Matthias Beckmann


Can you tell us a little bit about your background as an artist and filmmaker?

I studied at the Art Academies in Düsseldorf and Stuttgart, mainly graphics arts and drawing. I only draw, actually. Moreover, I do printmaking and drawn animations… animation since 2008. The reason for this was an exhibition in a gallery in Berlin where animated film was to be shown.


Ah, this means that you made your first animated film because of the suffest of the gallery?



Can you tell us what you particularly like about drawing as a means of expression?

You don’t need much to do a drawing. You don’t need much material, you can go anywhere easily and work on location. I always wondered what to do with painting because I have to carry so much stuff around with me when I want to do something in a particular place. As I like to work on location, it was always kind of clear that I would choose drawing as a means of expression.


You watch out for interesting places and your drawings refer to what you see and observe there. The approach to making a drawn animation seems very different to me because you work in the studio environment, right?

Yes, for a drawn animation I work in the studio at the light table.


Can you describe in which way your approach to drawing for animation differs from working on a regular drawing?

I don’t choose a certain location for my animated films. I thought about that once, but it would be an incredibly complicated task and would take me quite a lot of time. I rather create little worlds on my studio desk which I create with plastic figures, little houses, dolls, with any kind of thing that serves as a substitute.


What the two approaches have in common is certainly that I rarely make one single drawing. When I draw, I always produce many drawings. The same is true for an animated film, of course. The narrative element is also important for me. It can go as far as anecdotal, I have no problem with that. It all plays a role. Sometimes I think that my animated films refer back to things I used to do in my early work that at points was very illustrative.


How is your concentration different when you’re drawing and when you’re animating? I assume that when you are in a place that you access through drawing, it is very different from drawing in the studio…

When I draw on location it’s a choice and I can only work concentratedly for a certain time. When I draw here at home, which is what I do when animating, I do it for a longer period of time during a day.  A lot of the work is more or less mechanical, because each individual drawing is not important. A lot of it is partly traced and then has to be adapted a little. There is a lot of mass production to be done for an animated film. I didn’t trace any image for my “No Tricks”, for example. Nevertheless, I always had the respective previous drawing as a reference and made a small change. Of course, I look right at the object while I draw.


Do you start to think about drawing differently when you animate than when you draw on a series of drawings?

I wouldn’t describe the drawings on site as serial drawings. They are sequences of individual sheets. It is always the individual image that counts. Instead, I’ve tried to get “beautiful” drawings out from my drawn animations. Well, that’s not that easy! There aren’t many drawings in an animated film that can exist as an individual drawing. It is being made in a completely different way for a completely different purpose. The drawings are usually more simplified than the sometimes very elaborate drawings that I make on location.

What interests you about the relationship between drawing and movement?

The first film went like this: I just wanted to try out how it works, how it moves. The original idea was to make a drawing that moves very slowly, almost invisibly. A Film that is actually a still drawing which hardly changes. Thus, it had a relatively slow paste. I find that very interesting. It is enriching to have a film work as part of an exhibition. People always come to where there is something in motion. I tend to think it almost doesn’t matter what it is that is moving. That’s amazing!


Moreover, drawn animation adds to what I usually do: there is some strange story that always comes along, sometimes I speak a voiceover-text or write a text that I speak for my films. Or there’s music… you see, there are several layers that add to and extend the possibilities of drawing.


Matthias Beckmann (1965) was born in Arnsberg. He studied in Düsseldorf and Stuttgart and today lives in Berlin. He is constantly working on extensive documentary drawing series about selected locations, places and institutions. They are being created directly in front of the subject.