Hello all. Today I am honored to present to you an awesome interview with modern day artist Simon Beck. For all of you who don’t know Simon, he is an Englishman and best known for his gigantic geometric drawings that are carved by him walking on top of sand or snow and created with his own footprints. It’ takes him an average a “1 long day for the main sites in Arc2000, an area of 1.3 hectares. The usual reason for having to stop is tiredness, if I am not too tired I continue into the night until it is complete.”(Simon Beck Facebook QA)
Here at SocialMediaAge.com we reached out to users online and choose the best questions from within social media platforms which they submitted for this interview (kudos to everyone who submitted them) and here are the answers which Simon Beck has promptly responded. Also, if you are interested in checking more of Simon’s artwork you can visit his official facebook account at: https://www.facebook.com/snowart8848/. Also, below some videos of Simon’s artwork which I found on YouTube.
1) How did you get started?
Making drawings in the snow is a common activity especially at Valentine’s day, and I don’t claim to be the first person to do this. One day after skiing, in December 2004, shortly after I started living in the apartment I bought in the French resort of Les ARcs, I wanted a little gentle exercise, didn’t feel like hiking up the nearby mountain (which I was in the habit of doing when I wanted a workout) I decided to draw a star on the snow covered frozen lake outside the building where I live in winter. The skill set required is the same as I have from being a mapmaker (my primary job at the time) so I fetched the prismatic compass i use for the map making walked to the middle of the lake in a straight line and set out 5 radii and linked them to create a 5-pointed star.
At the time I regarded the drawing thing as a low grade physical activity when really I should be training at a higher intensity (I was seriously into competitive orienteering at that time) so I just made a few drawings now and then when I wanted some exercise but felt a bit tired to do a proper session also I had no camera nor snow shoes and there was no internet in Arc2000 but slowly things came together and in 2009 (5 years later) I decided to make the drawing my primary activity in winter and accumulate a collection of photos partly with the aim of creating a book, and partly so send out an environmental message about snow and winter and the beauty of the mountains and all that sort of thing.
2) Without knowing what type of artistic discipline is practiced, there is a real need for art to be more than just art. Art needs to help educate, help bring people together, help question old/current practices, help ignite change. What do you think the role of art is in today’s society, and what message do you want your art to have?
The last part of the answer to (1) above hints at the answer to this Q. There was (and remains) an element of showing people that the mountains are great, that the skiing industry doesn’t totally wreck the mountainside (the reverse, as it brings rich and influential people out of the artificial environment and makes them more aware of issues such as global warming). There is also the crusade for world peace. Trying to spread beauty using the internet, one possible project would be to get load of refugees to create an artwork that trascends political issues although there are severe practical problems and it probably wouldn’t work because there will always be war because there will always be greed and people who try to get what they want by taking it from others rather than by working together 🙁
3) How do you choose your subject matters? Do you have a conceptual idea before you begin? or Do you improvise as you go along? Do you abstract from something? or Do you improvise and are driven by emotion?
Nowadays most drawing are either suggested by others or are repeating drawings I have already made in the days before I realized I was onto a big thing and bought a professional quality camera. There is a vague plan (forecast to become reality in a few years) to produce another book so I need more photos which I have the copyrights to (a lot of my work nowadays is commissioned drawings for advertising)
Usually the drawing is drawn (roughly) on paper and a few measurements made before going outdoors. Sometimes I will make a mistake and then it would be usual to alter the design (improvising) but most often there are 3 stages: careful measuring for the key points, then drawing the remaining lines by linking between the measured points, then the shading of the areas.
So most commonly the outdoor work is a matter of faithfully reproducing something that has been drawn on paper. (although when it is a matter of simply following certain rules there is no need to complete the paper drawing)
4) You use nature as your canvas, how does it feel to create art on top of snow, knowing whatever you create will melt away?
Actually most commonly the drawings are removed when they get covered by fresh snowfall but now that we have photography the drawings are not totally destroyed. Most people will never see most of the world’s artworks other than as photos. If they did not get destroyed then every drawing would have to be made in a different location and every possible location would be covered in graffiti. I have made 40 drawings on the Lac Marlou at Arc2000 so clearly there would be a problem! Of course it is annoying when a drawing is wasted due to failure to get a photo (due to the weather not being as predicted on the day earmarked for taking the photos) but a percentage of failure has to be accepted in any outdoor activity. But even then it isnt a waste of time as the first attempt serves as a good rehearsal for the 2nd attempt (indeed, sometimes I will make a practice drawing before attempting it for real)
5) What were your downfalls throughout your journey to success?
The biggest thing I would do differently would be to take it seriously from the word go, when I first moved to Les ARcs (indeed, I would move there earlier). I was amazed when I started looking for similar creations on the internet and was unable to find evidence that all this had been done before. I can’t talk about downfalls as nobody is competing with me to do the same thing or anything comparable, besides I have only been doing this since 2009. If you insist I mention a downfall then I would say not having researched cameras more thoroughly and invested more in top quality equipment. Whether I shall come to regard my present lack of investment / time in obtaining the skills and knowledge to really make proper use of the internet, as a downfall, remains to be seen. (hiring an agent might also be a good idea!) At present I am focused on facebook as my shop window, and have not used instagram or twitter or pinterest and “could try harder” when it comes to making videos.
6) Any tips for emerging artists?
Work hard and make yourself as good as possible at what you do best. Take your physical health really seriously as it will pay huge dividends when you start getting old. There is no need to do anything extreme such as totally avoiding alcohol or drugs but be careful and sensible (especially with drugs; I wouldn’t touch drugs, it isn’t worth the risk especially on a mountain when an error of judgement can have fatal consequences)
7) Have you licensed your artwork and or any cool partnerships you would like to tell us about?
I have done some drawings for advertisements, but the cool partnership was with Icebreaker, the NZ based company who make great looking garments from Merino wool. They produced a range of shirts with my designs printed on them, and they sold really well. We also did 2 really cool gigs at Grindlewald in the Swiss Alps and they flew me over to NZ
8) What role do you feel social media has played in your career as a modern day artist?
I started putting photos on the web hoping that the photos would be shared round then people would pay for the really high quality stuff, that I don’t put online. IT seemed to work and magazines paid handsome sums for the rights to print my photos. But now, most of the money comes from commissioned drawings. I was concerned at first that I would become a sort of supernova, then forgotten, and was concerned not to expose myself too much. I think I have managed the internet satisfactorily; there are still people who haven’t seen my work and I’m not swamped with e-mails and an over-full diary.