Matt Stroud: ‘My guilty pleasures are horror movies: the good ones, the bad and the ugly ones’

Malta-based illustrator and animator Matt Stroud tells all in our Q&A

The Malta-based illustrator and animator started his career as a graphic designer but soon found a passion for visual storytelling. While his focus is on children’s books and short film animation, having won several awards for both, Matt Stroud’s artistic work has been used for film, theatre, advertising and education.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I generally start my day at around 5am and I very quietly make my way to my office so as not to wake two little monsters along my way.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Never do artistic work for free. It can be in-kind or as a favour in specific cases but in general, it shouldn’t be done for free as it devalues your work and the industry as a whole.

Also if someone asks you to do it for exposure, run in the other direction.

What do you never leave the house without?

Apart from the obvious items, I would have to say my sketchbook.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Introvert, daydreamer and optimistic.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Becoming a dad. There are others but I think that tops the list.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

My guilty pleasure has to be watching any and all horror movies; the good ones, the bad ones and the ugly ones.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Be thankful for what you have.

Properly and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

An education.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Nobody knows what they are doing and everybody is winging it.

Who’s your inspiration?

The list of artists, directors and writers could be endless but I do get a lot of inspiration from studios whose work is incredibly creative while still remaining true to the authors’ essence. Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Saloon and Studio Laika are certainly up there.

What has been your biggest challenge?

As a freelance designer I had to learn how to do my own taxes and it was a nightmare. Thankfully my wife is super awesome and works her magic.

If you weren’t an illustrator would would you be doing?

If I wasn’t a children’s book illustrator I would have probably liked to work in theatre as a stage manager.

Do you believe in god?

Short version of the answer is yes.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Charles Chaplin.

What’s our worst habit?

Not organising my desk... ever.

What are you like when you’re drink?


Who would you have play you in a film?

Charlie Day.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What music would you have played at your funeral?

‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ by Monty Python... maybe.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My house, I love our house and all the memories that it holds.

What is your earliest memory?

Playing at my grandparents’ house in Tarxien.

When did you last cry, and why?

For the first time in a while I recently heard ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ by ABBA and seeing as I now have two young daughters, I clearly can never listen to it again.

Who would you most like to meet?

Guillermo del Toro.

What’s your favourite food?

Pasta carbonara.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

I don’t follow social media enough to have a favourite.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

I would go to the Mesozoic Era to see what dinosaurs really looked like. Briefly of course as I doubt I’d survive long.

What book are you reading right now?

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Definitely has to be teleportation. I hate driving.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

I would love to travel much more. The teleportation would come in very handy!

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Florence + the Machine.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

Whatever annoyingly catchy song I heard on the radio that morning.