Interview with Toronto Artist Matthew Del Degan, Creator of Lovebot
Interview with Matthew Del Degan by Mike Simpson, June 2018
The interview took place over email. All photos courtesy of Matthew except the title card image which is by Mike.
What’s your background? Did you go to art school or develop your practice on your own?
I studied Industrial Design in University at OCAD-U. My art practice and business, Lovebot, is developed on my own primarily with assistance from people I can trust.
Do you make a living from art or do you have a “real job?”
l do make a living from my art and it is a real job. It’s more than a job tho, it’s a philosophy and for some, a movement that empowers.
How did you conceive of the Lovebot project? Did it strike you at once or take time to evolve?
Lovebot took time to grow like anything of value that has been imbued with honesty and truth. There is a spark story however but it’s the coles notes version for easy digestion;
Are we just robots heading to work, faceless? Or do we all have a big heart and the ability to love one another?
I was on the street car heading to a first year university class in downtown Toronto wearing pajamas and at the time, I was laughing and joking boisterously with a man who I perceived or assumed to be homeless. Every time we stopped laughing or causing a ruckus I noticed that the streetcar was silent as it usual is. I thought to myself “are we just robots heading to work, faceless? or do we all have big hearts with the ability to love one another.” I went home that night and sculpted a 5in robot out of clay. This was the first Lovebot. At the time it was nameless and had no heart. I created rendition after rendition of this robot toy. It didn’t start out with one, but very early on I put a heart in it to represent hope and love because satire is cool and all but city goers the world over need love more than just something playful about darkness. The robot remained faceless to represent all of us commuting to work and ignoring one another but the heart, communicates hope. It’s also the focal point. The heart originally had four tabs on each face of the horizontal “L” shape because humans have four arteries of the heart. This changed to three because I like summitry and my dad had heart surgery so I thought it made it more personal. I never gave up on the ideas that inspired Lovebot and now my art / brand has done many philanthropic endeavors since it’s conception. I sleep well at night knowing I live with integrity and purpose. I leave a meaningful life because every day I cause or inspire more positivity in the world for others by leaving behind symbols and stories of love and kindness. Positive artwork can lift people up. Most of the things I make will last longer than I will and I take comfort in that. There’s no greater gift. Money? Yes, I can make money but money is just a tool. A lasting story that gives back long after you’re gone however is something worth living for.
How many different iterations of this art are out there? I’ve seen stickers, wall murals etc. I heard there are concrete figures?
Hundreds. I am not a one trick pony and the work is perpetual. I don’t want to sound to self righteous because being humble is crucial, but, I have no limitations. This fall, after my next art show I will be working on my next book for children and I have a dozen projects some short term and some long that are all different. My team is growing and although it’s a lot to manage at times, I’m looking forwards to it all.
Is Lovebot solely an art project or did you make any media or merchandise with the figure?
Please refer to Lovebot.com
What do you think of DIY vs seeking sponsorships?
Whatever works for you is what I think you should do.
What do you think of street artists selling their work in galleries?
Sell your art if you want to or are able to. I and Lovebot can never be a sellout because I hope to sell out of everything I make. Art and design is my passion. Sales grow my company and supports my family. My ego plays an ever diminishing roll in my life’s work and art.
What do you think of the battle between art and commercialism? (Yes this one is a bit abstract).
The world is in chaos because of human greed. Commercialism is a culprit to complement this. Look, I love making art. Packaging and products can inspire me a lot though too. Especially Japanese art and design. I guess what I want to say is that Art is so multifaceted. How you define “Art” determines one’s response to this question.
Music is art, Spoken word, Painting and dance, literature etc. To me good art communicates. What it communicate if up to the artist. Much of the “Art” these days is communicating to sell or entice you to spend the money you’ve collect. I’d like this repose to be thought provoking like good art.
What do you think about artistic appropriation? For example Banksy imitating Warhol or H&M using photographs with street art in them?
You are born into this world knowing nothing. You can only make and create with references to what’s around you. Don’t rip people off. However, anything arround you, from nature to other peoples art is all reference material for the mind and soul. Try to be unique but the line that makes something original or not is forever and increasingly being blurred. Trademarks and copyright laws help to distinguish ownership and originality but everything comes from somewhere at the end of the day. The more people and he more there is out there, the more confusingly similar things become.
What’s your current work about? How can we view it?
It’s about a legacy of love. It’s about hope. It’s about following your heart. Each piece communicates many things and adds to a history of like works. You’ll run into one of my pieces of art in Toronto eventually weather you like it or not. The plan is always to add more value and more interrelated works into the world so much so that the work is hard to miss. Quality is important, but quantity is crucial. Intention is everything. If you want to follow my work you can do so on Instagram (@lovebottherobot) or simply google just Lovebot or Matthew Del Degan.
What do you have planned for the future?
A family of my own, ever growing business(s), a life of integrity, an expansive body of work that stands the test of time, helping others who have lived traumas like myself, being in the service of others in general, making the art I see in my minds eye and that I have a deep desire to see come to life or be brought into reality, continuing to live a life of meaning and so on. Oh, and also swim in more lakes, rivers and oceans on sunny days. Ride dirtbikes. Be a good human and have fun.
Thank you for your time!
Thank you Mike. I have to run off to a meeting so please check spelling and grammar. I appreciate the interest and wish the best for you and your loved ones. I also wish the best for everyone who reads this.
Lovebot website: https://lovebot.com/
Matthew Del Degan on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/matthewdeldegan/