Artist Interview: Matt Box Acid Drops
We came across Matt Box’s work whist trawling the internet one day; we were most intrigued by his watercolour animations of professional skaters which “psychedelically capture the individual styles of individual skateboarders”. It’s an intriguing project that is completely unique in the way it uses such an uncontrollable medium to portray something that demands a huge amount of precision. Mint Magazine’s Sufiyeh Hadian spoke to Matt Box about the processes behind Acid Drops and skating more generally.
Hi Matt, so tell us about yourself and ‘Acid Drops’ – why did you choose to use watercolours?
It’s kind of removing the background and typical skateboarding music to create something where you see the pure style of the skateboarders movements. I chose watercolours because they dry quickly first of all and there’s a lack of control that I enjoy. I like when the colours bleed and I thought that made it look more trippy.
So painting is a lot different to graphic design as I understand it, how are you taking it in a different direction?
I get what you mean, usually graphic design is quite strict and about direct communication whereas painting is more fluid and about feeling. But both areas have a wide range of philosophies within them. There are quite conceptual graphic designers like Stefan Sagmeister or Eike Konig, plus there are super strict printers who love hyper realism. I’ve always been drawn to painters that have quite a graphic style though, like Keith Haring, Peter Doig, Ed Ruscha or David Hockney. I wouldn’t call myself an artist, I hate the term creative as a noun aswell. I just make stuff I think should exist.
What made you turn Acid Drops into an animation?
I was interested in a guy called Eadweard Muybridge when I was at school. He used to photograph horses and people in motion and then put it all together to make it look like they were running. It was always really fun making still images come to life through animation, plus you can’t tell a skaters style from a still image really.
Was it difficult painting every move? Did you live sketch or photograph it first?
It’s a process called rotoscoping. It’s breaking footage down into regular intervals and painting selected frames.
Who are the skaters?
The first episode was about Jason Dill, he’s a well respected skateboarder that kind of does his own thing. He doesn’t really follow the crowd and has his own clothing label that he runs when he wants. The second episode was Dylan Rieder, he’s some handsome dude that used to be a drugged up tray skate rat then cleaned up his act and came out with the nicest part for Gravis. Just really smooth style. They both don’t really copy the way other skaters skate or dress. I think they both have the ability to push skateboarding to places it hasn’t been before. There’s a ton of more old school influential skaters that I need to do episodes on.
Have you always been interested in skateboarding?
I guess since early teens, whenever nu-metal was big (I had a big KoRn sticker on my first board, haha). Then I kind of focused on design and art for a while. When I moved home from uni I got back into it more. I’ve always been interested though. I just got out of touch for a while. Sometimes it’s good to separate yourself from a scene for a while so you can bring something new to the table.
What are your favourite skate spots?
Anywhere, I don’t skate many parks because they’re full of scooter kids and some people get really territorial. I’m pretty boring these days and use my board as transport. I haven’t skated for the sake of tricks in a long time. I’ve kind of just accepted that I’m not very good, ha!
Explain the background music used in the animation…
The first episode was a really nice Tom Waits instrumental. The second episode soundtrack I wrote with an old bandmate. I like instrumental pieces, I think a lot of filmmakers make the mistake of using trendy music for their videos that they don’t own the rights to and doesn’t really relate to the work. There are all these lyrical ideas being expressed with visuals that don’t fit. I wanted to use music you’d never get on a skate video because part of the idea of Acid Drops is to make people who wouldn’t normally watch skating appreciate style. If I had a punk or hip hop track it wouldn’t have fit with what I wanted to achieve. I’ll probably make a spin off series with some heavier music though.
Who would you most like to paint/skate with and why?
Maybe Ed Templeton. He’s a great skater and artist. I’d want to paint a park with him and skate it afterwards. Either him or one of the other beautiful losers.
If you could live in another decade of time when would it be and what would you do?
Dogtown era pool hopping looks fun, I bet it wasn’t as cool as it looks. I don’t know, probably 80′s NY. When Keith Haring was still alive.
Cool! If you had an unlimited budget, what would you create?
Probably a ridiculous novelty skatepark that doubled up as a venue and gallery.
Check out www.unreal-estate.co.uk where Matt sells one-off tees to help fund the project. Every tee bought comes with a free painting from the original animation.
Interview by Sufiyeh Hadian