Matt Wild is the founder of Wild Creations, a Cardiff company creating sculpture, props and displays who pride themselves on realising the weird and wonderful. Their creations include Cardiff Castle’s Ball in the Wall for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, CADW Caerphilly Dragon, life-sized sculptures of velociraptors for the launch of Jurassic World and a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man crashing through the floor of London’s Waterloo Station to promote Ghostbusters – to name just a few. Matt studied stage management at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and worked as a set dresser for Doctor Who before starting Wild Creations six years ago.
Can you tell us a bit about your work?
Wild Creations is about doing things that aren’t particularly traditional. I think we’ve got a good approach - we try to push ourselves quite a lot and strive for perfection, whether we reach it or not, I don’t know… When we did the dragon in Caerphilly we wanted that to look as amazing as it could, so we sculpted it out of clay to get it really detailed. It was nice - people actually referred to it as ‘the dragon’ rather than a sculpture so it really got people’s imaginations going. A lot of what we do is not just about the design itself, but knowing where it will work and thinking about what will capture people’s imaginations. With the Ball in the Wall, one of the things we wanted to do was to twist it so that it looked like it had a bit of movement and make sure the castle bricks looked right, to the point that we took a mould of the wall and cast the bricks out from there. We pay attention to detail. We don’t just take any job. Post Ball in the Wall, every castle in the country wanted a ball put in it but it’s been, it’s gone, it has been done. We’re quite particular.
Why have you chosen to work in Cardiff? What inspires you about being here?
I trained here and I know a lot of people here. Having done a bit of theatre and events, it gave me a platform to know who I could work with. Knowing as many people as I did, it was good to stick in Cardiff though and be close, a bit like a safety blanket. The more time has gone on, it is just a great place to be – there is a wealth of talent, there are more university courses in Cardiff kicking out talented people with a range of creative skills which is great. In terms of London, which is where a lot of our work comes from, access is great and there are economic benefits – our overheads aren’t what they would be in London, and because of this we can plough more money into making our offering better. Ultimately, that is what we strive for – to make them as good as they can be.
What challenges have you found in working in Cardiff?
I would say there isn’t a great deal of local work but I think you’d find that around the country because of the kind of work we do and for a long time, we didn’t do much work in Cardiff. To be honest it is picking up – we did the Ball in the Wall, the dragon and we’ve just done the EPIC letters – it is gaining a bit of momentum because people’s eyes are being opened up to the fact that big 3D stuff can get you quite a bit of attention.
How successful has Cardiff been at making itself a creative capital city, particularly in your area of work?
The amount of courses that are going on now, the BBC and Doctor Who being here have really helped. The nice thing that has done for us is if I meet someone and say that we’re in Cardiff, they’ll say ‘oh, Doctor Who is filmed there’ and it kind of gives people faith in Cardiff. If something like that is being made in Cardiff, that obviously shows that there is people here to do it. We have 30 staff here who live within a 20-mile radius which is testament to the talent which is here. Bearing in mind how much other stuff is going on in Cardiff, with the tv stuff, to be able to have that many people at your disposal is great.
Which three things need to happen to make Cardiff a more creative city?
My one gripe with Cardiff would be - and I don’t know who can fix it - but I think it is becoming a bit too neutral as a city, very modern. My worry with Cardiff is that it could lose its identity which I think on a cultural level means it could be any other place. If somebody came to Cardiff now, would they know the heritage of Cardiff being a massive dock? I think the quality of a city comes down to what people think about it and for what we do, people have got to trust that you come from a city that is buzzing, that is creative and actually if people who have been to Cardiff go: ‘Oh yeah, I went to Cardiff – it was just all modern shopping centres’ that is a worry.
Describe your favourite creative place in Cardiff.
I solve a lot of problems and come up with a lot of stuff in the pub…At our workshop we’ve tried to create an environment that we would want to work in, I think it would be there yeah. We’ve made it a creative environment, so it is somewhere that we can be creative.
What’s next for you? What new ideas are you working on?
We’ve got quite a lot of work at the NFL games this year. Some exhibition work for a local company. It is exactly a year since we did the Ball in the Wall and last year we did the raptors for the launch of Jurassic World – which was a great showcase of our work, given how detailed it was. This year’s been equally as good. We did the dragon, that was a good one, Ghostbusters was good too. We’re going through a bit of a transition period I suppose as up until now we’ve been really skills-led whereas a lot of people are design and sales-led. We’ve grown very much on the talent that we’ve got here and what we can achieve. We’re trialling someone who can do our paper design work for us which will put us in a different league where we can go to people with a proposal and say ‘do you want us to come up with a design for that?’ rather than ‘you’ve got a concept so we’ll develop it’. We’re very much firefighting all the time and so we’re putting a lot of effort into project management and design. So more structure, but keeping a fun element to it. I want to do something really big. Big, but detailed as well. I don’t know what that is though.
What do you think Creative Cardiff should try to achieve?
As much as I say the workforce is great or vast, it just needs to keep getting bigger. That is the one thing that will trip Cardiff up – there is a lot of work coming this way and there needs to be people to do it. I think although the industry is good at the moment, I don’t think anybody should rest on their laurels.