Alive & Unedited: Matthew Richard Barnes

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

For about two years in college, I'd run into Matthew Richard Barnes everywhere - gallery openings, bars, concerts, classrooms. You name it, he was there. He's just one of those dudes with a hand in everything. We reconnected last week to talk about some new things up his sleeve.


I was born in Portland, Oregon. I've lived all over the United States - Illinois, Missouri, Arizona, Kansas. I came to Columbus in 1992, so this is pretty much home now.

My dad was a television cameraman. He ended up getting a job with a law firm here to do aviation litigation. He'd go recreate plane crashes, investigate why they went down and present the tapes in court cases. Then he moved on to just doing promotional videos for prop planes.

The coolest thing I've ever done is make the decision to stay in Columbus. My long-term goal is to really help define Columbus, Ohio, and what it stands for.

My days usually begin at 7 a.m. and don't end until about 3 a.m. I sleep for four hours a night and maybe a couple hours in the afternoon from time to time. Most of the time, I'm either meeting people, furthering some of the ideas I've been doing or making artwork.

Three things I can't live without are my boys, coffee and my camera.

I've got a lot of things juggling right now. I function a lot better at a higher pace. My time management has gotten unbelievably good. The busier you are, the more stuff gets done.

I just opened up an ad agency and creative consultancy called Mister Barnes. It focuses solely on small- and medium-sized businesses and getting their word out in micro-campaigns. I meet with people, and I consult with them on their ideas, try to define them a little better.

One project I've been doing is #tweetandgoseek. I create little four-inch-by-four-inch collages. They're designer coupons. For example, Betty's gave me, like, 30 $5 coupons and 20 $10 coupons, and I just put one on the back. Then I leave them places, tweet the location with a photo, and any of my followers can come grab the piece and go use it at Betty's.

I've also have been doing this thing called "The Reptile Show." My friend Nate is primarily the wrangler. He goes out and actually catches these reptiles. I kind of host in that Robert Stack from "Unsolved Mysteries" way. We're trying to get it on the Discovery Channel.

In the long term, I want to focus on an event tentatively titled Thinking in Between. It would take place in Columbus annually, showcasing the interior talents. It would be something along the lines of art, science and technology. All of those things are great to put on display, because it gives you a sense of cultural identity.

Something people might not know about me is that I have really poor eyesight. It's like -5.75 or something.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at