My Uniform: Artist Mary MatsonShare
LA-based Mary Matson claims to have always “been attracted to iconic things with a personal touch.” So, in other words, she speaks our language. As an OG Alex Mill contributor, Mary designed our logo, she developed the interiors of our first shop back in 2012 and today, we’ve joined forces again on a series of window stencils depicting New York at our New York store. Come check it out (63 Greene Street in case you’ve forgotten). We chatted about her career and how her approach to art and illustration isn’t that different from how she gets dressed—but we’ll let her explain.
ON WORKING WITH ALEX MILL
Alex [Drexler] and I had mutual friends who connected us and he had this idea of creating a company around the concept of a perfect shirt. It was not a fast process, it was a journey. We came up with the name—Alex Mill—and loved that it was gender neutral, incorporated our co-founder’s name. We liked this idea of an everyday military-ish label—the current tagline “Uniforms For Individuals” really speaks to this. It’s general but also invites you to put your personal touch on it.
ON BUILDING HER CAREER
My husband Matt and I have been together since we were 15 years old. We grew up outside of Washington, DC in a town called Rustin. I had great teachers throughout my life and was really into skateboarding and music and art. Museums were free in DC and we would seek out Pop Art artists, Gerard Malanga for instance was showing Warhol films that had never been screened. Matt and I were just always immersing ourselves in art. We experimented with photography—Polaroids were big at the time—and eventually we went to art school in Baltimore. I took a job in a kitchen to pay my bills. I got into graphic design while Matt got his MFA in painting from Yale. Meanwhile I became a pretty good pastry chef.
ON CAREER MOVES IN NYC
We moved to New York and I landed my first job in the advertising department at Polo Ralph Lauren. It was such a cool environment and I loved Polo, I just thought it was the greatest thing. Eventually I went to Kate Spade and there I met so many talented people. I really learned about aesthetics there.
ON PERSONAL STYLE
I was always a tomboy but also feminine. I like personalizing my own stuff. I never liked being told what to wear. I would say everything Alex Mill feels very “me”—I’d just add Southwestern jewelry, I got that from loving that aesthetic at Polo. I’m very attracted to color and I have a motto that you should always be on-brand, even if you’re just running to the coffee shop. For me that’s menswear. [The author] Fran Lebowitz, for instance, is fearless, I love her style. The world now is so asexual in the way people shop, I’m so happy the world has changed in that way. It’s true individuality. My art is totally related to the way I dress: Drawing from iconography but with a personal touch. I love archetypes. Lauren Hutton I also love. She wears a tuxedo and is amazing and feminine.
3 THINGS WITH MARY MATSON
3 professions you’d pursue if not for your current profession:
Pastry chef or doing something in the kitchen, archaeologist because I love history, race car driver (I’m a huge fan of Porsche).
3 things you never leave your home without:
Game (i.e. a good attitude and nothing off-brand), my partner Matt, my glasses
Your uniform in 3 pieces:
White jeans or khakis, pink or white oxford shirt, beads or a bracelet or something that personalizes my look
As told to AM on September 20, 2019
Mary was photographed at her studio in Venice, California by Katrina Dickson