Beeple’s Inspirations

08.03.11 Words by: Charlie Jones

I discovered Beeple a.k.a Mike Winkelmann while watching Flying Lotus’ video ‘Kill Your Co-Workers’. Beeple creates short films, live visuals, graphic design, music and drawings. His current work focuses on ways to visualise music through video and animation, with austere, fantastical and child-like themes, and in this first example of a new feature, he reveals the works that inform his art.

Flying Lotus – Kill Your Co-Workers from Warp Records on Vimeo.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a tiny village of 4000 people called North Fond du Lac. It’s in the northern USA and I still live pretty close to it now. We’re about 4 hours from the closest big city (Chicago). Around where I live there is really no scene for electronic music. People are much more into rock music and what not so it’s great to be able to find people who share a similar interest, even if they live half way across the world.

Where did you study?

I got a degree in computer science from Purdue University in Indiana, USA. I quickly realised even before I graduated that I really had no interest in programming, and that I was much more into doing art and design.  Luckily I was able to get a job as a web designer and could do video work on the side.

You also work in live visuals. How did you become interested in ‘sound art’? (is there a better way of describing this genre?)

Ummm, I’m not even sure what to call the genre.  It’s been called a lot of things, but I think you sort of need to hear it to really understand it.  I’ve always been into this relative type of music.  I’ve adored Aphex Twin, Autechre, Squarepusher, plaid, etc. and anyone else on Warp for many years.  I think I’ve always been in awe of the fact that these were people who were using the exact thing I was interested in (computers) to make some fucking awesome shit!

How did you become involved with Flying lotus?

Ummm, I did an interview with a friend of his who showed him some of my work, so then he just called me up and asked me if I wanted to do a video for him. And even though I had never heard of him at the time, I realised I was listening to a ton of his music through a Pandora station I had seeded with a very similar artist named Dabrye, so we really clicked right away…

What music is inspiring you right now?

Ummm, being that I was recently added to the Brainfeeder roster, I’ve been going through and listening to a lot of the other people on there and really digging their shit. They’ve got some really inventive shit that is super inspiring from both and audio and video perspective.   I’ve been working on a series of VJ clips utilising Brainfeeder artists… here’s the first one using some ace shit from Gaslamp Killer:

frankenstyle. from beeple on Vimeo.

Also, as I mentioned before there is so much inspiring shit out there that I’m inundated on a daily basis but here are some links to some things that have caught my attention recently:

When working on a piece I usually really don’t have a strong frame work set out.  The piece usually just sort of comes together over months of working out little ideas and putting these together.  I feel like most designers really take the time to storyboard things out and plan the whole project and make very detailed styleframes and what not, none of which I do.  Even with pieces like the kill your co-worker video.  This was very much made up as I went along, which I think is the funnest part of a project, letting it grow and take form on it’s own and sort of “being along for the ride”.  This does cause a lot of “what the fuck am i doing” thoughts though, which usually don’t subside until i’m about 95% done with the project.

Since my projects are very fluid like this, without a rigid framework, I am constantly being influenced along the way with a lot of the videos that I see.  For instance, event thought the style isn’t quite the same, during the making of “subprime” I was very influenced by the royskopp video:

I loved the isometric view and this was a major source of inspiration.  Likewise, during the making of “instrumental video nine“  I was very much influenced by the dirty and gritty look and feel of this video for new judas:

Huoratron – $$ Troopers from New Judas on Vimeo.

as well this video:

N.A.S.A. – A Volta from elucid on Vimeo.

During the making of “Kill your Co-Workers” I was inspired by a lot of different videos like this one:

NIKE SPORTSWEAR: NSW+FBGT from fla on Vimeo.

that is presenting something very violent but that has a very childlike, cute, light feel.

New film from David O’Reily, an insane animation – this shit will melt yer brain: 

The External World from David OReilly on Vimeo.

Kind of a similar minimal style:

THURSDAY trailer from Matthias Hoegg on Vimeo.

I think the was nominated for like an academy award or something. I love the changes in style, so smooth:

Madagascar, carnet de voyage, extrait… from bastien dubois on Vimeo.

A lot of times I get really inspired by little short experiments like this:

Cell Shading Experiment with Particular from Mattias Peresini on Vimeo.

Love the infographic style on this.

Canal Isabel II from binalogue on Vimeo.


Click through for Beeble’s thoughts on some other inspiring visual art.

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