Illustrator Matthew Shipley is a master when it comes to expressing movement through his work. We talk to the North Carolina based, pencil-wielding magician, about his work and the multiple European teams he follows from the US.

From clients such as the Two Point One, MLS and creating a children's book, ('G is for Golazo) it's fair to say Mr Shipley has very much established himself as an artist in demand.

We at Cult Kits, have long since admired Matthew's style and approach to illustrating our beloved game. So we thought it was about time we caught up with the man and find out what inspires him and what he has lined up for the future.

CK: First things, first and we ask everyone this...who do you support?

MS: Well,...I started playing football when I was about 5, but the options were pretty slim when it came to watching so I didn't really start following European club football closely until my family got an XBOX and I started playing FIFA.

That was probably Christmas 2005 and Ronaldinho quickly became my favourite player and FC Barcelona became my team. Not a bad time to become a Barca fan.

I have a Messi jersey from back when he wore 19 that I'm quite proud of, but at that point I started watching as much as I could, which still wasn't much because we didn't get any channels that had games. Luckily I was able to catch a few Champions League games including the final between Barca and Arsenal.

That's when I started supporting Arsenal in addition to Barca. Not a great time to become an Arsenal fan though. I quickly realised having a team in each league would make things more fun and as watching football has become easier and easier here it has been more fun that way. I also follow Dortmund in Germany and while I don't watch as much Serie A, I have ancestors from a small island off the cost of Naples, so I like to keep track of Napoli.

This probably sounds like blasphemy to a lot of people who will read this, but I think it's pretty common for fans here. I was absolutely devastated about the Champions League Semi-Finals this year, a rough week for me sports wise that week(other than Arsenal) as my NBA team lost a heartbreaker too.




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CK: So how long have you been illustrating for?

MS: I started drawing before I started playing football. My mom likes to tell a story about how I drew all over the bathroom walls when I was young and the only reason my parents knew it was me and not my brothers was because I signed my name. I majored in illustration at university and after a short stint working at I decided to try my hand at freelance illustration. Things started to take off in 2017 and have been going alright since! 




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CK: Can you tell us where you get a lot of your inspiration from?

MS: I get inspired by a lot of things, but when I find a really good reference image with a lot of movement I just got to draw my take on it. I also get inspired by different colour palettes, other illustrations, cool stories, making sure I can take care of my family. Lots of things! 

CK: Why do you love illustrating footballers?

MS: Those reference images I referred to with all that movement are part of the reason I love illustrating footballers. I also think sometimes artists have a hard time figuring out what to draw and my solution is to just draw what I like, which is sports related stuff, especially footballers. It doesn't hurt that the poses are interesting and dynamic and so are a lot of the individuals.



CK: What is your favourite illustration to date?

MS: An impossible question! I recently got an IpadPro and have really enjoyed how my work has evolved because of it. This includes the last couple match day images I did for Chelsea FC, the recent illustrations of Toni Duggan for Goal and the individual footballer illustrations I've been posting lately (really happy with the Xavi one and have a Garrincha one too).



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I'm also really proud of all the work in G is for Golazo, an ABC football book about footballers past and present, that just came out and I hope you all check out. Good for adults and kids. Especially good for adults who want their kids to get interested in football. My son is almost 2 and he loves going through it and pointing at the ball on each page. 

CK: What illustration has had the biggest reaction across social media etc?

MS: I've had a couple of illustrations that Ronaldinho has reposted. Quite a thrill having my favourite footballer post my work. More recently I had a Johan Cruyff illustration do pretty well. I think there's a love hate relationship for artists when it comes to social media. My favourite work doesn't always get the most likes, but social media has been incredible for getting me work.




Shop ALL MLS clubs here.


CK: Can you tell us what your next project is?

MS: I'm currently working on a project for MLS. Not sure what I can say about it so I'll not say anything more. It'll be out next month and I'm very excited about it.

CK: What would be a dream project for you?

MS: A dream project would be doing a children's book about the life of Lionel Messi. I'd love to write it too. So any interested publishers out there should get in touch.


You can view more of Matthew's work here.


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