Thursday, 26 April 2012

the problem with blogging

well, not just blogging in particular. I mean more specifically microblogging: the stuff like facebook, twitter and tumblr that makes it easy and accessible to share pictures, thoughts and, "neat stuff I found on the internet".

I use both tumblr and facebook to stick my artwork on it and lately I have been having some thoughts. They don't make me necessarilly uneasy but they have made me fundamentally question my working practice.

Within my circle of art school peers and teachers, most people will readily accept that internet presence is a good thing: helpful for keeping a record of your work, displaying it to potential employers, expanding your audience and very hopefully meeting like minded individuals. And if you can do it cross platform (by using more than one social networking site), even better! It's just expanding your chances of the aforementioned good things occurring.

but I wonder, I wonder...

don't get me wrong, I think putting your stuff online is a must do and really good for you in these digital times (especially when you're doing digital artwork and have no physical master copy) and beneficial in a lot of ways. I am also mindful that what I am about to write about is not necessarilly relevant to anyone apart from me and certainly don't put down the idea of using the internet to its fullest capabilities, if you feel that's what works for you.

what I question is the rewards based system that accompanies sites like facebook and tumblr: the effective, "like" and "share" hierarchy that exists. I am victim to feeling proud when something I have posted on tumblr receives a lot of notes. the thing is, that more often than not these notes are meaningless to me.

how much validation is it if somebody who reblogs tens of pictures an hour reblogs yours? particularly if it's only done to impress others? why do you need validation?

this then of course leads to the inevitable question of whether I am indeed drawing and uploading content for the sheer joy of it anymore, or whether part of it is to do with keeping up appearances. ("but what about my audience? they'll miss me! or worse, they'll think I'm lazy...")

not that I'm implying that I think this every time I upload something, but the little thrill one feels when a note pops up saying, "so and so has liked this" does make me wonder.

it filters into normal life as well, particularly via facebook. How often do we post a picture, a status with the knowledge that it will get a lot of, well... 'likes'? Sure, it's not in the forefront of our minds but the idea is definitely there. And what does a, 'like' even mean?
Well, I suppose it means somebody likes what we do. But why do we need that? And isn't the clicking of a button on a website a very hollow validation? Certainly moreso than leaving comments; even then, on websites where comments are the only way you can express an opinion through comments (youtube I'm looking at you) they often just say, "cool" with little more added.

my main, personal problem with this is that it really reduces the human experience (I'm not talking about social networking as a whole: I think it's useful and an incredible lifeline to a lot of people, notwithstanding the wonders of being able to talk to people across the world! my problem is with the, "like and share" culture that accompanies it)

isn't a pat on the shoulder and a, "good job!" much better. or even no words at all, just wry smiles. a proud feeling in a room where your work might be on display even if nobody is directly saying anything about it?

I just wonder, that's all.

sitting still

image from the wonderful cabinporn
after much thought (most everything I do is after much thought) I feel that really, most definitely, the skill I would like to have above all others would be the ability to just sit

very calmly

with or without a cup of tea

and not judge myself at all or think about how I could do anything better

I don't think I have ever, at any point in my life, learned to appreciate my work/my surroundings/me in an effective way!

I think it says volumes that the thought of learning about this terrifies me far more than any work based/job prospect related issues I can think about. what an exciting challenge to overcome!

Monday, 23 April 2012


from Ami Lindholm's fantastic Anxiety/Relief
most likely reason you can't find information on anything: you're not looking hard enough. I humbly apologise to Finland for any comments about how, "there's just not anything here!!" I was a fool. a lazy fool who really, really didn't want to sit in front of a computer doing a research project.

but oh how things have changed!

Tuhru are a great animation/illustration/design collective and all fantastically talented ladies. Check out the link above of Ami Lindholm's Anxiety/Relief, a witty animated diary about the creative process. grand!

and I've found some more good stuff, but more on that later!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

FINNISH ANIMATION: general research

just a bit of general noodling about on my research on Finnish animation (which is purely, ashamedly through that wonderful digital resource we call the world wide webs)

Finnanimation is pretty interesting. a non profit association, it has a comprehensive list of all the Finnish animation production companies that have joined it as members (it's also supported by the Finnish Minister for Education and Culture, which makes it pretty official).

a worthwhile nugget: the president for Animation Magazine visited the country in 2009 and wrote an article here

also, Nick Dorra has some interesting animation stuff on his blog (although it hasn't been updated since 2011, the article on the Finnish animation environment is especially interesting)

some excerpts:

The studios are doing well, the Finnish animation sector in general is growing at a good pace. Animation contributes 32% of the Finnish audiovisual exports (survey 2011 by FAVEX)

(so while I don't necessarily know much Finnish animation, it seems to be doing pretty well! it might not be as burgeoning as say, Belgian animation but it's certainly not in a complete drought)

The financial environment is that of a small European country. This means that there is a limited national audience (5 million inhabitants), forcing producers to seek out coproduction options. Like elsewhere in the Nordic countries, programmes are subtitled, not dubbed, which makes for easy intertanional transactions.

The Finnish Film Foundation supports short and feature films reasonably well, but takes a much more reserved role with TV projects (usually only helping to finance development and a trailer or pilot). The Centre for Audiovisual Arts (AVEK) supports small scale demo projects tailored to the new media / transmedia niche. TEKES, “The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation” also supports some projects, especially with a more technological focus.

The film investment business in Finland is quite unevolved. However there have been some recent developments and one interesting player to look at is Mediatonic.
Interesting stuff! so there's some funding there and it's doing okay. I'm going to have to noodle around more (something I'm interested in is whether, as in certain schools, continents or countries there's a definite, 'flavour' of animation)

work with what you got

Socalled is an interesting fella (according to his website a pianist, composer, producer, puppetmaker and cartoonist amongst a plethora of other things). And also the subject of a documentary!

I like this song about doing what you can with what you have (the video is pretty neat too, as little sense as it makes it's a lot of fun and the animations over the top are cute). I've realised I'm into multidisciplinarianism: those people who break out into one or more fields and make their own job description.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


from Marjut Rimminem's 'Stain', 1991
currently I'm scouring finnish animation, looking for notable names, companies and what the er, 'scene' over there is.

Marjut Rimminen lives in London and is, "the most famous Finnish animator" (I glimpsed somewhere I can't remember that talked about Finnish animation as an incredibly niche thing and perhaps Marjut's emigration to London at the age of 30 is evidence of this: though that was a long time ago and I need to do some more investigation).

I suppose the fact that she is a notable player in European animation and I had not even heard of her says something: and it's not just me. Although Many Happy Returns is beautiful and eerily done it has a disappointingly paltry amount of youtube views (that said, I'm sure there's plenty of master animators in Europe and more eastern stretches that suffer the same problem). But she works in a variety of different ways, always with these beautiful gritty textures and more subdued colours. 

And of her recent foray into picture books she says:

"After all the years of painstaking stop-frame animation I have discovered the pleasure of making picture books. Instead of shooting hundreds of frames as in animation, I only need to get one shot of the scene for telling the story."

That's an interesting thing to think about! Is it worth the pain of stop motion, or can you tell the story in a series of beautifully lit, purposefully posed still pictures?

She works now giving animation masterclasses and was the animation consultant for this strange little idea (which I'm very curious about!) I think I need to look into this more.

if you want to work on your art, work on your life

Illustrator and adventurer Keri Smith (link in the sidebar!) is one of my favourites and says things useful to any creative person. she talks about creating things by utilising that notorious fear we all have (when we're starting a new sketchbook/project, when we get a little lost...) and using everything around you as an inspiration for art.

wow. lotsa good things on her website and blog about freelancing, making and living life as well as you can... what a lady!

and although they're a few years old now, I love her Wish Jar Tales, articles about creative living.

and a personal favourite excerpt (from the article your life IS your art):

"You cannot create art without a source, but the nature of what makes a good source is sometimes illusive to the maker.  Look to your daily life.  The things you do every day without thinking.  A walk in your neighborhood.  A phone conversation.   Your childhood obsessions.  A new purse.  The normal parts.  The "boring" parts.  Your favourite cup.  A hole in your shoe.  What's in your knapsack.  What you ate for lunch.  Include the ugly parts which we often discard as sources. The mess on your desk.  A painful childhood memory.  A nagging fear.  A terrible fight.  A death.  Use these as elements in your opus.    Write them down.  Paint them out.  transform them.  change their meaning.  It is all worthy of documenting.  Your view of the world is unique.  people will respond to your work when it is honest.  even though you might not see the beauty there.  sometimes that is better.  just get it out.  start by talking about what you did yesterday.  actually, just start."

Friday, 30 March 2012


Returned from the Monstra festival in Lisbon with fellow animation students (to a Bristol as sunny and warm as Portugal)

lots of animations were seen (not to mention tiles, funny looking people, dogs...). some were exceptionally good (above I've posted the link to one of my personal favourites: lovely storytelling and an interesting use of travel sketchbooks. you will note, on the website, that it did not even get a mention as far as awards go. such is life)

but also, a lot of stuff that tried too hard to be flashy or clever or deep. I suppose it's easy to judge from afar (and I'm not saying they were badly animated) but so many films were extremely alienating. I left many screenings with a heavy heart and furrowed brow and that was nothing to do with the emotional impact of the films. what was happened to humour and empathy?

but that's life and industry, I suppose!

and rather than be entirely disheartened by the whole thing, I'm buoyed up with hope. I hope that my peers  (in Bristol and around the world) and maybe me too can rail against this sort of thing and some day make some films with real oomph and magic! and maybe that's naive, but I think it is an achieveable hope.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

FLYBOYS and things

Matthew Robins is kind of a wonder. he sings songs and makes paper cut outs to accompany them (no, it's not exactly animation and it's certainly nothing on a par with Lotte Reiniger but it is honest and naive and all the more wonderful for it)

the above video's the nicest example I could find of the paper cut out puppets (displayed during perfomances on an overhead projector! supposedly defunct technology has so many uses) but there are so many lovely songs. I remember watching him perform last year and being bubbly with excitement, giddy and moved to tears all at once

there's a very nice interview the guardian did h e r e!!

he says a lot of things I like
and that are true to me too

"I'm not trying to please people, I'm just trying to do something I enjoy."

"I've been doing the same thing every day since I was six or seven," he says. "I've never not been sitting down drawing or cutting things out or playing the piano."
wonderful wonderful wonderful, especially since the beginning of the interview says, "In the league of popular art forms, folk music ranks fairly low, and shadow-puppetry lower still"
matthew robins is a kind of wonder and a magnificent lesson to always follow your heart


image sourced from here
Dukno Yoon creates these incredible articulated pieces of jewellry (and other things) replicating bird flight (Yoon also makes little animatronic figures

I'm pretty interested to see how observed motion can be interpreted through forms other than the animation we're used to (you know, stuff that you see on the telly)

plus the fact you have to move your finger to get that lovely wing flapping motion means you can actually feel it. fascinating!

Thursday, 15 March 2012


plowing through my notes from the past few weeks' lectures, trying to make sense of what I'm trying to learn here anyway!

so, as far as I can tell what I'm working out here is how other people (within animation and other relevant creative fields) work; how they got to how they work; how other people (in similar situations to me and many other students but at different institutions) are learning... about how other people work, potentially

some questions:

what's the animation scene like within Britain/Europe/other countries around the globe?
what's the best way to go about finding information? sneakily? journalistically? and if you're asking other people questions, is it better to be polite, ass kissing or insistently rude?
how do people work differently within other areas? I'm talking about comparing small companies, individuals, fine artists and freelancers
how the hell do learn?
what inspires me?
where on earth do I want to fit in to all this?
do I want to fit in to all this?
does anyone give a damn?!


what on earth am I going to have for tea?


the incredible storyteller and draftsman Moebius died this weekend. I have a lot of admiration for the man and a lot of thoughts on this, but I will only waffle (and his work speaks for itself: seek it out and make your own opinion)

but in the light of this I've been digging through favourite comics and pieces and interviews with the chap (sad that it often takes a death for us to reevaluate these things)

particular favourite of mine is what he says in this interview:

" [on his wife]“She says I exist because I always do something new, but many people they exist because they do something that is always the same,” Giraud said. “It is a kind of a performance to always stay; the audience sees them and admires it because they remind them of the past and they seem to always stay young, stay strong, stay active. The purpose of transformation is not for everyone.” A musical analogy was offered; Bob Dylan continues to push and experiment and revamp his music and persona instead of trying to stay forever young, while the Rolling Stones tour with all the familiar hits as a tenacious declaration that, no matter what the calendar says, time is on their side. “Yes, that it is. The Rolling Stones keep their audience and new ones come in and understand it. Their career is a piece of art. Dylan has pieces all over and it’s a diffused audience and there are chapters to him.”

The man they call Moebius trailed a finger along the brow above his healthier eye. “I have no explanation but I am interested in being alive. No, seriously, staying alive for an artist means to always be in an unknown part of himself. To be out of himself. The exhibition in Paris, the theme was transformation. Art is the big door but real life is a lot of small doors that you must pass through to create something new. You don’t always need to go far. If you are in the space station Mir and you need to fix something, you go outside, but not too far. If you travel too far you’ll die. Outer space is not human but you can visit. You need to be a little bit out there but you need to stay close to human.”

that's some wisdom for definite: everyone existing within their own different definitions. and to be interested in being alive, well, I think there's no purer interest than that.