Where in the world is Matthew D. Wilson?

A couple nights ago I had the great opportunity to drop in and say hi to my old friend Tony DiTerlizzi* during his whiz-bang, breakneck A Hero for Wondla book tour. While there, I had the great fortune of running into another friend I hadn’t seen in several years, the fantastically talented Therese Nielsen**. I realized after a few moments that she didn’t know that I didn’t live in the North West anymore. And how could she? I hadn’t really told anyone.

Fifteen years ago I moved from southern California to Seattle to work for Wizards of the Coast as the art director for MAGIC: THE GATHERING. A few years later, I founded Privateer Press with two other partners and spent the next decade primarily focused on creating great gaming products and growing the company. As the company became a stable, self-sufficient entity, I found myself with a little spare time so I filled that time by returning to writing and exploring one of my great passions, filmmaking.

My very first ever Magic: the Gathering painting

In 2010, I completed my first short film, WOLFSBANE. We also optioned MONSTERPOCLAYPSE to Dreamworks that year, so doors started opening and I started spending a lot of time back in Los Angeles. By the end of that year, I was commuting at least twice a month from Seattle to LA, and my wife Sherry (who also runs Privateer) delivered our first child, Gryffin.

Suddenly, we had a lot of reasons to relocate, not the least of which were two Grandmothers who would be essential in maintaining our sanity as Sherry and I plunged into the very frightening, alien realm of parenthood.

In March of 2011, we entrusted the stewardship of the company to our very excellent management team and the talented staff of Privateer, then packed the baby, two dogs and two cats into a pair of trucks and headed for California.

Both Sherry and I are still intricately involved with Privateer as much as we ever have been, but we operate remotely through the magic of email and Skype. Every couple months, I bounce back to Privateer for marathon meeting days and some heavy development work.  In many ways, I think I’m even more involved with Privateer now because I’ve managed to cut down on a lot of travel time, and with the frequent video calls, I often forget I’m not actually present in the office.

About six months after our great migration south, I realized that more than ever, I wanted to find a way to merge these two disparate worlds I was occupying. I had thought that game designer Matt and filmmaker Matt were two different identities that had to be managed separately (apologies for breaking my promise about referring to myself in the third person, it’s such a filthy habit). But what I found myself doing more and more was trying to find a way to make these two paths intersect. With the MONSTERPOCALYPSE option things were already heading in that direction, but being in tune with my control-freakiness, I quickly realized I wanted more. I wanted to control both sides, the horizontal and the vertical, and realize the things in my head in the two mediums I was most passionate about: games and film.

On the set of WELCOME TO LEVEL 7

Cosmic forces willing, I’m within a few weeks of completing my second short film, [WELCOME TO] LEVEL 7***. This will be my first attempt in the grand experiment to see if I can pull off this intersection of disciplines and worlds. Hopefully it’s a well met intersection, and not an apocalyptic collision, but no matter what, it’s been an amazing ride getting to this point and I’m as excited to unveil the film project as I am to release the upcoming LEVEL 7 [ESCAPE] board game that the amazing design team at Privateer has worked so hard to bring to life. It’s going to be one hell of a summer.

So where am I now? Still in LA, bouncing back and forth to Seattle, and up to my ears in my next attempt to create a fantastic intersection between these two mediums I love so much.

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* If you don’t know Tony DiTerlizzi, then either a) you aren’t a gamer or b) you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty years. The dude defined a generation of Dungeons & Dragons art with his artwork for PLANESCAPE and now he’s inspiring a new generation of kids with his incredible picture books and novels. Hit the link to check out his blog.

** Therese Nielsen is one of the most famous and incredible MAGIC: THE GATHERING artists that ever lived. If you don’t know her art, do yourself a favor and check it out!

*** Totally slipped my own little world-wide announcement into this post. Boo-yah! Stay on your toes, folks, there’s more to come!

11 thoughts on “Where in the world is Matthew D. Wilson?

  1. I’m really glad to see this blog and will be checking it during my normal blog-circle now.

    I have a question for you. I work in IT and have for almost ten years (being able to type this I find kind of scary as I move towards the 30 year mark). During this time I have seen the entire gambit of the telecommuting stance. I’m in the process of trying to convince my employer to let me work from home once a week to assist with things like gas consumption. I imagine for an Artist it is easier (except for getting your art prints to the employer, but I could be wrong).

    Have you run into any singular challenges doing this? Or assuming there is secret stuff you would rather not share, is your unique role more or less conducive to your telecommuting?

    • Hi Kyle,

      For artists, it’s incredibly easy these days as most art is done digitally, so you never need to leave the house or even put on pants if you’re an illustrator.

      For myself, I’ve gotten past most of the challenges of not being face to face with people every day. I wish Skype worked a little better, but we muddle through that. Even when I was present in the office, most of my communication with people was through email because I’m involved in so many different tasks through the day. Adapting to working remotely hasn’t been too hard. Actually, it’s probably harder for the folks in the office since they have to be a little more diligent about how they communicate with me.

      There’s a big difference, though, between being the owner and working from home and being an employee. This really comes down to the trust and relationship you have with your employer. The single biggest challenge anyone will face when they start working from home is not getting distracted. In my early working-from-home days, it was very hard not to get distracted by my Xbox, household chores, the dog — whatever. That can make it hard for any employer to justify allowing work-from-home status. There is also the issue of insurance. In a lot of cases, it’s just illegal. But usually the insurance an employer caries will not extend to someone working at home and this can cause issues. Since I am the company owner, I actually can’t file a workman’s comp claim, so this isn’t a problem. But it does present an issue for employees, so we generally try to avoid it.

  2. I’m looking forward to seeing your Level 7 film! Of course you know that every time you say the “M” word, us rabid Monpoc fans have heart palpatations. 🙂

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