Approaching Creative Problems: An Interview with Matthew Koscica
June 18, 2020
Amid the global pandemic, we’ve seen people across a number of industries pivot from their original plans and adapt to working remotely. Recently, we highlighted some of the ways folks in creative fields have continued to forge ahead despite the circumstances. And we have to say — we’re super inspired by the work that’s being put out into the world under these unique constraints!
To keep the inspiration and creativity flowing, we wanted to spotlight one of the freelancers who worked with us as part of the Wistia Creative Alliance. The WCA is a collaboration between the Wistia team and 30 freelance creatives that aim to bring more moments of delight to our shared community. Matthew Koscica was one of the creators who was part of the Noodle on Lenny series. Matthew is a multidisciplinary artist who ranges from a broad background of skills, and he created a super delightful video called “Lenny by Candlelight,” in which he makes a candle in honor of our beloved, bearded office doodle, Lenny.
Watch “Lenny on Candlelight” right here:
We sat down with Matthew (virtually) to find out more about his background, how he executed the Lenny project, his advice for other creatives, and much more. Let’s jump into the full interview, shall we?
Wistia: We’d love to hear a little bit about you and your background. What do you do and how did you get there?
Matthew: I was born in Hong Kong, and I grew up primarily in Arizona where I studied forestry and was able to do some scientific research for the US Forest Service. I helped with some ecological restoration efforts, which was super cool. From there, I started to get interested in fine art painting and started to become really passionate about that, and less passionate about forestry.
I devoted all of my time to painting and rented out a studio to dive deep into that. I was able to support myself through two galleries — one in Denver and one in the Bay Area. I also painted at music festivals along the West Coast, which was really exciting. After painting, I started doing tattoo work, which was really interesting because you can make such a huge impact on individuals. You’re transforming their bodies from the old version of themselves to their newly defined version of who they want to be. And moving on from that, I wanted to have a larger impact on more people.
Painting and tattooing are very individual-focused. I remember toward the end of my tattoo and painting phase, on my business cards I would put that I was a “Creative Solutionist” as my title because I wanted to find a way to help people through whatever sorts of problems they were going through. If they needed packaging, I could help them with packaging, or if they needed some prototype for their van build-out, I could help them do that, too, and design certain aspects of whatever concepts they were needing. Now, I’m going back to school for industrial design.
Wistia: When it came to the execution of the art you made for Noodle on Lenny, how did you land on a devotional candle? Did you have other ideas or did you know this was instantly what you wanted to do?
Matthew: I had a couple of different ideas. I approach things and new problems by ideating and trying to get out as many ideas as possible — as dumb as they might be. None of them might be the final thing, but doing so might help you get to the final solution. So I thought about all sorts of stuff like maybe I should design a new water bowl or carrier collar to carry messages across the office. Or a magic card that has Lenny on the card and I could do a magic trick to make the card appear.
Then I started to really think about Lenny’s role in the office and how he’s like this super-loved dog that everybody seems to care about, or at least, Wistia celebrates him greatly. I thought it would only be right to make a devotional candle to Lenny. I just thought it would be really fun and engaging for other people to watch who might not be so tied to Wistia or know Lenny.
Wistia: Did you go into filming the whole creation process with a plan for the different types of shots you wanted or did it just happen naturally?
Matthew: I think there was a little bit of both. I think that having larger pieces in mind of how I want them to feel or be executed was really helpful. And then you kind of fill in the gaps with intuition or spontaneity. Luckily, I’ve had some experience with photography and videography. I’m always trying to pick up new skills and that’s a really handy one. So it was fun to try out new techniques and have this as an opportunity to pick up new skills for video editing composition and storytelling. For example, thinking about ways to tell the story through specific cuts or time-lapses to speeding up something that might be boring for others to make it more engaging.
Wistia: Do you typically find yourself mixing technology and physical mediums?
Matthew: Oh yeah, absolutely. Again it’s like that culmination of skill gathering. I’m always trying to pick up new techniques and new creative processes that might feed into one another and create the best and fastest solution. I picked up hand lettering a year ago because that was pretty popular. I thought I’d give it a try, and I got commissioned for name tags at a wedding doing all of the table tags. So I got a ton of experience doing hand lettering and thought I’d throw that into the mix for the Lenny video. I like keeping things fresh by introducing different processes.
Wistia: How has the stay-at-home order impacted the way you work or how you get things done?
Matthew: There are so many things. Because I live in such a small apartment, my desk is like right here in the middle of everything. I’m a “workaholic” and “learnaholic” so I’m always trying to advance my skills, practice, and do new things, but I have a hard time trying to delineate that play and work time. It all kind of blends together. I’m trying to find ways to separate that like setting timers to go on walks.
I’m also collaborating a lot right now with some fellow colleagues through Zoom meetings, which are a huge part of this paradigm. I think a huge part of the success there is checking on my fellow collaborators to see how they’re doing — not only with the scope of the project but emotionally and physically. Because of this whole new format, I think there are strange formalities. There’s not enough time for us to have that in-between banter so I think making that time to really check in with the person to make sure they’re really doing okay as a human being will create a healthier and happier team and lead to a better end result.
Wistia: Have you felt pressure to be creating more than your normal amount of work or output?
Matthew: Yeah, certainly. There’s a lot of external pressures to create. I think it’s really important to recognize we’re going through a global pandemic, and it’s okay to be easy on yourself. I think first and foremost we need to keep ourselves happy and healthy to do good work. Whatever we can do to help create a healthier sense of well-being I think is key.
Any advice I might have for creatives right now would be if you do feel inspired to create something but you’re feeling pressured or not motivated, start small. Set aside 15 minutes or so to just bust out sketches of an idea and then leave it at that. Then the next day, try to do 15 more minutes and that might build. Get yourself up to some sort of momentum, and that might carry you to seeing the fruition of a project. This sort of paradigm shift that we’re going through right now has knocked a lot of us down and we’ve lost the momentum we’ve had prior. So trying to rebuild that momentum slowly is the key to being prolific again.
“This sort of paradigm shift that we’re going through right now has knocked a lot of us down and we’ve lost the momentum we’ve had prior. So trying to rebuild that momentum slowly is the key to being prolific again.”
Wistia: Where are you getting your inspiration these days for whatever you’re working on?
Matthew: Like I said, it’s really hard for me to separate the play from work so what’s been really helpful for me is to go on walks and just step away from my projects in whatever capacity. Whether or not that’s making a really amazing meal or putting creative energy into making the most delicious sourdough bread I can make. I think just taking a break to learn and get outside of your project will help. For example, when Einstein was stuck on a project, he would step aside and play the violin, and that switch in cognitive function or cognitive pattern helped break him out of his problem cycle. He would go back and feel refreshed and approach his problems in a brand new way. Thinking about that and how we might apply it to the little spaceships of our homes might be really helpful.
We loved Matthew’s advice for finding ways to get inspired during this time. If you haven’t already, give “Lenny by Candlelight” a watch on Noodle on Lenny, and check out more from Matthew on Instagram and his site. Be sure to dig into our other chats with freelancers from the WCA, and tell us about how you’re continuing to stay creative these days in the comments below!