The work of Matt Hines


In an attempt to “convey everything that is wonderful/horrible about life and the human condition,” Matt Hines presents a repertoire of blatantly raw mixed media and fine sketch art. Not drawn to any specific medium, his technique is generally ordered by his “minuscule studio space.” 

As he spent the first twenty years of his life as a “closeted observer,” Hines now describes his brutally honest approach as a bit disconcerting at times. 

“I’ve been creating art since I could hold a pencil,” Hines told 429Mag. 

“Growing up a gay mute observer of life in the Midwest, art became a means of expressing my internal dialogue and desires.” 

Though he has been shown in a number of places – from prominent galleries to hipster bars – Hines said that he used to obsess over exposure and sales. But, through spiritual growth, he has learned to simply appreciate the creative habit rather than burden himself with the direction of his career.

“Living a life that creates light in the life of others, and leaves the world better than when you entered it [is what’s important],” Hines explained.

Through his work, he aspires to leave viewers “feeling a little less lonely” or at least force them to think. His audience: “Anyone with eyes and half a heart.”

Accordingly, he strives to construct with the purest intentions. He has discovered that with complete freedom, his work is more inspired. 

As an artist who has experienced both being able to support himself entirely through his work, and living with “security blanket” jobs including being a window dresser and bartender, he tells aspiring artists, “As trite as it sounds, listen to your inner voice. You ultimately know the merit in your own work.”

He hopes to put his work in front of as many people as possible.

“I have no qualms about my art being on a gallery wall or on someone’s back as long as it’s out there opening their perceptions and resonating with their souls. Art that can simultaneously be perceived as ‘high’ and ‘low’ brow is dangerous.”

Hines will be showing a new series of work and debuting a new t-shirt line in December. The event will be at Local Take, a new artist-made goods boutique and gallery in the heart of the Castro in San Francisco. 

With continuous involvement in the LGBT community, Hines has provided works to movements such as the 35th Anniversary of the Castro Street Fair that was founded by Harvey Milk and participated in his second AIDS Lifecycle this year. 

Hines explained that to make a difference, one must “live every moment in life with full awareness of its effects. Even the simplest gesture of smiling to a stranger on the subway has to the potential to change the world.”

The last thing he learned: “Seeking acceptance is ultimately the most dangerous drug out there.”




“Each piece is ultimately an exorcism of flawed parts of myself.  A huge sense of relief overcomes me when I complete a piece. That relief is tenfold whenever I sell a piece.”

Mombi from the Art Prostitutes Collection: “This piece was a means for me to understand my seroconversion. I used the image of the Wicked Witch from Oz as an allegory for my experience. My process involves painstakingly rendering everything in graphite, then fleshing out detail with ink, filling in passages of color with acrylic, and finally collaging in elements to build a sculptural effect, and to bring elements from “real” life into my self constructed world. Most of the collage elements I use are often discarded items(bus transfers, empty drug baggies, match books) I find while walking the streets of my beloved San Francisco. The Art Prostitutes Collection were designs for a t-shirt line for My Trick Pony ( 

Coroner: “Strange fact, my great uncle was Meinhardt Raabe, the Munchkin Coroner in the “Wizard Of Oz.” I often sneak “Oz” imagery into my pieces due to this anomaly. The message ‘You Are Dying’ is meant to invoke an appreciation for life.”

Untitled, 2003, Acrylic on Wood: “This piece was created as a homage to one of my closest friends. Continually through our misguided youth we attempted to be ‘heroes,’ but more often than not we were perceived as ‘villains.’” 

Unusual Suspects: “He/She is a trans superhero/villian. The character represents male/female energy and the potential for good/evil within all of us.”

Earth 0 through X: “This piece is a self-portrait of all the different versions of myself from alternate parallel universes. I’ve interspersed famous figures from art history and literature such as Romulus/Remus, and Miss Havisham.” (New work)

Witch, What, Whore: “This piece is based off my favorite book from childhood ‘I Wish I had Duck FEET,’ by Dr. Suess. The protagonist wishes for various animal appendages and attributes in order to do good deeds for the citizens of his town, despite his best efforts they place him in a zoo and deem him a freak.”

Lindsay Lohan: “A cautionary tale, the ostrich is wearing designer shoes, an alcohol monitoring bracelet, and charm necklace with half a heart. She is oblivious to the fact her tail is on fire.” 

Falconer: “In addition to the Oz tales, I often incorporate imagery from comic books and classical Greek mythology. This is my depiction of a Harpy.”

Grinder: “Another piece from when i was reconciling with my HIV status. The hazmat suit was intended to protect the outside world from myself and the flying monkey was used as a spirit guide and thinly veiled Oz reference.”

Troy: “Troy was a failed attempt to resurrect a romance with another artist that was ultimately a ‘dead horse.’”

Pinocchio: “Pinoccio is a BDSM take on the classic tale. Pinocchio is depicted as already having been half transformed to a donkey wearing a leather hood and hearing aid for his deaf ears. Instead of Jiminy Cricket, I have Johnny Cockroach holding the key to the boy’s fate.”

Mark Jacob’s Dress: “The message here is that a monster in a designer dress is still a monster. Beauty begins within.”

Tenderloin Hustler Hotel Promo Poster: “This was a commission for an ‘off,off, Broadway’ show that was written & directed by friends of mine. The SF Chronicle used the image for the front page of their Datebook section and edited out the candy cane that’s shoved up the imp’s butt, but they missed the pigeon with the crack pipe in the foreground.”

Issie: “This portrait is of the irreproachable Isabella Blow one of my all time “real” life heroes and muse.”

About The Author

Writer. Photographer. World traveler. Fashion/art/music/food enthusiast. Lover of all things deviant and novel.

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