Matthew Hall has finally seemed to find his home.
Currently working as a graphic designer for InLiquid Art and Design in Fishtown, Hall was born in Tallahassee, Florida, and moved to Salt Lake City before ultimately relocating to Philadelphia last summer. He found himself in Philadelphia not only because of business opportunities, but because of the affordability.
“When I got out of grad school and got my [master’s degree in fine arts], I kind of looked at a lot of options, places where I knew people,” Hall said. “But from what I have [in Philadelphia], which is an enormous studio and a nice apartment, the amount of spending on it per month is practically nothing. I looked into moving to New York, and I could live for six months here for what I could live for one month there.”
During his time in Utah, Hall worked with several Salt Lake City stage arts groups as a graphic designer for Mills Publishing and has designed the season graphics for Salt Lake Acting Company since 2010.
Hall said while Philadelphia and Salt Lake City are vastly different in several ways, they are both great places for aspiring artists.
“I would say that there are a lot of artist-led groups in Salt Lake that really help artists out and have an interest in promoting strong work for local audiences,” Hall said.
“In Philadelphia, I’ve found a stronger source for studio spaces and efforts to make art a full-time livelihood through either studio practice or arts-related employment,” Hall said.
InLiquid is a nonprofit organization that essentially serves as a middleman for Philadelphia artists, creating opportunities and exposure while also serving as a free online public hub for arts information in the Philadelphia area.
Having displayed his portfolio through InLiquid before, Hall had a leg up on the competition when the organization went searching for a new graphic designer about a month ago. Instead of just being another name on the organization’s list of artists, Hall now also sits behind a desk in its office on American Street.
“Right when I moved to Philadelphia this past summer I actually joined InLiquid as a member,” Hall said. “And because they were familiar with me and were in need of a designer they called me. I’ve been doing a lot of work with the [InLiquid] website, a lot of postcards and a lot of design material for the events we have coming up.”
Hall had also become friendly with owner Rachel Zimmerman prior to landing the graphic designer gig.
“I guess I had a little bit of a longer relationship with [Zimmerman] because I have a friend that knew her from living in Philadelphia and they recommended I get in touch with her,” Hall said.
As an artist, Hall said he primarily works with book arts, using a lot of writing and drawing in the same space in his art work. In 2006, he received his bachelor’s degree in ceramics and expanded media from Alfred University in Alfred, New York. This past year he received his MFA in printmaking at Penn State University.
While working for his MFA, Hall taught two classes in State College as part of his assistantship – an introductory printmaking course in fall 2011 and spring 2012, and an introductory drawing course in fall 2012 and spring 2013. He is also the co-founder of Gray Wall Material, a small mentor-based program founded to support young and undiscovered artists.
“Teaching is something I have always enjoyed doing,” Hall said. “The [assistantship] program was very supportive of their grad-student teachers and helped me understand what to expect of myself and my students in a college environment. I would absolutely consider teaching again, but at this point I’m very happy existing outside of academia.”
Hall has displayed his art at roughly 20 shows, the most recent being his piece titled Novice Oculi, which he showed off at Crane Art’s Ice Box and Grey Space exhibition last July.
Perhaps the highlight of Hall’s young career came in October 2012 when his work was named Best in Show by juror Brook Seidlemann for his Homage: Past Influences piece at the Target Art Gallery in Arlington, Virginia.
“The show was a national open call for work about our influences in life and as artists,” Hall said. “I was lucky enough to have two works selected for the exhibit. To be honest, I was surprised when I won the prize. I really had no expectation of winning. It came at a really perfect time, as I was coming down to the wire on getting my MFA show together.”
As for his next show, Hall will be traveling even further than Salt Lake City, where he’s spent much of his life. He’ll be showcasing his art in California as part of a larger group show titled “85 Years, 85 Artists,” which is taking place at Menlo College.
With that said, Hall doesn’t plan on leaving Philadelphia for good anytime soon.
“I’m thrilled to be working in Philadelphia and have found it extremely welcoming,” Hall said.
– Text, images and video by Maxwell L. Reil and Tyler J. Sablich