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Public eye: Arman Matin, 37

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

Photograph: Zenith Richards

Bleecker St between Sullivan and Thompson Sts

What are you up to? I'm working. I'm a creative lead in visual effects. Right now I'm doing a commercial for McDonald's that features the Smurfs.

So you make the Smurfs do cool animated things? Yes.

In the name of selling Happy Meals? [Laughs] Yes, in this case for the U.K. market. And I don't do the selling—I really don't! I just work on the content.

Are you at all conflicted about promoting McDonald's? I'm actually not at all. I'm doing my best from a creative standpoint and having a fun time. My contribution is all positive.

It's too bad tofu companies don't make ads using Smurfs. At the end of the day, everything should be allowed; it's just up to us where we put our attention. Divinity encompasses everything. And if divinity is all, there has to be a place for everything.

So our overconsumption of hamburgers and french fries is a matter of divinity? In a sense, yes it is. It's not about good or bad.

I'm sensing that you're a spiritual person. What does spiritual mean? It just means you're more connected with the ways of your spirit. That's an inherently human quality.

Do you practice a particular religion? No, I don't. Mine is an all-inclusive divinity. How can God be anything else but everything? And if it's everything, then it's all-encompassing.

Too bad more people don't agree with you on that point. Yeah, that's okay though. I don't need to focus on the division. And I don't mean to say that divinity needs to be somber. Living, itself, is divine, so if you can enjoy your life, you are already taking part in the divinity. You don't need to chant or fast; you can be yourself and be divine.

I can totally get into that. [Laughs] You're already in it.

So, if you were a Smurf, which one would you be? [Laughs] Omigod! Let me see. They're such archetypes. I think I'd be, like, the collective Smurf: a little Papa Smurf, a little Smurfette...

Of course you'd say that. What about Gargamel? Oh yes, him, too. We all have our darker sides.

More from Arman

"I'm from Bangladesh. I've been in New York 15 years; I came to America to study art."

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Pen M
Pen M

I went to high school with this guy. He was college games prefect. Spirituality my behind. This guy used to beat up younger kids and often yelled at them in the most obnoxious manner. He once kicked a boy so hard that the kid started to vomit. I know you can say that it was a long time ago, and he has changed. However, this bloke never had the balls to go back and say sorry to any of these people he tortured.

Long hair and hippi attire does not make one spiritual. Owning up to a dark past does.


I must say, this was one of the most insightful, beautiful interviews I've ever read in Time Out. Thank you, Arman, for sharing boldly about your deepest held beliefs and how they inform your work. What a treat! Kudos to Time Out New York for publishing a short piece which concretely helped THIS reader to feel better about himself, my own process, and my spiritual philosophy (which mirrors Mr. Matin's). I tore out this interview from the printed edition and I am keeping it to read again and again.... All the best, and again, thank you!