Posted on May 22 2020

Matt Johnson by Madeline Johnson

It has always been our intention to encourage our community to look for the beauty that surrounds you, wherever you may be. In a world faced with isolation and a hold on transit, new discoveries and a beautiful escapism has never been a more valued pastime. It has also been a time to slow down and reflect on our daily rituals, our practices and values. A time to evaluate what matters most, and keep them close.  
We talk to father, artist, fellow nature lover and friend of Y&O, Matthew Graeme Johnson on co-parenting, relationships and fatherhood alongside his artistic practice. His work provides endless escapism into the hidden layers of the natural world through observation of the sea and an ongoing exploration of the inseparable relationship between man and nature and the part we play. The sentiment of his work is strong, that we are one in the same and perhaps a reminder to look after ourselves, each other and this planet we inhabit.
You can view Matt's current exhibition online at Jerico Contemporary. 


Photography & Styling Madeline Johnson 

-How has fatherhood changed you and your relationships? 
I think of it less of a change and more of an evolution. Parenthood isn’t a sudden thing - once pregnant, you have 9 months to process the idea of being a parent and caring for a child, once they are here it’s just one day, sometimes just one hour at a time. It’s a slow progression into a new reality beyond your control or imaginings. Embracing the changes and the challenges has shaped me the most. 

My relationship with my wife has naturally deepened and becomes more entwined and enriched each day. Before children we had always approached life as a team, and family life continues to encourage a high level of consideration, patience, understanding and respect that strengthens our relationship daily. I think there is a level of deep admiration I’ve never experienced before, which is something special. 
In regards to friendships, it remains much the same for us personally.

While we have friends in similar stages of life, friends who are likeminded and who share our beliefs and lifestyle, we have always aimed to remain open and accepting to friends new and old who may be in a different place. Celebrating diversity, modelling understanding and kindness to our children is important and starts with the relationships around us.  

-You and your wife have three gorgeous sons; how was the transition from two to three children in the family? 
The gap between our first two boys, Husker and Jorge, is 17 months and they have a very close bond.

Almost five years had passed when Miro, our third son was born. It has been the joy of our lives watching our older two so invested in his growth and happiness, he will be in their earliest memories, and they in his. 

What I love the most is the opportunity for Husker and Jorge to make sense of their young lives through watching Miro grow and develop. 



-Are you a hands-on father; what’s a day like in the Johnson family house hold? Any tips on how to balance work x family life? 
Yes, we have always co-parented our boys from day one and have each invested deeply into their growth and understanding of themselves and the world. We consider this such a privilege, although I would be remiss to say it certainly comes at a sacrifice in regards to our careers and aspirations at times. Thankfully, my wife and I work in the same industry and understand the workload and support each other through the challenges. We don’t believe in “balance” in this regard, but rather keeping mindful of what the situation requires of us and what is best for the family as a whole. For this to truly work, it requires you both to be invested in this belief and to exercise a great humility and consideration for each other.

Because of this, we have no typical ‘day’, however some rhythms and routines help keep the peace. We try to exercise first thing, whatever that looks like. I’ve taken up running with the goal of a marathon in July. Madeline will take a beach walk with one of the kids or practice yoga, sometimes its a dance party in the kitchen or a family bike ride. 

The two older children, 7 and 8, will self motivate through their morning routine getting ready for school. Then depending on who is on a deadline or who is on shoot, will decide who works and who is with Miro, 2, as he is still with us at all times. 

We aim to make at least one partner available for drop off and school pick up, and the afternoons are generally spent doing something active; surfing, skating, a hop at the rock pools. Dinner is early and in the warmer months best enjoyed outside in the garden, or on the beach in daylight saving hours. 

Miro is off to bed by 6:30pm so we can spend an hour with the older two without baby brother interruptions and give them our full attention. We late night bike ride, chat, read, wrestle, draw, practice gratitude, we let them guide this time generally. 
Once they’re settled its back to work for a few hours for us. Not always ideal, but for this season, it allows us the daily freedom to spend more time with our kids. 
In the evenings we work side by side, talk, dream, scheme, enjoy a wine or tea, listen to a podcast and discuss. Do life together. 

These are the days we will come back to over and over again. 
Overall, remaining open and adaptable and choosing to focus on the good is helpful. Fresh air, sunshine and nature is life-giving and a daily must. 



-Are you as interested in fashion as you were before becoming a parent? How has your style evolved since then? 
I have never been interested in trends or fashion as such, but not oblivious to it either. I have always enjoyed feeling comfortable and confident day-to-day. I wear what reflects where I am at. At the moment, we spend so much time seaside, it’s warm and so I’m drawn to more natural fibres. My fashion is simple and uncomplicated. As long as I am able to rock climb, wrestle or run around at any given time, I’m happy.  



-Tell us about your work and how you hope to influence your children into doing what they love/are passionate about in the future.
My work is diverse, I work across a few sectors in the photography industry. Like all work there is elements that deeply resonate and elements that require a little more motivation. I try to embody gratitude and positivity towards it all as an example to the boys.

In regards to following your passion and showing your children how to do the same, we keep it simple. Love what you do, make it a daily practice, involve them in the process, show them how to take risks and stay focused and consistent to the practice. 

Hopefully through a life of doing those things they will observe and feel inspired to do the same, but maybe not? And that’s ok too. 


-Do you operate more with a business mindset or is it more of a creative approach?  
Definitely more of a creative approach.

-Just say what comes to mind when you think about:
Your children - teachers
Your wife - my world
The future - hopeful 

Matt is wearing Y&O menswear, Aldouse shirt, Baier trousers, Josef shorts, Yalma shirt 

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