How did you get into animation?
I made my first animations around the age of eight, with my granddad’s video camera. I think I saw something on TV explaining the process and then I went experimenting with a friend. This was before we had computers and digital cameras so I remember we couldn’t capture still frames at all – it was like: press record and stop it again – as fast as possible. So we ended up with something like seven frames instead of one, and a big bump to the camera for every pose. Quite a crude affair, but it was instant magic! We used Lego, plastic dinosaurs, ketchup… very exciting! I was immediately hooked, the magic of giving your toys life!
I think we made about 10 such stop-motion films, and I just kinda kept making them, trying new techniques such as clay and drawn animation and later drew a lot of animated gif’s in Paint. I never thought of it as a way to make a living, it was always just for fun. I don’t have any formal animation education, but I’m happy that I just found my path in a natural way.
How would you describe your animation style? And what is unique about it?
I don’t know if it’s so unique, but there’s definitely a naive passion present still, that goes back to playing with my toys. It’s like I’d rather try a new technique, even if I have no experience with it. Or if I can, invent a new technique – just to be forced to explore like a kid again, to go look for that same magical excitement again, if you know what I mean. So in that way, avoiding things that I already know, I might have a childish and authentic approach without trying too hard. So simply put, it’s a naive and handmade style.
What is it about the handcrafted, low-fi style of animation you love?
One thing is the look; a handcrafted work feels so much more authentic to me than something that was calculated with a computer. An organic and imperfect work, where you can feel the human involvement in the craft itself, is often connecting with your emotions instantly. It’s very hard for me to relate any emotion to the often cold and perfect look of computer-based work.
I think the same goes for the craft itself, when you make something with your hands it’s very likely that a part of you will be left in the work. It will express something from the artist or the circumstances it was created under, in one way or another. At worst you could end up with nothing but mistakes or accidents, but then what’s more human than that?
And from a more practical point of view – I simply find it more of an enjoyable experience to get my hands dirty than having bleeding pixel eyes!
Who inspires you?
Children with untamed imagination! I’m inspired by children’s play, before their world has been boxed in and limited by their parents and society. And people that are true to themselves and follow their own gut rather than anything someone else expects – weirdo’s and eccentrics in other words!
I guess I mean people that are not afraid to express themselves, or do what they feel like, in constructive and non-harmful ways obviously. I think there should be a bit more space, for finding alternative paths to walk on.
So people like this friend of mine Dirk Verschure really inspires me. He was doing an animation/directors course in the south France, and suddenly decided to walk back to The Netherlands, just because he felt it was the right thing to do for him then. He nearly got eaten by wolfs and almost died falling down a hill along the way, but he made it back, as a better person, I think he would say. Then he went to Berlin and now he is sitting at some street market there every weekend, selling his bunny comics and fish drawings. He is a great animator, but his choice to avoid commercial work and follow his gut is truly inspiring to me.
How is the commercial/creative balance for you?
Difficult, but it’s getting better. With my commissioned work I’m lucky because I’m able to do things my own way most of the time. The downside to that is the hours I end up putting in, since if I can choose – I will do things the difficult way. Then there’s hardly any time left to execute the ideas and projects that doesn’t fit into a commercial setting. Then again, I’m now so busy that I hardly have time for feeling shit about not realising them! But there’s definitely a feeling that I’m working towards a situation where I will do less commercial and more personal work.
So, what is next?
I’m working with the Dutch/French artist Serge Onnen on a plan to make a film with shadow puppets and ice. Some of the funding is already confirmed so hopefully we will make the art film Cloacinae next year.
Commercially I’ll soon be making animations for 10 new episodes of a Dutch documentary series for TV called “Tough Cookies”, it’s the third season.
And right now I’m busy with some visuals for the debut album of a friend, Blood Plastic. Doing some experiments with ice, liquid and a macro lens that might end up as a music video.