Caitlin Mattisson: Queen of the Wild Frontier

For the first time in its nine year history, Roadworks put out a call for Wildcard design proposals in 2012. The force of nature that is Caitlin Mattisson answered loud and clear.

I recently spoke to Caitlin one summer night in the outer Mission, outside of a rock and roll show. We perched on the bench of a nearby taqueria and I learned of her abiding love for Alphonse Mucha, Frank Frazetta, the Illuminatus books, luck dragons, and midgets in business suits. No wonder her illustrative work is so fascinating and otherworldly.

Caitlin’s latest design sequence focuses on an intuitive response to classic Tarot imagery. The sequence sprouted from daily drawing practice: friends who saw examples posted on social media noted likenesses to major Arcana. “Every drawing fills a need for that day. I would look up specific elements, like a crab, and read into their classic meaning. Every time, it turned out to be a concept that I needed to address that very day.”


We discussed the possibilities for this developing series: Caitlin is thinking big for an initial gallery installation. “Maybe large format wood burning!”

With such strong graphic narrative elements, the images would definitely work in multiple formats. When I suggested partnering with a press for an artist’s book or limited edition deck of cards, Caitlin raised her eyebrows in consideration, but noted that she’s not at that phase yet.


An illustrator, musician, consultant and fashion designer, Caitlin currently divides her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. She’s worked with a range of professional clientele, but her favorite collaborator is business partner Diane Berry: the two founded Black Magus magazine, an immersive, psychedelic online storytelling platform for “killing it, and showing no mercy.”

When she has time, Caitlin teaches sewing through WorkshopSF, but right now? She’s at a ranch in Petaluma, focusing on carving intricacies into her Roadworks linoleum.


Early Roadworks reports noted that acetone was too hot for a proper image transfer on such a large scale in such summer weather (“Acetone transfer? More like a Greenhouse Transfer.”) but after experimentation Caitlin landed on wintergreen oil.


Her latest report? “The border is DONE!”


Killing it, indeed.
Watch the completed beauty get pressed live in the street this September 22nd!

All images courtesy of, and with big thanks to, the lovely Caitlin Mattisson.

This entry was posted in Illustration, Interview, Linoleum, Roadworks, Roadworks 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
elka weber
elka weber
elka weber is a writer, book artist, and library elf interested in publication design, hand papermaking, short fiction, long road trips and really crafty ideas.

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