There’s More Than Meets the Eye in Mathew Borrett’s Illustrations

There’s a haunting quality to Mathew Borrett’s illustrations. Out of time and out of place, they present an imagined science fiction-like reality, where daunting cityscapes loom on the horizon. A prevalent theme throughout his work is the relationship between the built environment and nature.

Taking a maximalist approach, the viewer is presented with a hyper-detailed scene that invites repeated exploration—if you dare step inside.

“I create spaces for the viewer to explore and respond to however they will,” he remarked once in an interview with Indigits. “So in that sense, the interpretation is open and free.”

Born in rural Ontario, Borrett is currently based in Toronto, where he works in the visual effects industry for both TV and film. Having graduated from the Illustration Program at the Ontario College of Art & Design in 1998, his work blends traditional drawing with digital techniques.

According to Borrett, his work often highlights the tension between security and insecurity: “I often draw spaces that you might want to hide in or hide from, or where outside and inside are blurred. Protective walls are breached.”

A natural-born builder who’d grown up on Lego, his work is also very much a dialogue with the natural world. “The natural world inspires me most,” says Borrett, “the way it resolves into infinite detail in both directions, if you have the eyes or instruments to look closely enough.”

Scroll down to see some recent highlights from his Instagram.