Sunday, June 6, 2010

Flint Portraits: Matt DeFrain

"News Stand" by Matt DeFrain

Artist and Designer Matt DeFrain grew up on Brownell across from Bassett Park in Flint. He's now the associate creative director for Grant Design Collaborative in Canton, Georgia. Matt was once hired by the city of Flint to spray paint murals in downtown, and his list of clients now includes everyone from Adobe Systems to the Motorola Cycling Team.

He also creates sculpture from found objects at his studio in a 1950s service station in Marietta, Georgia. Here's how he describes his creative process:

I always lost things that were important to me as a kid. My grandmother suggested praying to St. Anthony to find them. My mother advised that I empty my pockets before tossing them into the dirty laundry. And my friends reminded me to lock things up. Many years later I am proud to say that I've finally turned things around. I now spend much of my spare time finding things. Some of them valuable, but most not. Much of what I find has been well used in its previous life. Aged by the force of the human hand to function in some utilitarian way. I use these found items as a palette for representing visual metaphors. Combined together, these elements become unique one-of-a-kind sculptures which describe important events or times in my life. Both good and bad, with a little wit mixed in. I humbly dedicate these thoughtful conglomerations to all of the time spent looking for that which I've lost.

Eco/Mix poster designed by Matt DeFrain and Cassie Hester of the Grant Design Collaborative.

"Best Foot Forward II" by Matt DeFrain

Matt DeFrain (the tall guy in back) and the Flint Academy golf team in the early eighties.


  1. Wow, a blast from the neighborhood past, for a rust belt town, the Haskell/Bassett Park area has produced some pretty creative souls. We have Emmy winners, Artists, Musicians, Politicians, Journalists, etc. Would it have happened if there were still thousands of auto jobs? maybe not.

  2. WOW, I think I knew his brother Kevin... SO nice to see an Academy pic (pre-Southwestern).

  3. Ha! Awesome to see a back in the day photo of Matt!


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at