Many contemporary artists work in collaboration with others to make their work. David Shrigley’s funny and thought-provoking animations are a core part of his practice. In this interview, his animator Jimi Newport talks us through the process involved and reveals what it’s like to collaborate with David Shrigley.

What made you want to become an animator, and how did you get started?

I didn’t initially set out to be an animator, but my interest in cartoons, comic strips and graphic novels always seemed to influence my drawings, doodles and artwork.

My real break came when digital animation software came into use. Using Flash and After Effects, alongside Photoshop and Illustrator, I found ways to replicate 2D animation techniques into a digital format – well, most of the time!

I first got to work with David at Slinky Pictures in Brick Lane, London. I was brought in with other freelance animators to work on a set of viral animated films for the internet, which was a relatively new thing at the time. David and I hit it off, so I was fortunate enough to continue working with him independently.

Which animations have you collaborated with David on? And which is your favourite?

I have been lucky to collaborate with David on most of his animated films since 2006. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but one piece, Walker, was particularly challenging and rewarding. The piece was made for Ron Arrad’s Curtain Call exhibition in 2011 at the Roundhouse in London, in which an animated giant figure walks around a 360-degree projected LED curtain.

Alongside the challenges of animating a figure for a perfect loop, the film had to work at a huge scale, and work across a number of projectors. This was an immense challenge for David and I, and to see the reaction to the giant figure booming around the legendary space was an amazing thrill.

How do you go about animating a simple line drawing in collaboration with David?

Animating a simple line drawing involves drawing the key poses or actions of the character or object and then drawing a number of poses between them to create a smooth movement. When all these drawings play through at 25 frames per second the illusion of movement is created.

The collaborative process involves a lot of trust. David usually emails me the initial idea with drawings and a written description, sometimes with sound too. It is then a case of having regular feedback from David in response to work-in-progress versions of the animation.

The process is quite iterative and sometimes the animation evolves out of trying different things. It is not always a linear development.

Headless Drummer process. Step 1: At the beginning, David supplied these image files along with an mp4 of someone playing the drums, with a reference image of a drum kit layout (so I could understand which drum is which). David's illustration clearly shows the key positions for the drummer’s arms when he is hitting certain drums.
Headless Drummer process. Step 2: I animate the movement of the drummers arms and legs, as well as the drums themselves, frame-by-frame.
Headless Drummer process. Step 3: There are multiple single frame drawings for the arm movements and the cymbal crashes.


¿Cómo hace para mantener el estilo particular del artista dentro de la animación?

Esta es una de las partes más difíciles del proceso de animación, pero, por lo general, al realizar la animación dibujando día tras día en el estilo del artista, uno empieza a adoptar de forma natural algo de ese estilo y su estética.

Por último, si David piensa que no se ve del todo bien, o si me resulta muy difícil lograr una pose correctamente, le pido que me proporcione un dibujo para usarlo o calcarlo.

¿Cómo y cuándo se introduce el elemento del audio?

Idealmente, el sonido se graba ya sea al comienzo o en las fases iniciales ya que este puede determinar el ritmo del film o las sensaciones de la animación, particularmente si está centrada en el personaje.

Algunas veces se graba al final y se hacen ajustes en la animación si fuese necesario, pero en esos casos yo tiendo a trabajar con una “pieza guía” grabada por David o en algunos casos por mí mismo.

 ¿Cuáles son los mayores retos al hacer este tipo de trabajo?

A menudo, es lograr la acción o movimiento correcto de algo que parece fácil a simple vista.

En Laundry (Lavandería) David me pidió que animase un caballo que corría salpicando lodo en todo su cuerpo poco a poco, a medida que corría iba quedando más embarrado. A pesar de que esto parece bastante simple, en realidad resultó bastante trabajoso y complicado.  Los movimientos pequeños y lentos pueden resultar bastante difíciles de lograr.

Con David siempre es muy importante asegurarse de que la animación se mantenga acorde con su mundo y su estilo; demasiada animación o ponerle adornos a algo se vería inmediatamente fuera de lugar.

¿Qué opinas del trabajo de David Shrigley?

Generalmente, el trabajo de David me arranca una sonrisa o me hace reír. No es fácil lograr un balance de humor e imágenes que impresionen o que den qué pensar, pero su obra combina los dos aspectos y puede ir directamente al grano, o revelar capas de su significado.

Creo que esto ayuda a que tanta gente se sienta conectada con su obra de una manera en que a otras formas de arte les resulta difícil lograr.

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