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Cory Mathis – Illustrated Success

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“It’s been so exciting for me to win this although the biggest reward has been the confidence I have gained from winning.”

The Learning Connexion is very pleased to express their congratulations to Cory Mathis – winner of the New Zealand Young Cartoonist of the Year Award 2013, via the Listener magazine.

Originally from Waihi, 28 year old Cory has been drawing since he was a youngster, mostly illustrating dinosaurs and monsters. When Cory left high school he wanted to do more with his passion to draw. “I was working in retail, trying to fit my art in during that. I decided what I really wanted to do was to take a year off and go somewhere where I could consolidate all of those skills.” So Cory enrolled with Wellington art school The Learning Connexion and has been going from strength to strength ever since.

Cory liked The Learning Connexion’s learning flexibility, and the idea of building his own curriculum. He has also been enjoying the exposure to fellow artists, experienced tutors and resources on-site.

“I’ve always been a fan of life drawing, so I’m really happy I get to do that at The Learning Connexion. I am also learning about all the classical media and techniques. It’s been really cool because I’ve been able to take on contemporary media like digital painting on tablets and computers – I’m taking full advantage of that here.”

The NZ Young Cartoonist award
Cory first heard about the competition for the Listener’s NZ Young Cartoonist Award in his illustration class at The Learning Connexion. Illustration tutor Iain Watt was enthusiastic for him to enter, so he went for it. “It was different to anything I’ve ever worked on before. It was really about getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new.” Having a robust and relevant idea, with a witty angle was a stimulating new challenge for Cory.

The up and coming young illustrator is constantly on the lookout to take on a work like brief, which is one advantage of a competition such as the Listener’s. “A lot of incentives are open to students, with a prize. It was exciting to work on something relevant.”

Cory went up to Auckland for the competition and was announced as a finalist along with three others. The criteria was to enter three different pieces of art work. Eventually it was revealed that Cory was the winner, and he was ecstatic.

Cory Mathis

The winning piece
Over 100 John Key caricatures were done before coming up with the satirical winning piece of John Key climbing atop the Sky City Tower like King Kong. There were many processes to the pieces. “There are lots of variations to try. You need to try as many as you can. Having tutors to bounce things off was absolutely invaluable. I had Iain there to help me along the way. He really gave me the confidence to try different media and styles, which I think gave me the point of difference.”

Cory is planning to re-invest the prize money into his illustration career. He hopes to visit Italy next year to attend a classical art school for a few months. He is also looking forward to learning European painting techniques. In the meantime he is still pursuing his passion for the primeval and is cultivating a series of comic books that have dinosaurs as a theme.