Matt Brett's logoMatt Brett

Heyo, I'm Matt Brett

Father · Geek · Gamer · Musician

In short, I’m a web designer/developer from British Columbia, Canada (just outside of Victoria), but I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto. I’ve mostly been doing freelance work since mid-2005, working out of a cozy office in my home. I’m a father figure to three beautiful, strong-willed girls. I enjoy listening to my favourite albums on vinyl while sipping whiskey; typically bourbon or scotch, and spend my downtime playing video games or jamming on cover songs with my lady.

I started blogging in July 2004, but I’ve been building sites WordPress since the beta version was released in 2003. In fall of 2005, I launched a redesign as part of the now-defunct CSS Reboot, which ended up getting featured in several of the (then prestigious) design galleries. Shortly after, I was accepted into the 9rules Network; a collection of hand-picked blogs from around the world, which helped to gain further recognition.

On December 14th, 2005, Microsoft announced that they had adopted Firefox’s RSS feed icon. Back then, web standards still needed a good push, and I saw this as an opportunity to standardize how we linked to RSS feeds on websites. I skipped work one morning to re-create the icon in vector, told everyone that we should all jump on board now that the two biggest browser developers were sporting this unified icon, and the world seemed to agree that it was a good idea.

All this attention brought loads of traffic my way. Plenty of which translated into freelance work, and relationships with people whom I’ve never even sat down and had a coffee with, from all corners of the globe.

Just the Facts

  • I spent the first 32 years of my life in the suburbs of Toronto, but now reside in a small, ocean-side town in BC.
  • I’m a father figure to three wonderful girls, and share my life with an amazing woman.
  • I’ve been working in the web industry since 2000 and freelancing from home since 2005.
  • My first “real” job was at MuchMusic, where I worked on the web team, co-hosted a weekly show, and was known as MuchMatt 2.0.
  • I’m currently working full-time for Awesome Motive, where I’ve been filling the UI/UX Designer role for WPForms since mid-2018.
  • I’ve been an avid gamer since 1986. My first console was a Nintendo Entertainment System. Current favourite is PS4.
  • I’m a musician. I grew up playing drums in punk bands, now playing guitar and singing in a folk/country band.
  • In the 90s I owned hundreds of CDs. These days I have a growing collection of vinyl. Mostly punk, ska, reggae, and folk.
  • I look forward to my morning coffee and evening whiskey. I don’t drink a lot, but do enjoy a good bourbon or scotch.
  • I’m a Star Wars fan, but one of the good ones who finds joy in most of it (with the exception of Jar-Jar).

Interested in the tools I use to get work done? I’ve created a Stuff I Use page with a breakdown of hardware and software.


Brief Work History

With Tom and Jim from Jimmy Eat World at MuchMusic.

After completing my first year of multimedia design at Durham College, I felt that “higher education” wasn’t going to get me where I felt I needed to be, so I began my first real job search. I ending up landing a job at ‘The Nation’s Music Station‘, MuchMusic. For 2 years I co-hosted a weekly internet pop culture show under the moniker MuchMatt 2.0. I was later bumped up in the ranks to a senior position and continued to work in the Queen St. window until July of 2005.

Mid-July 2005, I moved on from MuchMusic and joined the Participatory Culture Foundation, where I spent approximately 8 months managing their many sites and working on the open-source internet television platform, Miro (formerly Democracy TV).

Since March 2006, I’ve worked as a freelance web designer/developer from the comfort of my home office. There was a year there when I stopped taking client work and joined a start-up design firm, assuming the role of Lead Web Developer. It didn’t take long for me to realize just how good I had it while freelancing; working with people I felt some form of connection with, on projects I was genuinely interested in. I decided to move back to the world of freelance web design.

September 2016, I stopped taking on new freelance clients in exchange for long-term contract work with Makeup Geek, Mischief Media, and Takeover Studio.

August 2018, after a couple of years of ups-and-downs, I decided it was time for some stability. An old client reached out and connected me with his business partner, the CEO of Awesome Motive, who are responsible for some of the most popular modern WordPress plugins. I was offered a designer position, working specifically on WPForms and MonsterInsights, and I took it! At this time, I’m no longer taking on new clients.


Video Games

I’ve been pretty big into video games for, well, since I received a Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas in 1986. I got out of gaming for most of the 90s, while I was busy riding skateboards and playing in bands. I picked the habit back up in the early 2000s, but the focus was on PC gaming. A couple of months after its release, I picked up an Xbox 360 and never looked back. Current gaming habits are leaning mostly on the PS4 side, but I also have an Xbox One and a Nintendo Switch.


Music

Over the years, I’ve played in a number of bands. Most notably, a ska-punk band called Lucky Number Seven from 1997-2002. I was, and still am super tight with the other guys in the band. LNS is responsible for some of my fond memories and I met so many great people playing shows around the country.

Though I don’t spend much time behind my drum kit these days, music still plays a huge role in my life. Spotify is always running while I’m at my desk, which is 8-10 hours per day.

In early 2017 I picked up an acoustic guitar and haven’t put it down since. Accompanied by my girlfriend (who plays banjo and sings), we hosted a weekly open mic at a local brewery for a year and a half, and later formed a band.

Small but iconic, this waterfall is seen by thousands every year who visit the #Sooke #Potholes. I had a lovely moment all to myself while the sun rose over the mountains.

#nature #naturephotography #canonphotography #vancouverisland #explorebc #longexposure #longexposurephotography #waterfall #sunrise #sunstar
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You never know what you're going to find while walking along the shore during low tide. I was heading back to my car when this little hermit crab caught my attention. Hopefully he didn't catch the eye of the seagulls who were scouring the shore for breakfast.

#canonphotography #vancouverisland #explorebc #sooke #hermitcrab #lowtide #seaweed #kelp #seashell
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Here's an outtake from our trip to the lagoon the other day. I was testing out some of the new filters I got for my camera, and was blown away at the difference the CPL filter made. The sky in particular, looked washed out and lacking colour without it.

One thing I'm struggling with at the moment is post processing (editing). I want to establish a consistent style, but I'm finding that one style doesn't suit all situations. I love dark and moody, but I wouldn't want that applied to the goslings photo, or this one for that matter. Why would I want to remove most of the light and colour? I watched a bunch of videos on developing a consistent style, and you really have to commit to it. Some photographers even said they will avoid sharing photos if they don't work well with their aesthetic. Which I can understand from a branding perspective, but at this point, I'm not willing to do that. Also, I don't want every photo to appear heavily edited to the point that it's no longer realistic.

Anyway, it's late and I'm rambling. I fired up Lightroom at 11:30pm and dove into this photo. Spent a decent amount of time tweaking the colours and tones to my liking, and here we are. It's still vibrant and colourful, but slightly muted. I'm trying to avoid going too heavy on that vintage, faded look, and leaving plenty of contrast in place.

I'm open to feedback and suggestions from any of my photographer friends out there. Or anyone really, who's enjoying my photos.
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My first macro shot! Got a set of extension tubes for my birthday (thanks Dad and Kelly!), and this is my first attempt at macro photography. Just a single image with no focus stacking, so the focal area is quite small. 50mm lens + 36mm extension tube. I initially tried stacking a 12mm tube which gave me nearly a 1:1 ratio, but it was a bit too windy and I couldn't focus. Pam gave me a focus rail for my birthday, which allows me to make minute movements to focus on tiny objects, but even then only 2 out of a dozen shots were in focus. Macro is hard!

#photography #macro #flower #purple
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