Michael Matheson Is The Casual Type

Meet Michael Matheson aka @metalteepee. Michael is an incredible artist, graphic designer and sign painter whose vibrant works can be found all over our home town of Santa Barbara.

We caught up with Michael as he painted a mural for an up-and-coming coffee shop (wearing our Classic Sixty Six sneakers in Navy). See below for the full Q&A.


What does a typical day in the life for you look like?

A good day always starts with a morning walk down State Street with my wife Caitlin and our newborn babe and our bernedoodle Clementine - best way to start the day! We love running into people we know or striking up conversations with strangers along the way. Off to a cafe to start laying out some design and connecting with my clients. One of my favorite parts of working as a creative is touching base with my clients as projects develop, going over goals and revisions to create just the right look and feel to the work. On any given day, I might go from working on a painting, to creating a logo for a local business, to fabricating a custom sign. I create something for myself every day. It's important for me to work on my own personal artwork, whether it be on my Ipad, watercolor pad, woodblock, or just a good ol' Sharpie on paper.

How did you get started in the world of making art for a living?

I am so thankful to ArtCenter in Pasadena for setting me up with the skillset and drive to participate in a competitive art market. After I graduated, I worked for the artist Doug Aitkin in his studio. It set a standard for quality in the workspace and gave me an example of how a successful artist ran his art practice, both in terms of work ethic as well the economics of it. I started focusing on gallery work in Los Angeles and New York, but since then I've expanded into other creative endeavors, like branding and graphic design, sign painting, wood and metal fabrication... you name it.

Have you faced adversity in your life or career? What have you learned from that?

This word adversity is really what drew me to the concept of art. As a kid, I struggled through school with learning disabilities like dyslexia and ADHD and found myself getting into a lot of trouble. Art really grounded me and gave me a positive outlet and made me feel accomplished. It gave me my own personal identity and opened up positive pathways that led me to personal success.

What are some things that you are grateful for?

Like, everything! At the moment I feel fulfilled and totally immersed in our Santa Barbara community and the family that my wife Caitlin and I are creating.

We believe appearance is a form of expression, not validation. How do your SeaVees help you express your personal style?

When it comes to my work, I don't overthink it, I just go, and my style reflects that. SeaVees are classic and effortless and the perfect pairing for my get-up-and-go lifestyle.

One of our brand mottos is “Keep it Casual”. What does “Keep it Casual” mean to you in your own life?

Less is more. With my art and design, it's all about instinct. I just trust who I am and know that I'm creating the best possible product that I'm proud of.

How do you stay inspired?

Honestly, the act of making art in itself is a constant inspiration, and allowing myself to evolve and change keeps me driven.

Socks or no socks?

No socks! And if it weren't for SeaVees, it'd be no shoes.

Do you have any plans or projects that you are looking forward to in the future?

I'm currently working with the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum on upcoming exhibitions to create artistic dialog with the Santa Barbara community at large. I'm excited to get to work on a project with so many levels of visual enrichment, like branding, interactive design, community outreach/education, and fabrication.

What’s one piece of advice, encouragement, or challenge you’d love to leave our readers with?

Your harshest critic is always yourself. Don't allow yourself to discourage you from success and happiness.

Where can our readers find / follow you, and what would be the best way to support you / your business / project?

People will see my work all around Santa Barbara. I work a lot with the good people at Dune Coffee Roasters, Caje cafes, Revolver Pizza, Sama Sama, Acme restaurants, and other local businesses. Get to know me and my art at @metalteepee on Instagram. I love engaging and talking to people there. That's where most of my art sales and business opportunities are initiated.