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Now acknowledged as the rising talent in military art, Matt Hall worked for years under master visionary, Steven Spielberg, at Spielberg’s DreamWorks company! These days, however, Matt no longer paints to serve the icons of Hollywood—he paints to pay tribute to America’s military heroes.
Matt’s artistic training began as a boy in Missouri, when he met an old-time western artist named Bob Tommy, who just moved from Texas. Tommy encouraged Matt to try his hand at painting. When Tommy saw Matt’s “natural talent,” he became Matt’s mentor and taught him the technique he had amassed in his lifetime of work.
In college, Matt studied painting. After graduation, he broadened his skills, painting everything from greeting cards to animation backgrounds.
Matt Hall was requested to do a painting for President George W. Bush, showing the F-102s of the Texas ANG. Photo courtesy of the White House. His career changed forever when Spielberg’s DreamWorks company found and hired him. Matt brought and his new bride, Michele, a Texas small-town girl, with him to Hollywood.
At DreamWorks, Matt rose through the ranks, painting concept art. When Steven Spielberg had an idea brewing about the Battle for Iwo Jima,
Matt painted an “epic concept” for him that Spielberg used to pitch the film, Flags of Our Fathers. Soon, Matt was named Franchise Art Director for DreamWorks’ Medal of Honor video games series, one credited with generating interest in WWII history among young people.
Matt grew as an artist through Spielberg’s critiques. “I learned from Steven Spielberg the value of listening to my ‘creative instincts’” Matt explained. “A lot of times, marketing dictates if an idea will be well-received, but Spielberg would often fly against the grain, if he believed in an idea. There was a time when the marketing guys said ‘WWII is done and dead,” but Spielberg followed his instincts and passion and made Saving Private Ryan!”
There, Matt discovered that he, too, possessed a passion to tell the stories of America’s war heroes when DreamWorks had him create paintings for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Working from just a citation and a portrait of a long-deceased MOH recipient, Matt brought their stories back to life. There, he discovered his calling.
Then, in summer 2008, Matt underwent brain surgery to remove a growth behind his eye. “It was a wake-up call,” Matt explained. “It got me thinking, ‘What kind of legacy will my art leave? Will it tell a story of something important? Will it be something people will appreciate 50 or 100 years from now? It was tough to look in mirror and say ‘maybe not’ since the art I was doing would be locked away in a vault once it served its purpose.”
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