A Conversation With Matias Corea

A Conversation With Matias Corea

Whether building and customizing motorcycles or consulting on a product’s design, Barcelona-born Matias Corea flexes his creative eye no matter the circumstance. A co-founder of the creative network Behance and owner of the one-man, Brooklyn-based custom motorcycle shop Myth Motor, Corea’s life has long been led by a reverence for design. The 10,000 spoke to Corea about his start in design, inspiration, and his 20,000-mile motorcycle expedition through the entire American continent.

You’re a co-founder of Behance—the world’s largest creative network dedicated to showcasing and discovering creative work (now owned by Adobe). Can you tell us why you started Behance?

I moved to NY as a Graphic Designer in 2002. At the time, the main way to get a full-time job as a creative was to use a head hunter (a sort of agent) and a physical portfolio that was sent around agencies for them to page through. If you got a lead, the head hunter would help you negotiate your salary and would take a fee in the form of a month’s salary for sending your portfolio around. That was the reality most creatives had to deal with. If you were looking to hire someone, you had to call a few head hunters, which would only give you access to people on their (mostly static) Rolodexes.  It was an antiquated, ultra-localized, limiting process for both agencies looking for talent and creatives looking for a job. 

If you were looking for inspiration, you had to go to 5-10 websites that would host/blog work on a single creative field. It was exhausting. 

When we first started in 2005, there were no smartphones,  social media didn’t exist, and most creatives' mentality was “I won’t put my work online because it will get stolen.” But we knew that there was a future for a diverse global online creative community. Even though it felt like we were swimming against the current, we were determined to create a platform that would become the epicenter of the creative world. Today Behance has 72 creative fields cross-pollinating each other, tens of millions of creatives from all over the globe looking for full-time and freelance opportunities, and is a place to gather feedback and for a community of peers to connect with.

Can you recall the first time you knew you wanted to be a designer?

I don’t recall a specific moment, as I sort of fell into it. What I do remember is how bad of a student I was in middle and high school. I remember I had a hard time remembering and regurgitating information that was poorly contextualized and explained to us in class. I thought I wasn’t going to amount to much in life because the system I was in didn’t have space for me, a creative. It took me a long time to realize that the reason I had a hard time in school was that my brain was better at making stuff that didn’t exist than memorizing information. I was always drawing, but back in 1994, that wasn't a skill that society recognized as ‘useful’. Society has finally realized that everything we love and enjoy interacting with is made by a creative. Food, music, literature, photography, video, fashion, cinema, design, video games, motorcycles, furniture, architecture… we live in a beautiful time to be a creative professional, as our skills are not only valued but also respected and admired.

What is the most unique thing you've designed to date? 

All the motorcycles I design and build as Myth Motor. They are the perfect mix of everything I love: Adventure, motorcycles, design, and engineering. 

Where do you get inspiration? 

I can’t really pinpoint it. I used to keep tabs and folders both in physical and digital spaces but now I think those archives will bias our creative process. I still do save some stuff on Instagram, whether it is a motorcycle or graphic design, but I never ever go back to look at it. Maybe the act of saving it makes it stick a bit more?  I think the mind is a strange sponge that has many filters and ways to store information that I don’t quite understand, and I am happy it is that way.

You own a one-man custom motorcycle shop in Brooklyn and are an avid motorcycle adventure traveler. Where did your love of motorcycles come from, and when did you begin that venture?

I was born in Barcelona, a motorcycle city. Since I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by two-wheeled vehicles. I got my first scooter when I was fourteen, and my passion for motorcycles has grown consistently since then. 

At 18, I got my first vintage BMW, but for almost two decades, I was only a rider, and I didn't even know what a carburetor was. Six years into building Behance, I spent every waking moment in front of a screen, and I felt the need to work with my hands.  About 12 years ago, I found a mentor and started learning how to work on motorcycles. It took a while to learn what I know now, but I’ve always had curiosity and determination as my tools.

By 2020 I had built a small garage in Greenpoint, where I worked on my own motorcycles. When the pandemic happened, it was a perfect moment to put my head down and focus on building my first motorcycle from the inside out. The bike was purposely designed for a trip from Barcelona to Cape Town. I wanted to implement changes that I learned after riding my BMW R80G/S for 6 straight months on my Americas trip. I still had quite a bit of learning but time was on my side. In the middle of building the bike, I realized that I was really enjoying the process and learning a lot of new skills, and I felt that building these bikes for others was something I wanted to explore further. That’s how Myth Motor was born.

In 2016 you took your motorcycle on a 20,000-mile expedition through the entirety of the American continent. Why did you decide to take that journey, and what was the experience like? 

In early 2015, After almost 10 years at Behance, I decided to move on and figure out what was next for me. A few months after my sister Soledad passed away at 38, I was 36. 

The next six months were dark, and I felt lost. While I was searching for answers, I took a film editing course. The energy that came from learning something new brought light into my every day. One morning I had a moment of clarity, and I asked myself a question that changed everything: “What would I regret not doing if I was to pass tomorrow?” The answer was clear as I had been dreaming of a long motorcycle journey for years. This was the time to make that dream come true. 

A few months later, we took off from Brooklyn all the way to Ushuaia in Argentina. The experience changed me forever. I wrote Two Wheels South as a way to turn a page and close a chapter of my life. On the last page, I wrote: “I learned to expect and accept the unexpected. Every situation can be turned around if you learn how to deal with the disappointment, focus on finding a solution, and move forward. Even if I could erase any of the difficulties along our journey, I wouldn’t. Even the worst moments of the trip are now cherished memories."

Tell us why your current favorite quote is “It takes a long time to learn how to play like yourself” by Miles Davis. 

Miles was explaining how when he was a young musician, he would copy the styles of great players of the time because that’s who he loved and admired. As he grew in his own craft, he moved away from others’ styles and learned how to play like himself. 

I love it because it applies to all layers of life. As youngsters, we imitate and copy the people we have around us. As I continued to grow and become more self-aware, I realized that is a lifelong path to becoming more and more myself. But there’s no shortcut, you have to go through the motions of “imitating” others as you find your own voice. 

As the author of Two Wheels South and a motivational speaker, what would be one piece of advice you’d like to share with our readers?

The idea that you have your entire life to check your bucket list is a fallacy. In the times we live in, we're so narrowly focused on the every day and we forget to look at the big picture, the bigger arc of life. The only thing you can’t get back is time, so pay attention to how you use it, it's limited and precious.

Corea on his Myth 001 Adventure shot by photographer Gregor Halenda
Corea on his Myth 001 Adventure shot by photographer Gregor Halenda
Book cover of
Book cover of "Two Wheels South".
An image shot in Uyuni, Bolivia featured in
An image shot in Uyuni, Bolivia featured in "Two Wheels South".
Behance is the largest network for discovering creative work.
Motorcycle design by Corea for Myth Motor, his one-man Brooklyn-based motor shop.
Corea and his bikes in front of Cotopaxi, a stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, in Ecuador.
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