Instagram Featured Feed: Matt Crump

MATT CRUMP @mattcrump

Matt Crump used to be a senior art director at the advertising agency GSD&M. Now, he’s a full-time candy minimalist.

“I never wanted to be stuck inside a cube again.”

It all started when Matt took a simple photo with his iPhone. The image, a row of seagulls perched on a rooftop, stirred him to experiment with a few of his favorite apps. The result of his tinkering – a memory-searing image of white birds set against a bright green sky – marked the beginning of candy minimalism, a photographic style that makes use of simplicity, contrast, and a striking color palette of electric pastels.

GSD&M office in downtown Austin

GSD&M office in downtown Austin

With the help of Instagram, Matt grew the concept and aesthetic of candy minimalism into a subgenre of sorts with more than 43,000 followers.

“I unlocked this whole world of color and I just started experimenting with that,” he recalls.

The size of his following led Matt to wonder if there might be a career for him beyond the one he’d spent a decade building in advertising – a life dedicated to creating things for clients rather than for himself, and one of working within parameters set forth by others instead of those only limited by his imagination. Cubicle life began to pale in comparison to the candy-colored world he was creating in his free time – a world that was clearly bringing a lot of joy to those who stumbled upon it.

“There was no natural light around at all,” Matt says of his office days. “When I’m outside… that’s when I’m happiest…. (after a certain point) I never wanted to be stuck inside a cube again.”

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A cloud lifted, Matt says, when he finally quit his job and went out on his own. Commissioned projects soon began to appear, like one from Samsung, who came calling in advance of Coachella, asking Matt if they could send him to Indio to take photographs for them.

“I’m able to see things completely differently now. I’m able to focus on projects more intensely than when I was working,” he says.

As a result of his departure into self-directed art, he’s managed to carve out that sensation for himself in life that so many others crave: he finally feels free.

“Stress is the number one thing that interferes with people’s creativity.”

“I’m not stressed out (anymore), and being stress-free is very conducive to being creative,” Matt says. “Stress is the number one thing that interferes with people’s creativity.”

The stress that had built up over years of agency work led to an awakening and a subsequent shift in the direction of his career – one that some around him saw, at first, as abrupt. “People were asking if I was okay, if I was having some sort of breakdown,” he recalls, “and I said no, this is my passion now.” Once they realized the level of dedication he’d committed to his photography and the movement surrounding it, their perceptions changed: “They were actually happy for me,” he says.

About a year ago, Matt created the #candyminimal hashtag. Since then, he and a following of candy minimalists inspired by his work have posted over 13,000 photos to Instagram using the signature style. To keep his own work visible, Matt runs two accounts: @MattCrump, where he showcases his own work, and @CandyMinimal, where he features the best contributions by aspiring photographers who are expressing themselves in a similar fashion, taking a cue from his original work and tagging it with #candyminimal in the hopes that Matt will see it and share it with his followers.

“I feature those artists so everyone is in the know of the new candy minimalists on the block,” he says.

A flock of seagulls

A flock of seagulls

Sandy's Hamburgers

Sandy’s Hamburgers

Co-Star on South Congress

Co-Star on South Congress

A weeping willow in the 'purple rain'

A weeping willow in the ‘purple rain’

'purple mountain majesties'

‘purple mountain majesties’

The Jones Center at The Contemporary

The Jones Center at The Contemporary

Palmer Events Center

Palmer Events Center

Sway Restaurant on South 1st

Sway Restaurant on South 1st

Tent tints

Tent tints

Lone bird

Lone bird

Rainbow oak

Rainbow oak

IKEA in Round Rock

IKEA in Round Rock

Irvine to Indio

Irvine to Indio

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

Matt hosts challenges on the @CandyMinimal account, too, like a recent one for which he asked his followers to take photos of street signs or architecture.

Matt's first candy minimal photo

Matt’s first candy minimal photo

“There are a lot of different candy minimalists out there; it’s a totally open concept that I want everyone to try,” he explains. “It’s not just my thing even though I put a name to it. I want other people to experiment, too.”

True to genuine creative form, Matt places emphasis on using his talent — and the platform he’s created from it — to help others grow creatively as well. Empowering his fans by sharing his tips instead of keeping them for himself, he’s helping thousands of people find ways to get out of the cubicles in their own lives, both literal and metaphorical, and view the world through a fresh, not to mention colorful, lens.


Matt Crump (@mattcrump)

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Writing by: Brooke Blanton


This article originally published in The Balance Issue of Citygram Austin Magazine [May/June 2014].
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