Early in 2017, MAT came into being.
He coalesced into life as the result of a series of ideas within the Substance team, to create an art toy mascot figure. These ideas were passed across to a freelance artist, Damien Levaufre, who sculpted the figure of MAT, the Material Art Toy.
MAT was born.
And, though this was not a conventional birth, MAT was born as all babies are — buck naked.
Modesty required that we cover him up. The Meet MAT 3D Painting Contest was launched on April 27 2017. Artists were invited to paint and texture MAT as they saw fit. Dozens, and then hundreds, of artists began sending in entries. MAT was clothed in biker leathers, deep sea diving suits, hazmat equipment, medieval armor. He was transformed into wood, steel, glass, ice, wool, muscle, fruit. The sheer creativity and ingenuity of the Meet MAT artists was phenomenal.
The level of interest far surpassed our expectations; in the end, over 1200 artists sent in images, and we had to rework our entire plan for judging entries, and awarding prizes, in order to meet this level of interest.
Guillaume and Gabriel, in the flesh, with their books!
The contest concluded. Our Pro and Student contest winners, Gabriel D’Orazio and Guillaume Hecht, were chosen. Thirty other runners-up were selected besides. We were overjoyed with the results of the contest.
Really overjoyed. Sort of, ‘Let’s put this stuff in a book,’ overjoyed.
The decision to create an art book based around the Meet MAT contest was really the formal genesis of our book publishing activity. We’d already published one book, The PBR Guide, but in a very unofficial way — the first and second editions of that book bore no ISBN; we had no sales channel set up to make that book publicly available.
For Meet MAT: The Art Book of the 3D Painting Contest, it was time to get serious.
The Substance team recruited a dedicated publishing manager (he’s a really awesome guy, by all accounts; everybody says so… ), and he began the significant logistical challenge of creating the Meet MAT art book, and of setting up the necessary infrastructure to publish and sell books.
There were surprises along the way. So, yeah, it turns out that selling stuff online involves a ton of financial and administrative regulation and accountability. Who’d’ve thought? And, like, some companies aren’t really happy if you publish caricatures of the various superheroes or sci-fi characters that are part of their carefully branded intellectual property. I know, right? Weird. And, y’know, checking thousands of images for rendering artifacts, and making sure we have all those images at print resolution and stuff, takes pretty much forever. And didya know that shipping stuff from the other side of the planet and, like, getting it cleared by international customs, actually takes a bit of time? For real.
We got there. It took a little time — and we published two other books in the interim — but we got there. Today is the launch of Meet MAT: The Art Book of The 3D Painting Contest, featuring artwork we love from nearly 200 of the Meet MAT artists.
We’re really proud of this book. More than that, we’re super-proud of the talented, engaged, motivated and always inspiring Substance community who made this book possible. Thanks for that, you folks.
Our little guy MAT is two years old, now. Man, kids grow up fast, don’t they? Take a look at the book, to see some of the mind-blowing ways that our community chose to decorate the little fella.