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 Arad’s Curtain Call exhibition in 2011 at the Roundhouse in London, in which an animated giant figure walks around a 360-degree projected 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.