Matt Maley, Associate Creative Director, to Compete on Food Network Baking Show Dec. 6
The brain behind the popular cartoon of Marist’s mascot Frankie, Matt Maley (top photo, standing on the far right), will be building a gingerbread masterpiece on Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown on Monday, December 6 at 9 pm.
While Maley’s relationship with Marist goes back to 2009, when he helped develop the campus map as a freelance illustrator, he joined the Red Foxes permanently in 2019 as Associate Creative Director in the Office of College Marketing and Communications.
“I enjoy working with a great team of creative people. Everyone I encounter on campus is incredibly friendly and happy to be there. Plus, Marist is definitely the prettiest place I’ve ever worked at,” said Maley.
Maley and Chelle Baldwin, whom he met as an RA at their alma mater SUNY Purchase, will compete against two other teams to create the best gingerbread structure for a prize and ultimate bragging rights.
Gingerbread house construction began for Maley in 2017 for a couple of nights away at the Mohonk Mountain House. “I built my first gingerbread house for the 2017 Mohonk Mountain House competition. It was a 2-story garden tower, with a spiral staircase up the middle and lots of flowers. I was in it to win the two-night stay for two at the hotel. And I won!” said Maley.
Interested in the chemistry of baking, Maley has been competing competitively since 2017 in the annual Mohonk Mountain House competition. His first appearance outside of that competition will be on the Gingerbread Showdown. “I was drawn to the chemistry of baking. I hadn't expanded beyond the Mohonk competition until this year which is very exciting!” said Maley.
Owner and operator of Sweet Abilities in Nashville, Tennessee, a supportive and educational organization that teaches baking to the local special needs community, Baldwin brings a deep history in baking to the team. Maley admits that Baldwin was a “no-brainer” when a Food Network representative approached him during their nationwide search.
Split up into a builder (Maley) and a baker (Baldwin); they will have 10 hours to build their gingerbread masterpiece, incorporating a motorized element preassembled and shipped by Maley. “The competition actually began in my own kitchen. I had to document myself designing and baking all the structural elements for a four-foot, 36-inch high diorama with one motorized element. Then I had to ship it to Knoxville and cross my fingers that nothing got damaged,” said Maley.
While the outcome of their effort on the show will have to be seen on December 6, Maley already has his hands full with the 6th annual Mohonk Mountain House gingerbread competition bringing his experience back to the Hudson Valley.
Cartoon Frankie began as a simple recruitment effort by the College and evolved into a staple of the Marist brand across social media. “Initially, he was drawn as an illustrated version of the mascot for an Uncle Sam ‘I Want You’ style recruitment poster,” said Maley.
When COVID-19 changed how the College and the world operated, so did Frankie. “It was a whimsical, light-hearted way to communicate a ton of content in an otherwise dark period of time we were all trying to get through. This was when I developed ‘Little Fox’, because everybody needs a sidekick,” said Maley.
Maley came to Marist with a storied history in cartooning and graphic design. Graduating from SUNY Purchase with a degree in Fine Arts in 1990, Maley then began working in the Comic industry with household names such as Archie Comics and Marvel.
“I began working in the comic industry as a production artist for Archie Comics. Then I moved to Brooklyn when I was hired by Marvel as a letterer and logo designer. Lettering evolved into art corrections, inking, licensed and original illustrations. That opened the doors to working with more companies such as Disney, Children’s Television Workshop, and Nickelodeon,” said Maley.
With Frankie becoming a staple in the Marist community, it has been a labor of love with fun depictions like the recent holiday cartoon. “Frankie working on his laptop and little fox looking out the window at the snowfall. It’s just a sweet image,” said Maley.
However, cartoon Frankie has also come with challenges like creating 50 individualized images for the 2021 new student orientation, which Maley had to illustrate quickly. “The most challenging was probably the entire online orientation project; approximately 50 illustrations drawn in a short amount of time. I was using the previous cartoons as a style guide for the next ones. It was a continuous work in progress,” said Maley.
Be sure to check out Maley and Baldwin’s creation on Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown Monday, December 6 on Food Network!