelope. I’m the owner and designer at Ex-Boyfriend, a clothing, accessories, and housewares label.
When and why did you start Ex-Boyfriend?
My wife and I actually started Ex-Boyfriend back in late 2005 in a very different format. It was really more of a vehicle for Meredith’s handicrafts, which always got compliments from both our friends & family, but also complete strangers. At the time, we focused mostly on belt buckles, duct tape wallets, shrinky-dink magnets, “Japanese pop art” rings, and decorative bracelets made out of recycled beer cans. We just figured that we enjoyed making these things anyway, so we might as well make a little money off it if possible.
From there, we slowly got away from that stuff and started incorporating more of my illustrations into the designs, had some shirts screen printed, and just went from there. I will say that the “official” genesis of Ex-Boyfriend as it exists now was early 2009.
I know you get asked this a lot, but what’s the story behind the name?
I HATE this question because you’re absolutely right — I get asked about it by pretty much everyone I meet, and the answer is pretty boring and long-winded. The easy answer is that there IS no story; it’s just a flirty, catchy, and memorable brand name, like Apple or something.
The real answer is that an ex of Meredith’s left behind a t-shirt that she tailored and embellished for herself, and always got compliments on it. Whenever people asked where she got it, she said “It’s my ex-boyfriend’s t-shirt.” She actually had the idea for the name of the company even before we decided to start it!
How would you describe Ex-Boyfriend’s overall aesthetic?
“Dadaist pop culture bouillabaisse”? There are a lot of influences to my designs, but they all sort of get filtered through an absurdist lens. We try to come up with concepts that are clever and funny, but not so “inside-jokey” that they can’t be enjoyed on their own merits.
Do you consider yourself more of a designer or more of an illustrator?
Yeesh…definitely an illustrator. Meredith is actually the ideas person — she gives me a concept and a couple reference images, and I flesh it out from there — as well as being the final arbiter of when a design is complete. She’s very good at tightening up flawed compositions and helping me figure out how to configure the individual elements in a design.
List some of your biggest inspirations:
Gah! So many! Art nouveau, art deco, de Stijl, pop art, atomic age stuff, pulp novel covers, Communist propaganda posters, Silver Age comics, animals (specifically my cats, but I love them all), my wife, my grandmother, music, John Waters films, John Hughes movies (pre-Curly Sue), John Cusack’s roles in the early-mid 1980s… the list could go on forever, I think!
What do you have in store for 2012?
Well, right now Ex-Boyfriend is running a fundraising promotion for the Maryland SPCA: now through April 15th, we’re donating 100% of the net proceeds from the sales of our art prints, magnets, and keychain bottle openers to the MD SPCA in honor of April being National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.
The art prints are actually a new addition to our product line, and we’re hoping to add some more new stuff this summer, like wallets, fun stationery, and of course new designs!
We’re also gearing up for a busy show season, trekking all over the eastern half of the U.S. If anyone would like to stop by our booth for free swag or just to say “hi”, they can get details (and coupon codes!) from our Facebook page or by signing up for our monthly email newsletter on our website!
Thanks for visiting us & sharing your story with us Matt!