Sunday, September 18, 2011

20 Questions with Matthew Mead

The cover of AUTUMN with Matthew Mead.
#3 in a series from his HOLIDAY publications.

In a world of style copy cats, DIY decorators and design stars, there is one original still left nestled in Boscawen, New Hampshire and his name is Matthew Mead. Locals should know that not since Daniel Webster have they had such an important man in their midst and be equally proud knowing Mead runs his entire style empire from this town of only 4,000 residents.

Matthew Mead

Mead is a lifestyle and entertaining expert known for his mark on the publishing world with numerous books including Entertaining Simple and Matthew Mead’s Halloween. He has been a frequent contributor to some of our favorite shelter magazines, notably our beloved and deeply missed Country Home as well as Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple, In Style, Victoria, and Country Living.

Mead's business, known as Matthew Mead Productions, Inc., is a full-service photo studio which produces all aspects of editorial and commercial photography. Mead (with wife Jenny and talented staff) create, style and shoot beautiful food, florals and seasonal crafts as well as colorful vignettes of objects, interiors, and entertaining; all of which are regularly featured on his website, blog, magazine and AP links. His personal website premiered in 2004 and is chocked full of images and ideas for us to use from pantry to patio.

Entertaining feature with Tricia Foley in the current issue of AUTUMN

• In 2009 Matthew was co-editor of the first issue of Flea Market Style magazine created in partnership with Ki Nassauer.
• In 2010, after leaving Flea Market Style he began his own, self-published and highly proclaimed HOLIDAY with Matthew Mead. A quarterly book-azine with Mead at the helm directing, shooting and styling all things that inspire him.
• In 2011, Mead produced two other issues and presented the success of HOLIDAY to Time Warner, Inc. who agrees to publish and distribute future issues.
• During the Summer of 2011 Associated Press signs Mead as their official food photographer.
• And in October of 2011, the Matthew Mead Collection will be introduced.

A new collection of homegoods offered by Mead premiers in October.

With the release of AUTUMN with Matthew Mead, I had to phone up my friend and ask him to take part in a special interview for the Curious Sofa blog. How he had the time to do this, I do not know but I am excited for you to learn a little more about this man. As you study all of his publications you can certainly see what he loves to look at, but lets see how he thinks.

20 Questions with Matthew Mead

DD: Matthew, thank you so much for doing this. I wanted our readers to learn more about you as it is so easy to hide behind the pages of your amazing magazine. Each and every issue is produced with exquisite taste, information and beautiful images.
MM: Thanks for asking me to be part of this post. I am honored to be on such a wonderfully inspiring and stylish design blog.

1. When did you know doing something creative had to be your destiny?
When I was a kid I had lots of time to grow my imagination; the four seasons, a giant forest behind my house, and lots of time on my hands. I also had a very creative grandmother who was instrumental in connecting me to creativity, so dreaming up projects and style ideas has always been a part of my life from my earliest recollections.

A vignette created by Matthew with antique blue transferware.

2. What medium in school opened your eyes?
I loved writing and that was a very important part of my high school years. I found art class a bit rigid and constrictive in its process as well as the teacher's ideas on a "right way" to do things. I really gravitated towards anything that gave me the ability to freely express myself without so many boundaries, so lots of creativity was really on my own time.

3. Many may not know but your new magazine is 100% self-published. There has been no Wall Street company in charge of content or distribution and especially no big funding. What was the biggest surprise you learned with self publishing?
Honestly, the distribution and the mailing process. I've never had
trouble creating content but I am constantly baffled by how confusing the mailing of such a piece can be. I work with a small, but excellent team of people and when I say the editorial process flows smoothly, that just doesn't even explain how organically, free flowing and wonderful it is.
DD: That alone has to be worth everything. To have something creative flow without a hitch, especially in the early stages like your magazine is, shows how well managed you make things.

A comfortable vignette created by Matthew.

4. Tell us how the Time-Warner deal happened?
Well, I have made so many great connections in the years of working in publishing and while I have enjoyed every aspect of self publishing I knew I couldn't reach as many readers as the channels of a mega publisher. I approached some contacts with our product and with our numbers in hand it just made sense for all of us. Now my team can focus on content and the publisher can focus on fulfillment. We have a great, solid product that has a wonderful strong readership and it makes really good sense to partner in that.

5. Besides your own, what magazine must you look at every month?
There a many... but I am mostly influenced by European and Australian magazines; VOGUE LIVING, MARIE CLAIRE IDEES, COUNTRY LIVING UK... are among my favorites and most influential. I enjoy the fresh and unexpected approach they seem to always master.
DD: This is so true. World of Interiors is also one of my favorites. The Europeans just know how to add style without fuss.

The images above are representative of Mead's clean styling.

6. How do you know what readers want?
I don't truly. I live what I love and what I know and let my imagination lead... that is my process. And of course, I am influenced by colors, seasons and traditions.

7. You went quietly but boldly into being 100% in charge of your own work. Was there a moment when you knew you had to do it your way and leave corporate publishing?
I have always wanted to lead and gravitate towards lots of corporate work that allows it, so that was a good foundation. I know what makes me happy, what I love and that there is a large following of folks along for the ride. I worked a great deal on the first incarnation of Flea Market Style and after that experience decided that if I could master all of that, I might as well be producing and directing something on my own terms, branded fully with my style.

The cover of Mead's ENTERTAINING book.

8. The Matthew Mead business is only going to grow. What is the key to managing your staff to see like you and know what you want?
My team is great and talented and they allow me to lead... that is a true delight. In return, I respect each of them greatly for their talents and contributions. I couldn't do it all without them and am honored to work side by side with their know-how and creativity. And luckily, readers see the things that we think really work. We have some crazy days when the paint color, craft projects and props just don't fit the bill.

9. Fill in the blank: "If readers could see my home they would be shocked by___.
The woodwork. We live in a 1920"s bungalow with honey colored woodwork in some of the rooms. Natural wood is a challenge for me and while I love paint, my wife has put her foot down on touching the original finish. I have grown to appreciate it- but it's not really my thing.
DD: That is so funny as I usually hear it is the husband that will not allow the wife to paint the wood! I always thought it was a man thing.

10. Your current favs:
Color? It is fall, so brown, orange, russet... but in all of the shades and hues you can imagine.
Food? Slow cooked, layered flavors... rustic but also updated... sweet and salty desserts, heirloom beets with goat cheese and greens.

Pepita Nut Brittle Ice Cream as seen in AUTUMN

Beverage? Autumn cocktails featured in the fall issue. Powerful but meant to be savored and anything citrus.

Herbal Libations as seen in AUTUMN

Object? Enamel ware coasters in engaging colors. Mid century furniture. I try to found something modern in everything... like the graphic patterns of this very early English transferware.

Gizmo? My 50 mm lens.
I love Tricia Foley and Thomas O'Brien because they both integrate modern and vintage so beautifully together.

Tricia Foley

Tricia Foley Interiors

Thomas O'Brien

Thomas O'Brien Interiors

11. In 5 years you hope:
To have grown my product line and continue with the magazine as a quarterly; self-published or with a publisher, either way.

12. What one designer or company has never disappointed?

Libeco Linens

Libeco Linens. I love their catalog and products and always look to them for high quality and great colors and inspiring visuals.
DD: You are right about this one. When I see their booth at market I just want to jump right in.

13. Where do you go when the well runs dry?
Shopping- flea markets, shops, anywhere where I can see new things, colors and new approaches.

14. If you weren't building your style empire, what would you be doing?
I probably would be an antiques dealer. This would keep me close to design without having to meet any deadlines.

15. What was the last inspirational thing that took your breath away?
This simple hand blown glass cup. Early American and delicate, wavy glass in just a whisper of form and material... very organic. Fragile, but beautiful.

16. Pick one: Junkin', Cooking, Shooting, Styling.
Shooting, because it gives me the ability to provide my perspective on all the other things you listed.

17. I know you to be Mister Calm, Cool and Collected; what was the last thing you had a complete meltdown over?
I was in a line at Border's book checking out after a very long day and well, my disgust with the slow service began to bubble over. I don't really have too much at work that does that to me. I have always found that living and working outside the box means you have to be super accommodating so I adopted that attitude a long time ago. I try to reserve my less cool moments for the mundane circumstances like bad drivers, long lines and maybe missed objects that I didn't grab at the flea market.

From Mead's HOLIDAY issue.

18. My work day is only made better by:
Emails from readers; people that appreciate what we do and are entertained by the experience of enjoying the pages of an old fashioned magazine. Many people reach out to me and that makes it all worthwhile.
DD: Can you believe you used the words "old fashioned magazine?!" Who knew it would come to this?

19. I wish my readers knew:
That I am open to all kinds of beauty. That I feel every object has something beautiful about it and I see it as my job to find that quality. The hallmark of my style is really mixing items from many periods... like this mid-century modern sugar bowl below with an early 19th century pitcher and a simple vase made by an artisan today.

20. You have always wanted to meet:
Dorothy Draper and Philippe Starck. A mix of traditional and modern... maybe set up like a Midnight in Paris scenario.

Dorothy Draper

Dorothy Draper Interior

Philippe Starck

Philippe Starck Interior

21. Just one more.... what do you doodle?

Oh my! When I saw Matthew's doodle I immediately wrote back and
said, "This should be a fabric line!" Can't you just see it!

DD: THANK YOU MY FRIEND! Much success and distribution in your future...

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