Hi! I'm Matt Busch, an Artist who works on Hollywood properties like STAR WARS and LORD OF THE RINGS. I'm also the Writer and Director of the upcoming ALADDIN 3477 movie. Ask Me Anything!

Matt Busch
May 30, 2018

For over 2 decades, I've been one of the top artists working on licensed properties like STAR WARS, LORD OF THE RINGS, and INDIANA JONES, creating art for posters, books, comics, games, and more.  I've also worked with music acts like FOO FIGHTERS, BEASTIE BOYS, and POISON, creating art for promotional items or concert merchandise.

5 art books have been published of my work, including the recent HOLLYWOOD IS DEAD collection, the first that I successfully funded on Kickstarter and published myself.   By day, I'm a professor and faculty advisor of Creative Imaging and Illustration in the Media and Communication Arts dpeartment at Macomb College.

I also have a background working in concept art and storyboarding for film and television. This path of working on larger studio pictures has led me to writing and directing my own independent features, including the upcoming ALADDIN 3477 movie. I've also had some great Online viral success with the YOU CAN DRAW STAR WARS videos (based on the best-selling book of the same name) produced for StarWars.com and Youtube.

Learn more at MATTBUSCH.com

Follow me on INSTAGRAM

Subscribe to my videos on YOUTUBE

Like me on FACEBOOK

Follow me on TWITTER

Check out ALADDIN3477.com

We can chat art, breaking into the biz, STAR WARS, making movies... Anything goes! No such thing as a dumb question, so ask me anything!

MattBusch says:

This AMA will end Jun 1, 2018 9AM EDT

What is the Vibe of this AMA? What is AMA Vibe?

This AMA has finished, no more comments and questions can be posted and votes submitted to those. Check other similar AMAs here or host your own AMA!

Conversation (109)

In three easy steps and under a minute you could be hosting your own AMA. Join our passionate community of AMA hosts and schedule your own AMA today.

Let's get started!

Hey Matt!

Did you always want to be a professional artist when you grew up? Or was there another dream of yours that you had that lead you to the path that you ultimately ended up on? How did you know what you wanted to do with your life? Was there a bunch of things you wanted to do and just ended up falling on the right one?

P.s. we need a rematch on Mario kart! Hopefully you got your machines fixed! You rule!

May 31, 7:47PM EDT0

Great Question! The difficulty I had as a kid with the whole "what do you want to be when you grow up" thing, is that there were TOO MANY options.  I wanted to be (in no particular order) comic book artist, actor, writer, rock musician, video game designer, cartoonist, movie director... And the list goes on.

This became incredibly frustrating because back then, you were always told to pick JUST ONE THING, and master that... Otherwise you are spreading yourself too thin.  To a degree, there is truth to that.

But today we live in a day and age where the average american changes careers drastically 3 times in their adult life.  I don't mean like a doctor to a surgeon kind of thing, but like a firefighter to a child pyshcologist type of change.

On top of that, the way the job market is changing and people adapting to technology, there's a phonomenon happening where the more skills you have, the more viable you are to the industry.

That's my long way of saying it's a wonderful time to be alive where we can experience and learn and dabble in all of these different things.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, follow your heart!

May 31, 9:47PM EDT0

Hi Matt, Former student here!  How do you store your original art pieces? I know you have to have thousands between your profesional works, school demos and personal art!

May 31, 5:49PM EDT0

That's a great question.  It depends on the art. Most of the flatter bristol board pieces or sketches on paper end up in those Itoya portfolios so i can take them to shows and sell them.

Paintings on Illustration boards get stacked on a shelf (also brought to shows).  Because I paint in acrylics, these are fine to stack on top of each other without worry of any damage.

Larger paintings that are framed or on canvas- they stand upright in a storage room where my Dad helped me build these upright slats to put them in.  It's cool because I can keep a lot in a small space, but it's easy to look through them if I need to.

Last edited @ Jun 1, 9:09AM EDT.
May 31, 9:52PM EDT0

Hey Matt,

I found you through one of my favorite musical artists, Celldweller, and I've been following your instagram seeing all of the cool ALADDIN 3477 updates and shoots.

My question for you today is: With the annoucement of Star Wars Celebration Chicago, can we expect to see you in the windy city as a panel guest or even have a booth set up?

Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read this and answer!

Best of luck and looking forward to seeing your future works!

- Colin

Last edited @ May 31, 5:06PM EDT.
May 31, 5:06PM EDT1

Hi Colin!

I'm also a huge CELLDWELLER fan, I even saw him play live way back when he was touring for his first album!  Today, I get to call him a friend and he is just the coolest guy and super down-to-earth.  His music is just incredible!

I'm also beyond stoked that Klayton's music will be in ALADDIN 3477! 5 tracks are licensed, but also we are using a lot of his production assets from Refractor Audio.  So even though he isn't doing a specific score or doing all of the music, it's cool because it sounds like his fingerprints are all over it!  Oh and he'll have an awesome cameo in the movie.  We've already filmed one with Blue Stahli!

To answer your question- YES! Lin Zy and I will be at STAR WARS Celebration in Chicago!  Can't wait- we love Chi Town and it's been far too long.  Please come by and say hi!!

May 31, 10:03PM EDT1

Thank you Matt Bush,

I want to tell a story in my art from Illustration or photos. I use to only want money and you are right it did hurt my passion. I want my passion I dont care for what I make. I just want to create art with love and telling a story

May 31, 3:05PM EDT0

Okay, NOW WE'RE TALKIN'!  And the good news is, if you follow this passion, never give up, use every fabric of you being to make it so and be the best you can be, not only will you make it work, you'll find financial success with it.  I truly believe that.  But you have to give it your all and keep the faith.

Okay, so from here, you have some options, and many of them could be / should be explored.  With your art and/or photos, how do you envision telling your stories?  Off the top of my head, this can be done though comic books, graphic novels, picture books, pop-up-books, cartoons, animation of all kinds, Online web series, eBooks, digital slideshows, apps for post PC devices and all kinds of new and emerging media.

You'll want to start experimenting with these possibilities, perhaps a few, and you'll probably be able to tell which ones are working for you and which aren't.  What are you having more fun with?  What media seems to be communicating your story better?

These answers will start to present themselves.  And as a fan of visual storytelling, I can't wait to see what you do, so hit me up Online and show me what you've got!  :)

Last edited @ May 31, 3:49PM EDT.
May 31, 3:48PM EDT0

I am a multimedia graphic artist and a traditional artist and wanted to know. What's the best way to get into the field has a graphic designer, or how to find work. I have a digree from Macomb, Specs Howard, and Oakland universty for graphic design and still cant get my foot in the door. What is the best route to get my foot in the door because I am total lost were to begain. 

Last edited @ May 31, 2:28PM EDT.
May 31, 2:26PM EDT0

I wish I had an easy answer for you... A quick phone call to make and then you're "IN."  There is no single best route for everyone.  And no one wants to hear this but the best rout for anyone individually is the road you are already on- you just have to steer where to go from here.

This is actually one place I often disagree with many of my colleague professors.  They will often tell students to go into a specific area or lear specific software because that market is hot.  

For one, markets change faster than studenst can get through school.  For two, you're telling students to chase money instead of chasing a dream.  In my observation, this is a life goal mistake if you are going into a creative field of assumed convenience, instead of following your passion.

It sounds like what you are looking for is really vague.  Having gone through those 3 schools, by now you should have it narrowed down exactly what you want to do and how you plan to do it.  From there, the answers are at your Online fingertips.

If you respond with a more specific area you are looking to get into, I can give a more specific answer, but from the loose info above, it sounds like you need to be more decisive before you can take the world by storm.

Lock that confidence and I know you can!

Last edited @ May 31, 3:39PM EDT.
May 31, 2:38PM EDT0

One question I love to ask is, "if you could travel back in time, What advice would you give to your younger self (as a child, and/or teen etc)". B)>+ 

May 31, 2:13PM EDT1

Great question and I think about this a lot.  Many of you asking these questions may find wisdom in this.

When I was in my 20's I was going through college and beginning my career as a professional artist / illustrator in the entertainment industry. Success never came overnight.  I didn't own a car until I was 26.  And I didn't live completely on my own until I was 30.  My mission was to make it as a pro artist.  I didn't want to settle.  I didn't want to be a "starving artist" statistic.

I didn't want to move back from Los Angeles to my home town in Michigan as failure. So, I WORKED MY BUTT OFF.  I spent every waking moment working on my craft, stuying, researching, doing homework, working freelance gigs.  I had no life whatsoever outside of trying to become successful.

And I eventually did.  But you know what?  I missed my 20's.  They slipped by me.  There were countless times I was invited to parties by other students and I never went.  I was worried that if I slacked on improving my craft, others would surpass me and take my prosective place in the industry.  I'd be lying if I said I never had fun, but I was wound pretty tight.  And I feel like I missed out a lot on life in general.

So if I could go back to my younger self, I would tell Matt to "chillax!" I'd tell him to live a little and that everything will be alright.  That things will work out great and that I need time to be silly and make friends and have fun.

Because the truth is, those experiences inspire you as a creative as well.  In short, all work and no play makes Matt a dull boy.  Haha

May 31, 2:53PM EDT0
Is your Aladdin going to be for kids or adults or both?
May 31, 1:31AM EDT1

That's a great question! As much as I love the Disney version, this is not the light-hearted musical most people associate Aladdin with.  The original story it's based on is very different and much darker.

That said, this isn't super dark either.  I would say both, but may depend on what individual kids can handle.  I'd say the feel of the movie is very much like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, in terms of action and intensity.  That film was PG when it came out, but I don't know that the same film would have that rating today.  As it's looking now, it would probably be a PG-13 rating.

Of course, anything could happen once we secure a deal with a distributor.  They could make a final cut that takes out some of the intensities and make it more for kids.  Or vice versa to make it more intense.  But classic Indiana Jones is the best I could compare it.  :)

Last edited @ May 31, 1:51AM EDT.
May 31, 1:51AM EDT1

hey who’s your favorite student who was in one of your classes this past winter semester who’s name is kiera

May 30, 8:39PM EDT0

Hahaha! Hi Kiera!  Thanks for chiming in.  Hope you're having a great summer!!!

May 31, 12:50AM EDT0
What was the hardest thing about making your movie so far?
May 30, 7:40PM EDT1

In general, we are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.  We are trying to make this movie look like it would have taken 100 million+ to make, even though it's family and friends on a shoestring budget.  Many peopel involved are getting paid nothing and the ones that are aren't nearly getting paid what they should.  But what we lack in $ and an army of professionals, we are making up for with passion and patience.

The most difficult has actually been scheduling.  Everyone has day jobs, so weekends are usually when we can shoot.  That said, on a scene that requires 30 specific people in front of and behind the camera, all it takes is one person to be out of town on a particular weekend to foil a date, and everything gets suffled back.  We are also renting a soundstage, so lost time is lost money.

However, we have really made the best of every situation, and even when things get pushed back, that only gives me time to do better storyboards and the crew to make more involved sets and beautiful costumes.  We've taken any struggles and found a way to make it better. :)

Last edited @ May 31, 1:00AM EDT.
May 31, 1:00AM EDT1
Do you have any quick advice for aspiring comic book illustrators out there?
May 30, 7:40PM EDT1

Yes! A few things.  1.) Get to know your industry. I've met so many aspiring comic book artists who don't actually read comics or know what titles are put out by which companies or who the hot writers and artists are at the moment.  If you want in, you need to know what you are getting into and know it well, or you'll be surpassed by those that live for this.

2.) I can't stress enough how good it is to go to the bigger conventions, like San Diego Comic-Con.  There, you can meet all the top artists, writers, editors, attend workshops, check out informative panels, and most of the comapnies have in-person portfolio reviews.

3.)  Lastly, make sure your portfolio samples are actual storytelling pages with panels, not just pin-ups or single character images.  You need samples of what you will actually be hired for.  :)

May 31, 1:13AM EDT1

Hi Matt. When will we see a trailer? A enthusiastic crowd at the last German Jedi-Con was able to see some very cool looking footage! We would like to see more! Please! 

May 30, 4:13PM EDT1

Awesome!  That was fun and the first time anywhere in the world that we showed any footage whatsoever!  The good news is, what we showed was a peak at just the first couple months.  We are now in our 5th year and the epic adventure is so much more vast.  I can't wait to share!

Annnnd, the good word is that the first trailer, plus a lot of other really big surprises will be unveiled this January!  Not too far off and some big announcements coming soon!  :)

Last edited @ May 30, 6:32PM EDT.
May 30, 6:26PM EDT2
Of all the things you can do what is your favourite as an activity? What would you like to be able to do but you can’t yet?
May 30, 2:40PM EDT0

Gosh...  I wish I had a solid answer for this, but the truth is I love it all!  Any way I can express myslef, or tell a story visually is just so fun.  I do love the variety and dabbling in a lot of mediums keeps it fresh and interesting.

One thing I really love but haven't been able to do as much with is music. Being in a band or in the music business in general really demands attention and focus.  So I'm not sure I'll ever be able to get that fix as much as I'd like.  However, I've been enjoying working with music arrangements for certain parts of the indie movies I'm creating.  :)

Last edited @ May 30, 6:32PM EDT.
May 30, 6:31PM EDT0

Who's your favourite Star Wars character?

May 30, 2:38PM EDT0

Ever since I was a kid and saw STAR WARS, my eyes light up at the sight of Artoo-Detoo!  I think I just love the idea of having a best friend robot sidekick.

So I'd say, Artoo.  However, BB-8 is giving him a serious run for his money!

May 30, 6:35PM EDT0

What do I need to do to put my projects out into the comics books?

May 30, 12:57PM EDT0

The biggest thing that I see aspiring artists not doing that they should be in order to break into the comic book industry:  You need to create sample pages showing that you can tell a story visually.

It's kind of a no brainer for any kind of art field.  You need to have a portfolio of samples that reflect exactly the type of work you're looking to do.  If you want to create CD art for rock bands, and you send a record company paintings of butterflies, they may be amazing paintings, but if it doesn't directly reflect the content, art directors don't want to chance it.  Who would?

Ask any editor who looks at prospective portfolios from eager artists who want to draw comic books for a living.  They will look through most portfolios and page after page will be an image of Batman just standing there, but nothing that shows they can arrange panels on a page to show nice direction of action.

So that's what you need to jam on to impress the powers that be!

Last edited @ May 30, 7:11PM EDT.
May 30, 7:10PM EDT0

You've got so many wins in your life, successes. Care to talk about the failures a bit, things that just didn't work out for one reason or another? tia.

May 30, 11:09AM EDT1

I'm so glad you asked that!  I was just sitting here thinking- "Wow- these questions are great and make me feel like a rock star, but the truth is it's not always so glamourous."  Honestly, for every big win I've had, there are probably 5 to 10 projects that either failed big time or at least fizzled out.  But you tote the wins on your shoulder with pride and let the fails drift away with the water.  Or better- try to learn from where things went wrong.

There are so many, it's hard to even pick one! I'll give a quick example.  I wrote an illustrated screenplay / graphic novel called CRISIS.  It's a story that, if turned into a big-budget movie the right studio behind it, I know it would be the biggest thing! So the idea was to put my all into making a graphic novel that would be easy to agents in Hollywood, etc. 

The book was well recieved by critics and the press.  I spent about 3 years after working day and night to seal a deal.  Constantly on the phone.  No exaggeration- I had to have mailed out over 1000 copies, plus hundreds more of an updated version with new art.  On top of that, well over a dozen trips to both New York and LA to set up pitch meetings.

And I was SO CLOSE...  SO MANY TIMES!  I can't even begin to tell you.  Big name actors read it and were wanting to play the lead- if only a studio would get behind it and give it the green light.

Probably the closest it came to actually happening was a big name producer (who I'll keep nameless, just in case) who was insistant that CRISIS would be the next movie they produce as soon as they finished the current movie they were woking on.  

But then, to everyone's surprise, that movie ended up being the biggest money-making movie of the year.  Which meant- they of course now had to make a sequel, but CRISIS would be next!  But then that movie did well also, so they kept making sequels and CRISIS kind of fell by the way side.

While in limbo, I've kind of just had to move on.  But that was a huge project of blood sweat and tears, and just a huge chunk of time, money, and effort that I may never see a return on investment.

But you never know.  And, who knows, there's a chance I could end up making the movie myself one day.  :)

Last edited @ Jun 1, 9:16AM EDT.
May 30, 7:04PM EDT2
What do you hope your audience will take away from your movie ALADDIN 3477?
May 30, 11:03AM EDT1

The biggest take away is that I hope they- not just enjoy it- but LOVE it! At this point with so much invested into it, I don't even care why they love it, I just hope they do!  Haha

But to better address your question, of course there are some specific things I am aiming for.  The general take away is that this story is a roller coaster of emotions.  I feel like I grew up with a healthy dose of films where most of them had it all.  You look at a film like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK... That movie has action and adventure, but it also has a great love story, incredible comedic moments, as well as really scary moments.  And on top of all that, incredibly thought provoking!

I'm not saying that movies today don't have any of those things, it's just rare that you find all of them.

So that's wat I want to do with ALADDIN 3477.  I want to have the audience on the edge of their seat, but I also want them to laugh, pull on their heart strings, and have drastic intensities.

I want the take away to be that the audience can't wauit to see it again and share the experience with a friend.  :)

Last edited @ Jun 1, 9:17AM EDT.
May 31, 1:26AM EDT1

What's the idea behind the Aladdin's movie name and how do you go about naming your projects?

May 30, 10:55AM EDT1

Once the idea solidified to make an Aladdin movie set in the future, I knew I wanted it to be called ALADDIN ____ (followed by the year it takes place).  I knew this about ten years ago, and my inspiration was loosely based on the comic book SPIDER-MAN 2099, as I always thought that title was cool.

Early on in development, I happened to be an honorary member of the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers, and my TK number is 3477.  (I came up with the number becasue if you turn each number sideways, it kind of looke like "MATT".  So, because I hadn't really planned out what the specific year would be, I just started calling it ALADDIN 3477 as a placeholder until I came up with the proper year.

3477 is pretty far out there in the future.  So I really wanted to change it to something a little closer.  But every number I tried (imagine ALADDIN 2386) just didn't have that nice ring to it.  The longer it stayed 3477, the longer I didn't want to part with it.

So here's an interesting tibit... This wasn't planned, but as it turns out, the year 3477 happens to be the 1,500th anniversary of STAR WARS!  So, will we see anyone celebrating this that far in the future? You'll have to watch the mvoie to find out!  Haha

Last edited @ May 31, 1:39AM EDT.
May 31, 1:38AM EDT0
How is your commercial work different than your personal work?
May 30, 10:40AM EDT1

That's a great question, but the answer is different depending on how you look at it.  As a working commercial artist, there's rarely time to do art for yourself when spend the other 18 hours a day figuring out how you are going to make money at what you do.

But it's tough.  On one hand, the fact that I can get paid to do art at all is amazing and I am soooo grateful.  On the other, there is nothing like doing your own work for YOU, and having the financial freedom to do just that.

So what I've kind of tried to do slowly throughout my career is work on the commercial stuff, but slowly slip in my own dreams with hopes that the personal maetrial takes over.  You could say that right now STAR WARS is paying my bills, but I'm hopeful that ALADDIN 3477 (my real passion) will lead me to be able to focus on more personal stories I want to create.  :)

Last edited @ May 31, 8:44AM EDT.
May 31, 8:43AM EDT1
Did you write the new Aladdin story yourself? Have you written scripts before?
May 30, 10:17AM EDT0

I did write it myself. While the basics are based off of ALADDIN AND HIS WONDERFUL LAMP from the Arabian Nights tales, this story is way larger in scope, many new charcaters and plotlines, and twists and turns that will keep you guessing.  And it's set in Asia, circa 3477!

I have written 6 full scripts prior to this one.  Many of which have made the Hollywood rounds, but lost in the shuffle.  Which is part of the reason over time I've decided to just make these stories myself.  :)

Last edited @ May 31, 9:17AM EDT.
May 31, 9:13AM EDT0
Before starting with Star Wars, what was your first commercial “break” as an illustrator, and how did it come about?
May 30, 9:55AM EDT1

Believe it or not, my first commercial "break" as an illustrator was with STAR WARS. It was relatively small, but I got my start doing black and white spot illustrations for books from the STAR WARS ROLEPLAYING GAME.

It didn't pay a lot, but it was published work and it was official STAR WARS material!  I was so thrilled!  Anyway, that was a great starting point which made it easier to leapfrog into other publishers and projects.

I always tell my students, "Aim for the moon, and that way even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."  Haha

Last edited @ May 31, 9:25AM EDT.
May 31, 9:24AM EDT1
About #ArtistAMA

Welcome to #ArtistAMA, an AMA Event channel for artists and their important work sharing their knowledge and art with others.

The #ArtistAMA channel is owned and operated by AMAfeed, LLC.