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Lifestyle Art

Maltese Artist's Latest Series Breathes New Life Into Figure Drawing

Matthew Attard Navarro is proof that free time is worth investing in

Matthew Attard Navarro moved to London in 2012 and now works for the Net A Porter Group with The Outnet. He's an art director by profession, but his latest work came to life in the free time he's managed to carve out for himself

"Malta has a wonderful way of shaping you to really rebel, and throughout my late teenage years I felt like I made up for my quiet behaviour as a child," Matthew tells Lovin Malta as we speak to him about his latest illustration series: A boy called. Having lived and worked in London for the past five years, we're curious to know how growing up in Malta impacted his art.

"I grew up in a home  that really encouraged creativity"

Matthew Attard Navarro, art director & artist

"It can be incredibly challenging but also equally motivating to have the urge to constantly create and make up for things that are lacking. I grew up in a home that really encouraged creativity, my grandfather enjoyed carpentery as a hobby and he made the most beautiful furniture out of wood, my parents encouraged my sisters and I to be very creative and we all ended up taking up illustration as a hobby, so I've been doing it as long as I can remember".

Attard Navarro definitely had his own impact on the Maltese pop-culture scene. In 2007, he founded Platinum Love, an art/culture journal with a core mission – "A Mediterranean Search For Beauty". It may well have been branded as an 'alternative' search for beauty. 

Attard Navarro's penchant for highlighting anti-mainstream fashion symbols came through poignantly in the entire thirty-six edition run. Platinum Love celebrated beauty with a particular ability to make gender seem secondary and fluid – not unlike Attard Navarro's own drawings.

"you have to believe that you do something for yourself in the end"

Matthew Attard Navarro, art director & artist
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"The drive to draw definitely came back in full force once I moved to London, illustrating portraits of individuals with great style and elegance," Attard Navarro tells us, describing his most recent series. 

"A boy called was actually something I took up on a whim – I was inspired by a very particular London boy who I had been approached by over something work related, but his face and his elegant manner led me to run with the project".

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Attard Navarro's works each tell a story which is less defined by narrative than it is by restrained emotionality. His ability to capture androgyny and self-awareness in his models is captivating – but certainly not what is customary of figural art in Malta. So does he experience any criticism for his work?

"All the time, to an extent. Social media is equally empowering as it is exposing, I get a lot of criticism due to my interest in many things, photography, design, illustration and art direction. But you equally have to believe that you do something for yourself in the end, and after all, if someone doesn't like what you do  – they can frankly swipe left".

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"I took the opportunity this January to extend my free time and pick up more side projects"

Matthew Attard Navarro, art director & artist

It is probably this resilient attitude that's brought Attard Navarro to where he is – working with a world-class brand, and having made an enviable career for himself in London's fashion industry. But he's now decided to slow down a bit, to focus more on his creative pursuits.

"Working in art direction with the Yoox Net A Porter group over the past few years has been a great pleasure – I get to work side by side with some really exciting photographers. It's really made me yearn to get back into photography, at least as a regular hobby". 

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Attard Navarro's skill both photography and illustration is undeniable, and with his new found free-time, we're looking forward to hopefully seeing more of his intriguing and sensual work. 

"I took the opportunity this January to extend my free time to pick up more of these side projects, photography and illustration along with other side hobbies that I'm exploring, after all life's too short..."

For more of Matthew Attard Navarro's photographic and illustrative work, visit his website here.

Do you know someone who's making waves with their own creations? Write to us about them on [email protected]!

READ NEXT: The Maltese: A Six-Year Long Photography Series

Written By

Ann Dingli

Ann Dingli writes mostly about art and design. She enjoys friendly debates and has accepted that she's a small person.