The sometimes NSFW creations of Matthew Monthei have been seriously cracking me up for some time now. Anyone who cross stitches and then uses their crotch as a backdrop is pretty awesome in my book.
Matthew is a regular contributor to the Subversive Cross Stitch Flickr group, which is where I first saw his work. He’s also got a new Etsy shop, and other spots on the web, which I’ll link to below.
I like his self-description on his About Me page: “General shenanigans involving (more often than not) some form of behavior inappropriate for a man of my age and demeanor. Because I’m still 12. And drunk.” I’m not sure how else to introduce him, but he’s got some ‘splainin to do!
Julie Jackson: I think what sets your work apart is how you photograph it, quite frequently in front of your crotch. Why don’t we just start with that? How did that transpire?
Matthew Monthei: Ha! That started with the “Touch My Junk” piece with the little arrows pointing down. It wouldn’t have quite delivered the same message had it been hung above the garbage can or something – that would’ve just been a little too precious. It wasn’t really thought out at all, just spur of the moment so I could post it on Flickr and Tumblr and hopefully someone would find it funny. Luckily quite a few people did. Combine the nature of many of my pieces with the fact that I have no shame and, well, that’s what you get. Its one thing to take a photo of a cross stitch in a frame, but I think it’s amusing to up the ante by extending the theme to the presentation.
JJ: That’s why I love you! Now, please introduce yourself for those not in the know.
MM: I’m nearly 36, 5’9″, beardy and single. I grew up the son of a preacher man in several small towns in Iowa. I have a pretty useless degree in theatre with a concentration in playwriting, though I did spend eight years working in live theatre management in Chicago before moving out to DC for a complete change of scene. Now I work for an international television news bureau. DC actually has a pretty great craft scene, namely due to the wildly popular Crafty Bastards Arts & Crafts Fair and the Silver Spring Handmade Mart. I’m also a massive fan of independent music and run a blog called The Sound and The Furry, which focuses on indie music and the beardy boys who make it.
JJ: And how long have you been stitching?
MM: I’ve only been stitching since the very end of 2009. After several frustrating years of attempting to knit something not square, my older sister suggested cross stitch and gave me some Aida and floss for Christmas. I pretty much taught myself, with the exception of a handful of You Tube videos and a whole heck of a bunch of text message advice from my good friend and fellow stitcher, Flamgirlant – she makes these power animal cross stitch patterns that are just amazing.
JJ: Oh yeah, I love her work! Besides her, who/what are your biggest inspirations?
MM: I’ve been a big fan of the whole stitching revivalist crowd for a while now. I love seeing how a classic, homey art has been re-imagined into something relevant to our modern generations – I find that inspiring.
My spin on that is to focus on the fellas and celebrate manliness in a way that is equal parts cheeky, sexy, blunt, juvenile and sweet – a bit dirty without being overtly offensive. I want to make stuff that dudes would have in their apartments…and trust me, these are good conversation pieces. I’ve got to give major props to all my Tumblr followers – I’ve been posting my pieces on The Cracker Finishing School for Boys from the very beginning and I certainly would not be nearly as motivated to stitch without their constant support, reblogs and laughter. And I’m constantly inspired by the folks at Mr. XStitch – especially beefranck, who featured my very first so-called “dirty” stitch that simply stated “I Have A Boner.” We’ve gotten to be great friends since, and I figure that if I can either shock her or make her giggle then I’ve done good work.
JJ: I love them – MrXS and bee are two of my biggest inspirations as well! You’re in good company. What’s it like being a manbroiderer? Does your mother know?
MM: My whole family is pretty crafty. I grew up in my dad’s workshop – he’s built dulcimers, a harp, and some wonderfully detailed wooden kayaks and canoes. My mom sewed or knit quite a few of our clothes and was a hardcore cross-stitcher for a few years. She was the one who taught me how to knit. Coming out as a manbroiderer was easy as pie. Heck, my mom dug out all her leftover Aida and floss and sent it to me. But that being said, they haven’t seen the vast majority of my pieces…I’m not sure the humor would translate. Most of my friends who know about it have a fairly non-committal reaction until they see it, and then they say “oh…OH.” And then they want me to make them stuff.
I’ve met quite a few local crafty guys over the past year through the Scruff app for the iPhone. I had “subversive craftster” listed in my profile, and that not only started some great conversations but other crafters started coming out of the woodwork. My buddy Mikey and I started The Craft Boner Club – it’s just a group of hairy dudes sitting around, throwing back a few beers, and getting our craft on. We’ve now got cross stitchers, knitters, crochet-ers, and a few other things all in the group…we even had one guy say “I can’t knit or sew but I can make a bad-ass friendship bracelet,” and I was like, “Dude, you’re in.”
JJ: That’s so hilarious! When my book came out, my mom (who is in her 80s) said, “I love your book! I keep it under my mattress!” So I can relate. When did you start your Etsy shop and what do you sell there?
MM: After many months of friends begging me to start an Etsy shop, I finally opened MAN JUNK at the end of August. I listed 22 pieces and sold half of those in the first two weeks. It’s filled with testosterone-driven cross stitch and other manly amusements!
JJ: What can we look forward to – what’s your next move?
MM: Oh, I’ve got quite a few cross stitch projects in the works that will be making appearances in the coming weeks. At least one will be personalize-able, and I’ve got one design intended to be stitched on the waistband of a jockstrap. And I’ve got a few non-stitch ideas, including boxer-brief neck pillows. My sister thinks I should turn several of the photos into greeting cards. I’m full of ideas…I’ve just gotta get off my butt, put on some pants, and get to work.
JJ: You slay me! Just prepping the photos of your work for this column had me giggling incessantly. You truly are the next generation of subversive stitching, and I’m so glad I finally got to know you better. Hopefully your mom will find this article and see how many admirers you have. Keep up the great work!
About the Author:
Julie Jackson is the creator of Subversive Cross Stitch and Kitty Wigs. She has also authored two books: Subversive Cross Stitch: 33 Designs for Your Surly Side and Glamourpuss: The Enchanting World of Kitty Wigs.