Shane Beam makes the everyday expressive through his hand drawn animations
The Chicago-based animator, highly influenced by the aesthetics of early 2000s PC games, puts everyday objects and animals into off-kilter situations.
- Alif Ibrahim
- 25 November 2019
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Animating everyday objects, animals and themes into situations that just feel slightly off-kilter, Shane Beam’s animation practice comes from wanting a genuine expression of his creative self. Although his style is decidedly upbeat and a balance of what he calls “the attitude of kitschy east coast beach culture combined with psychedelic themes,” the free-flowing animation style often involves slightly grotesque themes.
For instance, across his shorts Shane visualises a chicken hatching, growing up and turning into a roast chicken before returning to a yolk, a pill that destroys everything that it passes, and a man that loses all his hair before an audition for a conditioner commercial. “I’ll credit so much of my inspiration to funny animal videos online. The Tiktok algorithm really hits it up good. I’m definitely a low-key connoisseur of goofy mannerism that animals do,” Shane tells It’s Nice That.
Born in Northern Virginia and currently based in Chicago, the animator was initially self-taught. “I think the real start of my creative career was through a trilogy of films my friends and I spent our summers making about a fantasy version of my friend JJ, which I directed and edited,” Shane says. “I had no formal film knowledge and learned everything for years based solely on intuition. For better or worse, much of that process has kept with me and really frames the way my work ends up now.”
Some of his cartoon aesthetic, with its shifting shapes and clean lines, came from animations in old PC games like Pajama Sam and Freddi Fish as well as indie games from early 2010s like Limbo, Fez and Bastion. “Some of those projects felt like worlds that felt so personal in their style that it became a new genre of fantasy in my eyes,” Shane says. After discovering independent animation and comics a few years after, he was immediately charmed. “I was enamoured with how personal and true to the artist every single aspect of the project feels,” he adds, citing Adam Beckett’s 1972 hand-drawn short Dear Janice as one of the first few that he fell in love with.
Working full time doing 2D animation for music videos, illustrations, animated shorts, and the occasional motion graphics, one work that stands out Shane’s short Yolklore. In it, a grid of chicken at various stages of growth slowly shift into one another, like a chicken version of the Evolution of Man. “I like backyard chickens before it was a trend and have always been a big fan. Chickens say exactly as it is, they are the most ruthlessly straightforward animal and deserve a ruthlessly straightforward film,” Shane says. Starting out as an idea scribbled deep in his notes app, the looping animation shows the life cycle of a yolk.
Another project, a music video for The Imbeciles song Medicine, tells the story of the aforementioned pill, with some anti-pharmaceutical messaging. “The exercise of just working directly to an audio track is one of the best ways to find new styles of movement and rhythm in my animation and that definitely happened here,” Shane explains.
Filled with plenty of loops and objects that are constantly transforming, his creatively intuitive approach to animation – it goes without saying – is visible throughout his projects.