Animation Love Stories
It's the season of love, so we caught up with Aardman directors Åsa Lucander, Will Studd and Gavin Strange to find out how their passion for animation began.
"Growing up I think I always knew that drawing was something I wanted to pursue and for it to feature in one way or another in my choice of career. But what I didn’t know was that the moving picture was going to totally spell bound me and make me fall in love for real.
"I also remember the exact moment when it happened. I was studying illustration at university, and I took one course in animation for a laugh. Our assignment was simply to create a character and making it move. But seeing my character turn into life was such an impactful moment.
"It was like a whole new world opened up for me. I’m sure it’s a feeling that a lot of animators can relate to, the first time they make their drawing move. Suddenly you can create life, right in front of you. It’s as close to magic as you can come. And from that moment I was hooked."
Originally from Finland, Åsa moved to London in 2001 and joined Aardman in Bristol in 2014, where she is now based. She was first drawn to illustration and from there her passions developed towards moving images.
"I’m constantly falling in and out of love with different types of animation, but my first animation crush was on 2D. I fell for cartoons like Jamie and His Magic Torch, The Raccoons, Ghost Busters, Thundercats, He-Man, Ninja Turtles etc, all the 80’s and 90’s classics. I would practice for hours, drawing my favourite characters (mainly Slimer from Ghost Busters tbh). Their artwork seemed so perfect to me, I was fascinated how they could get their lines so neat, with smooth curves and effortless looking designs, it used to drive me nuts as I could never do it as well.
"Then, growing up with younger siblings, we had the Disney collection on VHS. So we watched the classics a lot. Plus the new stuff Disney were releasing at the time, like Beauty & The Beast, The Little Mermaid, and The Rescuers Down Under etc. We watched the tapes over and over, to the point where I can still sing all the lyrics to the tunes. It gave me a love of long form animation, and I’m never lost for something to sing in the shower! But most of all, those movies gave me an appreciation for the skill and effort that went into them, especially compared to all the Saturday morning shows I loved, which were raucous and fun, but more simply made."
Will finished an animation and graphic design degree in 2003 at UWE, Bristol. He has been creating and developing ideas ever since, and now directs commercials and short films for Aardman, completing films for BBC, Innocent, P&O, Toyota, Hellmann’s, Nokia, Channel 5, Sesame St, Braun and more.
"It’s 1994 and I’m 12 years old. A mate at school hands me a well-worn VHS cassette and says “you’ve got to watch this, I taped it off Channel 4 the other night”. That’s all the recommendation algorithm was in the 90’s - a friend excitedly thrusting an unmarked tape into your rucksack. So I obeyed his instructions, went home and for the next 124 minutes was transfixed by my telly.
"What he’d taped off Channel 4 and excitedly gifted to me was the incredible ‘AKIRA’. A 1988 Manga masterpiece written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. It’s an epic tale of biker gangs, telekinetic test subjects and dystopian corrupt governments in a post World War 3 world. As a 12 year old who’s animation input had come only in the form of Saturday morning cartoons, this was mind-blowing. I had never seen anything like it; the kinetic action, the complex plot, the visceral violence, the intricate animation and the stunning visuals. To this day, 28 years later, it is still my favourite creation of all time, it impacted me that much."
"It started a love affair with animation that burns bright today, which makes it even more special given that I proudly work within the animation industry, here at Aardman - something I could have never imagined back in 1994!"
Gavin is a Director and Designer at Aardman. Working at the studio for over a decade, Gavin’s creative output ranges from title sequences for the OFFF festival and Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, to channel idents for BBC Two and Christmas films for Fortnum & Mason.
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