From time to time members from our community can apply to be sent on Out & About inspiration trips. We send you out and you come back and tell us about it. If you’d like to be eligible for opportunities like this, you can learn more about becoming a member.
For this trip we sent animator Nino Werner to get inspired at the recent Pictoplasma conference in New York. Our friends at LOJEL helped us fly him out from Austria and hooked him up with 3 pieces of luggage for his journey: Cubo Small, Cubo Medium, and an Urbo2 Citybag.
Last week Booooooom and LOJEL sent me to the renowned Pictoplasma conference. The event series that started its widespread success in Berlin, by sparking and spreading innovative talks within the animation industry, was held yet another time in the vivid city of New York.
The Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall of The New School proved to be a glorious, yet small and inviting, atmosphere for the talks that were held.
In total, 11 outstanding highly influential artists, and some of the most promising upcoming talents, presented lectures about cutting-edge graphic, animation, character and story design, business opportunities and filmmaking.
Each presentation was unique and allowed the careful listener to learn something new. Here’s what I took with me:
Short animations by Nino Werner, based on notes from the various Pictoplasma talks
Mike Perry — “Keep a journal/sketchbook”
- Sometimes thoughts, ideas, memories need the time and space to be kept and to develop. Look through your old notes, sketches and maybe these will spark something great that might have gone in an abyss of lost thoughts.
- The video I created from that shows Mike turning into a book. He famously worked on an episode of “Broad City” where characters after doing drugs turned into cartoons experiencing funky things. I wanted to catch exactly that moment of psychedelic movement & transition.
Sophie Koko Gate — “Capture a personal feeling”
- Working on something that you can personally relate to is not only more fun, but also the viewer will be able to see the honesty behind it.
- Sophie’s latest movie is about a girl who got dumped and who artificially created a snail-boyfriend for herself. Referencing the attraction of slimy things, a thing even famous Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai was fascinated by, she tried to capture that with a weird erotic aesthetic that feels not only honest but also personal. As a result of that I jokingly animated Sophie kissing a snail.
Jeron Braxton — “You be you” (People will hate anyway)
- No matter who you are, there will be people who will hate you. Instead of chasing the acceptance by anyone, be who you are and do what you like.
- Jeron works with 3D art that he skillfully and artistically animates. Seemingly have the models glitch is an outstanding and innovative way of showing motion. I tried to capture his vision in a 2D setting and included not only his ever present dog-like creature mascot, but also wrote the text with some of the things he mentioned he loved.
Réka Bucsi — “Show up & get the work done”
- Réka had a written note in her presentation that was pasted on the door of her animation office: “You don’t always have to feel good”
- After arriving from a 20 hour flight to New York, Réka was very tired when I shortly talked to her outside. Yet she showed up and got the work done. Be professional about it. The video I animated pays tribute to Réka’s animation style/films.
Paul Budnitz — “Make Friends with stuff you are not comfortable with”
- Paul, a worldwide recognized innovator in a whole lot of different business branches, such as the toy business. He talked much about chasing opportunities and facing fears, which is mandatory for progress.
- In the video I animated a toy-like figure jumping into the unknown water.
Taili Wu — “Take breaks & go outside”
- Inspired by a sculpture she did, the animation shows the sculpture is left alone in the flat while the creator is outside taking a break.
Peter Sluszka — “Have personal side projects”
- As a director, Peter’s daily work is very different to his former days of being an animator. Personal projects can help to keep the spark and interest alive and generate not only new ideas but help to continue to enjoy creative work.
- The police egg character shown is from his upcoming stop motion movie “Hardboiled” that he has been working on for many years as a personal side project while doing his job at Hornet.
Felicie Haymoz — “Use lots of references” (especially when working with Wes Anderson)
- Using reference for art/design is positive and can lead to a great improvement. Don’t be shy about using it.
- Felicie showed a ton of references she used for each of her incredible character designs. Especially eye catching were her works for Wes Anderson, who sometimes also played a crucial role in the brainstorming of ideas / using references.
- The illustration I made is made in a way that it could be a Wes Anderson scene where the camera is showing a central suitcase with beloved items in place that could be of great reference for a new creation.
- The book title is a reference to the fake book “Invisible Ink” seen in The Darjeeling Limited
- The hat is from The Life Aquatic
- The Fox character and the balaclava from Fantastic Mr. Fox
- The Prince Harry Polaroid is from the fact that Felicie mentioned that she wanted to use Harry as a base for a character – which he eventually became in Fantastic Mr. Fox as a bad school boy.
- The Vinyl is a band name I made up that could fit in the Wes Anderson universe in a short movie like “Hotel Chevalier”
- The car could fit into The Royal Tenenbaums
- The “Pro Dogs” button is from the movie Isle Of Dogs
- The slingshot is from the movie Moonrise Kingdom
- The magazine “Rogue” is made up and based on hipper/evil version of Vogue and could also fit in The Royal Tenenbaums
- The VHS is based on Felicie mentioning the fact that she loves to watch old VHS for reference material and inspiration.
Orion Tait (from Buck) — “Conflict = Story”
- Orion’s talk was an essential story about human thought process. He asked the crowd “Why do we humans tell stories?”, shortly afterwards answering that “Humans are belief engines. We try to find meaning in everything.”
- Good storytelling is expressing something external that is happening internal.
- In the animation video I made therefore the character rips himself apart trying to become someone better along the way. This is a circle of inner and outer conflict where the character has to prove himself over and over again.
Miranda Tacchia — “Let images do the talking”
- Miranda, who came from LA and had her parents in the audience, showed her erotic illustrations. When you think that is brave, wait for what she did next! She hardly spoke and kept words to a bare minimum, showcasing images while the crowd tried to read through images / drawn emotions alone. After jumping to the next slide she showed the title of the image/ image sequence, making the whole crowd burst out in laugher by the new context put to it.
- In tribute to that I made up a scene of her character that I think could fit her narrative, style and humor, but then again, Miranda is a mysterious miracle artist.
Alex Norris — “Fail – it makes your style”
- Sometimes failing to achieve a certain look can help developing one’s own style. Artists that don’t shy away from working on their shortcomings sometimes work around them by developing new ways of achieving something that works for them & that leads to their own unique style of doing things.
- Alex is famous for his 3 panel comics that always end up with his character saying “Oh No”. He made a formula that he bases all his comics on.
- First: Something good is happening to the character
- Second: Twist that usually highlights what the character might have missed
- Third: Character is in misery saying “Oh No”. The voices used were in reference to what he would go for if he ever had his comics be animated. The “Oh No” was especially hard to pin down so he assumed that he’d opt for different “Oh No’s” spoken by kids.