After a break during the busy holidays, we’re bringing back Being a Creator Interview Series.
I am thrilled to share with you all my pal Matt Durbin. I met Matt through Instagram a while back, through the leather community there. You know that community that I’m always harping on? Well, Matt is doing some killer work and has a pretty interesting story on his start into the art of leather work.
Be sure to check at the end of the page for links and contact info for Matt and to check out his work!
Jesse: Can you introduce yourself. Where are you based out of, and tell us what your craft is?
Maker: My name is Matt Durbin. I’ve moved around a lot the past few years, but I’m currently based out of Leander, Texas. I do custom, hand tooled leatherwork.
Jesse: How long have you been making_______?
Matt: I apprenticed for a few years in college where I mainly helped out where I was needed but didn’t “make” much. I’ve been making on my own now for about a year.
Jesse: What got you interested in this craft?
Matt: To be totally honest, I really wanted a custom belt but I didn’t want to pay for it. I figured I was somewhat artistic so I decided I would take a crack at it. I tried watching a few Youtube videos, but I really wanted to find someone to teach me so I could learn the right way. I thought leatherwork could be something I could really get in to.
Jesse: How did you get your start?
Matt: I was really lucky that I found someone locally to show me the ropes. I found out that Clayton Kinney of CDK Leather lived in the same town as me at the time, and I messaged him asking if he had ever taught someone the craft before. For some reason he let me come hang around a bit and I was hooked. I fell in love with the craft the first day I was there. Clayton taught me more than I ever could have asked for.
Jesse: Are you a fulltime, part-time, or hobbyist maker?
Matt: After I graduated from Texas A&M, I decided I would make a go at this fulltime… I couldn’t bring myself to find a “real job” after working with leather throughout my whole college career
Jesse: Is there anyone you can think of that has been a mentor, inspiration, or has been a big influence on your work?
Matt: Clayton was a huge mentor for me like I mentioned before. He took me under his wing and taught me how to build things, tool, make patterns, the list is unending. We’re still really good friends and he still helps me out where I need it. A few months ago, I got connected with Slade Paradauex who owns a saddle shop that’s been in business for 135 years. Being in an old school saddle shop like that was really inspiring in its own. Slade has helped me a lot on the business side of things, and he’s also mentoring me through my saddle build which has been a dream of mine since I started doing leatherwork. I could go on forever about people that have mentored and inspired me throughout my time doing this, but I feel very blessed to have met some awesome people over the last few years.
Jesse: If you could go back to when you first started, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Matt: To spend a little time drawing floral patterns every day. Doesn’t have to be anything crazy but having a pencil in your hand everyday can make a huge difference.
Jesse: Continuing on the thread of advice, what would you tell someone who is wanting to take the leap into becoming a maker, or is just starting out?
Matt: Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in the community. Some people may blow you off, but others won’t and they’re the ones worth talking to anyway. The whole reason I got into this was based off an Instagram message I sent years ago and it has completely changed my life.
Jesse: Can you think of an aspect of your craft/business that you have/do struggle with?
Matt: I have a really bad habit of throwing all my business receipts in a coffee can rather than inputting them into the computer or something like that. Maybe 2019 will be the year of an accounting software…
Jesse: Besides what you make, do you have any other interests? (sports, gaming, gardening, or making other things)
Matt: Hunting has always been big for my family, and over the last few years I’ve gotten pretty serious about bow hunting. My grandparents have had ranches most of my life so helping out there has always been really important. We spend a lot of time out on the lake during the summer too.
Jesse: What are your thoughts on the Maker Movement that has been happening over the past few years or so? With increased numbers of people wanting to make things, it seems like a bit of a renaissance happening, with people becoming interested in what many see as dying crafts.
Matt: I love to see a growing interest, and people bringing new ideas and styles to the craft. That being said, nothing is more frustrating than seeing people copying others work. The online world is completely changing how people are learning these crafts. I learned the “old school” way, so I have a firm belief that people need to put in their time and do the grunt work to really be considered a maker.
Jesse: (Borrowing from another blog) Is there any new cultural/trending thing that you are interested in at the moment, not necessarily associated with your craft? Like a recently discovered book, movie, music, blog, podcast, restaurant, etc.?
Matt: I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m working, but my favorite has to be Mountain & Prairie. I started listening to those about a year ago, and there were some conversations with artists that really pushed me to want to do this full time rather than just a hobby.
Jesse: Finally, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer some of these questions and share with us what you do. If you have anything else you’d like to share, suggestions for future interview questions, or individuals that you recommend for this Interview Series, please let me know.
Matt: Thanks for having me be a part of this!
I really want to thank Matt for taking the time to share his story with me, an in turn with all of you. Y’all be sure to go give Matt a follow and check out his work.
Matt is someone who really understands the Community I talk about a lot. Something I have come to appreciate and respect. As a maker, community is a huge aspect. The Leather Maker community has helped me in more ways than one, so reach out if you want to learn something, or you have a question for another maker. Like Matt said earlier;
"Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in the community. Some people may blow you off, but others won’t and they’re the ones worth talking to anyway. The whole reason I got into this was based off an Instagram message I sent years ago and it has completely changed my life."
You never know if your question will change you life if you dont ask.
Finally, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below. If you have any suggestions for future Interview Series folks, let us know!
Don't forget to go give Matt a like & follow over on IG!
You can find Matt on Instagram @durbs_leather