Matt Watkins is a creative director and artist based in Birmingham UK. Matt began his career founding the Beat13 arts collective in 1999, producing exhibitions, publications and the Beat13 gallery in his home town.
In 2000 Matt started working with Jamie Hewlett as designer/animator on the virtual-band Gorillaz. Originally perceived as an experimental art-band project, the intrigue created by the award-winning website alongside modish collaborations with musicians and artists propelled the group to global acclaim and Grammy-winning status. Hewlett won the Design Museum’s Designer of The Year in 2006.
The Beat13 collective grew from collaborations with artist Lucy McLauchlan, brother Tim, DJ Guy Carlos, and illustrator Al Murphy. By developing a website and an inaugural exhibition at London’s Horse Hospital, Matt nurtured approaches to DIY independent collective practices producing art prints, the gallery in Birmingham, exhibits, roadshows and audio-visual orientated workshops.
Matt continues to collaborate with Lucy McLauchlan on murals, exhibits, documentation and global art initiatives including; a long-running relationship with Studio Cromie’s Famé Festival (Grottaglie, Italy); exhibitions in San Fransisco and Los Angeles; See No Evil (Bristol, UK); projects with Lazarides Gallery in London; The New Art Gallery Walsall and close relationships with the Keep-A-Breast foundation (US).
A number of Matt’s commissions in recent years have involved producing visuals & lighting for festivals and performances such as the Gorillaz live shows, Live_Transmission; Joy Division Reworked with the Heritage Orchestra & Scanner, Bladerunner at the Sydney Opera House, A Time & Place; Musical Meditations on WWI with Sam Lee and The Unthanks and VJ productions for DJs like Tommy Trash. Matt established the concept for the Why Music Matters campaign films and recently produced promo video for the band Ritual.
Matt’s practice has evolved to embrace AV technologies from the past and the present. Drawing and painting formed the basis of his early development, followed by studying dark-room photography, music technology, media-production and subsequent employment as a digital graphics technician. Many projects begin with drawing and painting, experiments with photo-media. Continually developed skills include DIY circuitry, LED lighting, circuit-bending, and sound engineering.
In addition to workshops, Matt has lectured at Coventry University, guided an interactive design module at Derby College and has spoken at a number of art and design events.
Matt’s experimental music/AV project Mothwasp represents both a culmination of his skills and a window into his world view. Stark, oblique, distorted and serendipitous, live performances invariably involve defunct analogue AV technologies, field recordings, homemade electronics and sensory barrage. Mothwasp have performed during film festivals such as Animated Dreams/Black Nights (Estonia) Flatpack (UK) and at music festivals such as Supersonic and Supernormal (UK)
matt (at) beat13.co.uk