Matt Cassan: Charcoal Art and Interview

10 Comments | February 10, 2011

"Renee" by Matt Cassan

"Renee" by Matt Cassan

Matt Cassan sits down for a brief interview with Drawn in Black.  His charcoal art is splendid and I especially like his women on bed.  Thanks to Matt for participating.

What’s your name?

Matt Cassan

Where did you grow up?

Port Colborne, Ontario

Where do you live now?


How old are you?


What is your educational background? What, if anything, did you study?

I started off at Niagara College, in Welland taking Visual Creative Arts and Design. Then I kind of did a year of Fine arts at Brock University (the program wasn’t for me). Then I went to Sheridan College for Classical Animation.

How do you make a living?

I work in animation as a character designer/production artist. I also teach Life Drawing at Seneca College.

"Rival" by Matt Cassan

"Rival" by Matt Cassan

How long have you been making art, and what role does that play in your life?

My parents tell me that I’ve been drawing since I was 2-3 (mostly garbage trucks and street cleaners then). Now art is my career and my hobby. I draw in my free time, paint digitally, and dabble in photography.

What does “art” mean to you?

I think something is ‘art’ the moment it is labeled ‘art’ by someone, however I don’t think that necessarily makes it good or appealing. I’m attracted to art that required skill and talent to create it. I like art that changes my view of its subject… art that shows me something in a way I’d never considered looking at it before. I like Art that’s challenges me.

What role does drawing play in your work? Is it a means to an end, or an end in and of itself?

It’s both. For some work I’ll draw first and paint over top…other times I’ll just draw.

What would you consider your “style” of art to be, if you have one?

I’m not really sure … I guess it’s realism, although I try to be expressive with a lot of the figure drawing I do.

"Amanda" by Matt Cassan

"Amanda" by Matt Cassan

What’s your weapon of choice? What medium and drawing tool do you prefer to use?

I change it up all the time. My standard for Life Drawing is conte or NuPastel and newsprint. But I often use craft paper too. For longer drawings I like to use charcoal and handmade paper, with big chunks of grit embedded in it. I’m also a big fan of drawing digitally, so Flash for work, and Photoshop and Artrage for fun.

What approach do you take for your work? Do you plan it out or does it emerge spontaneously? How long do you usually work on a piece?

My figure drawings are from 30 seconds to 3 hours. I enjoy the 5 to 30 minute drawings the best I think. The longer drawings that I use photo reference for take 5 to 20 hours-ish so they’re planned. I print out several copies of the same photo in different tonal ranges so I can see all of the value and form. Often the photos are of figure drawing models, or people I know or have drawn before, so that makes it easier. It’s hard to keep track of how long each one takes because I’ll just keep it on an easel and work on it in passing. Sometimes for hours, sometimes for 10 – 20 minutes at time.

Untitled (Woman on Bed) by Matt Cassan

Untitled (Woman on Bed) by Matt Cassan

Are there any people that influenced you that stand out? What current artists do you follow?

I admire and am inspired by a ton of artists … too many to list… off the top of my head … Henry Yan, James Jean, Craig Mullins

I really like the art of the old illustrators, Albert Dorne, Bob Peak … My mom had Norman Rockwell collectors plates around the dining room and I used to draw those as well.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve almost always got a drawing on the go, and I’m practicing my painting in Photoshop. Plus I’m really enjoying my SLR, so I’ve been playing with that as well,

What would you tell aspiring artists?

Listen to everything you’ve heard about drawing through the form, and learning how to see. Use online resources to get feedback on your work from other artists.

Untitled (Charcoal Torso Drawing) by Matt Cassan

Untitled (Charcoal Torso Drawing) by Matt Cassan

Untitled (Sitting Woman) by Matt Cassan

Untitled (Sitting Woman) by Matt Cassan

Matt Cassan online:

Flickr (Gallery)

Matt Cassan (Blog)


  • Would like to get in touch with Matt CASSAN ?
    Can you help me and forward in my e-mail ?
    Thank you

    Guillaume MARIGNAN
  • Beautiful drawings would love to know how long they take to sketch

  • Amazing artist. I also draw with charcoal, He’s a huge inspiration to me. I hope one day I’m as awesome. Would love to get pointers from this guy.

  • Would love to get in touch Matt Cassan. Amazing work … captivating.

  • this drawings are armaizing

  • Try to be in contact with Matt CASSAN without success,…
    If anyone know him thank you to let him my email:
    From Normandy

    Guillaume MARIGNAN
  • Hey guys,

    Thanks for the positive feedback.

    The drawings take me varying amounts of time depending on complexity/pencil mileage.

    I can post my email if you’re still interested in getting a hold of me.

  • Very nice work.

  • Love the subject matter. Beautiful textures with the charcoal. Thanks for sharing these.

  • Hi Matt – Your “Amanda” is truly superb … was wondering if you’d mind changing the link on my “Joan” and “The Destruction of Innocence” posted a few years back. The new website is the attached web address. If poss this would be greatly appreciated. Couldn’t work out how else to contact you. Hope u don’t mind – Thanks a lot. Anna S :o)