Oct. 31, 2012, 4:25 p.m. by Sherbet
New Talent: Emmanuelle WalkerA Swiss-Canadian animator and illustrator with a feel for characters
The oddly elongated girls who populate Emmanuelle Walker’s universe are elegantly beautiful –you won’t find any Barbie dolls in her animations and illustrations. Her talent consists of a deft blend of sophistication and playful quirkiness that renders her work warm and watchable. Walker grew up in Switzerland and Canada, spending her final year of an animation course at Les Gobelins in Paris. She’s recently relocated to London – where she has signed with Sherbet – and LBB caught up with her to find out more.
LBB> You were born in Switzerland and grew up in Canada - which country do you identify with most and how have these cultures influenced your creativity?
EW> Growing up in Canada from the age of 11, I feel more ‘Montréaler’ than Swiss, but I guess being based in Europe for the past five years has brought back my European roots.
When it comes to cultural influences, I believe my creativity has been influenced by both countries... and many more! Everything we see is filtered and processed, and it's really hard to analyse where it comes from. All I know is that I am currently channeling London.
LBB> You studied at the renowned animation department at Les Gobelins in Paris – what was your experience of the course like?
EW> Moving to Paris to attend Gobelins' final year was one of the best decisions of my life, but it was also the hardest to make, leaving everything behind on the other side of the Atlantic, but it was definitely worth it. I met a lot of highly talented people who were constantly trying new things and helping each other. I developed new, more efficient ways of working, and I became a bit more critical to my own work.
LBB> After spending four years in France you've now relocated to London - how have you found the transition?
EW> I have always been attracted to London. I visited the city a few times before officially making the move and I remember saying to myself how much I would love to live here. I really like the vibe of London, its people, its mix of cultures, everything. It reminds me of a bigger – but rainier – version of Montreal. The transition was quite natural. I have a few friends already living here.
LBB> You are both an animator and an illustrator – what is it about these mediums that you enjoy and have you ever dabbled in other outlets, like live action directing?
EW> It's really hard to say what it is I like specifically, if not everything. It's the method of telling a story that I enjoy. Most of all I like the fact that you can create anything you could ever imagine. I've been playing a bit with live action, but haven’t really done anything too serious. I think I would prefer to take the time to learn more traditional animation techniques and materials, such as gouache, which some of the Disney masters used to use.
LBB> Which pieces of work are you proudest of and why?
EW> The most recent ones. I like ‘ON and Off’ a lot. It’s the first ever animation to feature one of my own female characters that I have developed over the past few years. I also like the challenge of designing characters with extremely simple shapes and then animating them. It is so much fun.
LBB> Even though your illustration style is very charming, in ON and OFF, you've created something quite dark and disturbing - what inspired the film?
EW> It all started with Royksopp's ‘So Easy’. I thought I might do something with the track and I played it on repeat for a week. I liked the ‘on and off’ beat and wanted to translate it to the screen. I animated the first 10 seconds using several different elements as a test, and thought it worked quite well. From there, I decided to build up the story bit by bit, almost directly on the screen. I wanted things to start smoothly, build up to ecstasy, and then fall apart and break up.
LBB> How would you describe your work?
EW> I think I would describe my work as digital, with a focus on characters – and lots of girls! Having said that I like to draw pretty much anything. On the more technical side of things, I work mostly in Photoshop but still enjoy sketching things quickly on paper beforehand, which I think makes the drawing more alive. I also love to play with composition and shapes.
LBB> Outside of filmmaking and illustration, what activities do you enjoy and what do you do to 'recharge' your creativity?
EW> If I am not drawing or animating, I am probably sleeping, watching a movie, cooking, or taking pictures (I have a hidden amateur photography blog, will you find it?). I ‘recharge’ my creativity in museums, by taking discovery walks in London; along its canals, huge parks and streets. I spend a lot of time on blogs such as ffffound and a few thousands of tumblrs, building up an extremely organised database of images. This can be very time consuming, but certainly adds a bit of ‘power’ to my creative battery and referencing when I need some.
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