MxCx Interview#27 "Timothée Mathelin aka shift"

Timothée Mathelin aka shift.

Living in Lyon, France.
Specialized in electronic music cover artworks.
Works exhibited in London, Berlin, Paris, Marseille, Strasbourg, Nantes, Rennes…

Thematics of the future and nomadism are what inspire Timothée Mathelin the most. His travel photographs are the basis for his digital creations.
Timothée has worked with more than 30 music labels and created over than a hundred visuals for various music supports (digipak, vinyl, digicase, digital, etc).

September 2013 is the release month of “Transhumance”, an artbook summarizing four years of personal and commissioned graphic works and travel photographs of the artist.

May 2015 is the release month of “Yume Yume”, a travel book of a 4 months trip in Japan: Photographs, dreams made at night and illustrations.

Order at

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Where are you from? Where are you based now?

Lyon, France, it's been 6 years, and pretty sure to stay around for a bit.

What was the environment you grew up? What kind of culture was there in your local area?

I spent my childhood in the countryside, far away from towns, grew up with cows, chickens and running in the fields, closest neighborhood at miles away.
Then, I lived in cities and felt like a small child in a comic strip discovering a brand new world.


How did you first get interested in Art, Design, Illustration?

I'm not sure but certainly beautiful mangas of my early chilhood like Ghost In the Shell leaded me to appreciate static and moving images.

France is a very artistic country.There are great writers in France.
Please tell me the French artists you influenced.

For cinema : I like recent directors like Jan Kounen or Gaspard Noé who are very into psychedelic /extra-body experiences influenced and experienced, so their cinema is very original.
For painting : i like old Renaissance paintings that are very colorful but dark too and crazy detailed. Many French artists did incredible pieces at that time.
I also read comic strips but almost no book, so I have a poor knowledge of good french writers.

You work with many music writers.
Have you done music activities such as DJ or band?

Nope, unfortunately, never found the time to learn, but may be one day being part of an harmonica quatuor ?

Why did you become a graphic design artist? How did you choose this path?

I was studying trade and business in England and at that time, I understood that i didn't like what I was learning, I was not going to school anymore, my housemate was studying graphic design so I learnt with him and by myself. Also i was in a country where I could easily see Chris Clark, Squarepusher, µ-Ziq (...) playing live so it was a whole year of discovery and influence!


How was your style made?
How was your mechanical and mysterious art image born? Do you put your thought or message in your own work?

As said above, the old IDM / electronica stuff from Warp Records was a strong influence, also some olf sci fi movies like Blade Runner, Stalker, Brazil etc, and mangas too.
There is a strong imagery in all of these names quoted. All of these musics of films talk about machines, A.I, new cities, new civilizations, environment issues, the future of humanity, new way of transports etc, so it built something inside of me, influences from my childhood was definitely leading me to a style.

Upgrade Audio - Various Cover Artworks. Digital
Riddim Collision Festival #15 - Official Visual
The Northern Lights Symphony Orchestra - Promotional Artwork

What is your first work? Was it a music work?

I'm not sure anymore. My first artwork was a burger drawn on illustrator, my first commissioned work was probably for a local music event.

Please tell me the process of making Graphic Design.
What kind of equipment do you use?

Photoshop, a graphic tablet, tons of photographs I took and keep on my hard drive, going around on the Internet to get influences and sometimes just having an idea of an image in my head and try to make it like i was dreaming of it but it never looks like what I imagined in my head.
I have a list of concept ideas i would like to draw, sometimes it work, sometimes not !


When making Artwork, are there requests from artists every time?
Or, do you make works with your own image?

I ask as much as I can some freedom because the result is the best that way. From my experience, when an artist gives me the album to listen to , i have a listen and I do a cover design that he/ she has no idea and if often works very well. Sometimes artists have clear ideas of what they want but it's not often working so well, as mentioned above : it's hard to do something we have in our mind, so in somebody else's mind is even harder. Most of the time, people let me do what I want.

You are visiting many countries. Why did you start journey?

It's great to go outside France and come back ! I have make a little break in travels but I which to go again visiting some places.

Where was the most impact in the country you visited?
What is the unique experience you experienced on a journey?

Japan was for sure the strongest experience i had because I went there 3 times, and i lived several months with a monk at doing agriculture in the mountains of Kyoto. It was a very strong  experience, not tourism.
I really enjoyed traveling through west USA but it was something different, it was a road trip.
My experience with Japan was much more related to people since i really lived with them.


Physical release is decreasing in recent years.
Are you satisfied even with artwork with only data? What is different between physical and data?

Yes, I'm also happy with digital release. It's much more easy to do. Smaller files, no restrictions, no templates or so... But receiving a physical object that you can play on another physical object (especially for vinyl) gives you another pleasure. It gives more depth to the release. It's sad to see that the music is probably more appreciated or listened to when it's made around an object, that it becomes physical. But it feels like a more real consecration of your work I guess.

GORE TECH - 地球から高層ビル群 - From The Earth To The Skyscrapers -

What was the most happy thing you got from this job?

Freedom and Playing around for hours is cool.
Sometimes not when you have no job but if you have, it's cool !

Northcape - Glasshouse. Eco Wallet, Sun Sea Sky Productions
Stazma The Jungle Christ - Acid Bleed. Digital, Acroplane Rec.
Les Intergalactiques - Sci-Fi festival - Poster Artwork

What are your future goals?

I have now another job that takes me most of my time. I have a collaborative project: running a bar-restaurant in my city, so graphic design is aside but I keep on working with musicians and i still make personal artworks but less on a regular basis. My goals are around my new project but i also want to travel again for a long time.