As The Big Draw prepares for Living Lines: An Animated Big Draw we wanted to talk to artists, animators and creators who have devoted their lives to the craft of animation. The thought of creating an animation themed event may seem daunting but we hope that this series of interviews will show just how simple (and fun) it can be.
Animation is a enormously diverse art form which is constantly evolving and redefining itself. From the simplest cartoon strips and flip books to the biggest budget CGI features, there is something for everybody to explore within animation.
Without further ado, let’s introduce Jim Le Fevre. Jim is an animator who has over 20 years experience in the industry. Perhaps best know for creating the Phonotrope™ (which you will find out much more about later), for nearly two decades Jim was represented by Oscar nominated Nexus Productions in London and has worked on a huge range of projects all with animation at their core.
What was your introduction to animation and the world of moving image?
The earliest most memorable animation on the telly when I was growing up as a kid were things like the Morph segments within Tony Hart's Take Hart, an obscure animation called Ludwig and a stop-motion series called Chorlton and the Wheelies. All very British and very distinctive and unique. I'm sure there were many more but those are the first to pop into my mind.
They all evoke the maudlin but delicious feeling of coming back from school on a rainy afternoon and setting myself up in front of the television and losing myself in them.
However, as I passed through the teenage years, I unquestionably matured through the Dope Sheet series on Channel 4 where I discovered the most obscure and brilliantly entertaining short films from people like Phil Hunt, Joanna Quinn, Alison De Vere & Ged Haney. There was also a US series called Liquid Television with lots of different styles of animation which was quite 'out-there'. It was like suddenly discovering the world you live in is a fraction of an enormous universe.
I could never imagine myself ever being able to make things as amazing as those people but it pushed me on a trajectory that has resulted in me being who I am now.
What (or who) do you feel are the biggest influences on your work?
It's funny but the people that inspire me nowadays are not necessarily directly 'animation' or 'drawing' people but people who have gone in their own direction and discovered things off the well trodden path.
There's a chap called Arthur Ganson who makes the most beautiful and intricate moving pieces/sculpture that are essentially utterly wonderful jokes and mesmerising to watch.
Then there is a group of people that make games under a studio called Amanita Design and another called Playdead.
I always remember the moments I first saw their work. I remember the feelings being so profoundly deep – the feeling of joy and satisfaction - that it's made me want other people to have that same feeling when encountering things that I had done. These are the people who inspire me to carry on tinkering with my own 'itches' and not try and do something that might be seen as 'popular'. That goes all the way from big ideas through to little sketches in my sketchbooks. If I get frustrated when I'm in my sketchbook it's generally because I'm trying to do something that 'someone else' would like rather than following my own instincts.
If it's specifically about drawing then someone like Saul Steinberg inspires me simply because of the power of the message he gets across with the simplest, almost crude drawing technique. I have also recently found myself getting lost in Eric Ravilious' work.
With people that practice things that I myself do I actually find it more of a burning envy than an inspiration!
A lot of your work has a comedic element to it. Do you think that animation as a medium lends itself especially well to comedy?
I'm not so sure that it intrinsically does but it certainly seems to work well in animation! In some ways, because in this western/British society animation is still fairly synonymous with children and childish sensibilities it has more of an opportunity to be usurped for comedy, especially more grown up comedy, however if you look to Europe and further to Japan you will see so many more genres represented as they have a far more mature and sophisticated understanding of animation.
It doesn't hurt that in animation one can take things to a far more physical extreme and the audience knows that it isn't 'real'.
At the end of the day it is about the film-makers' sensibilities and their sense of humour and the best things about the last decade or more in British animation is that there have been a broader range of comedic voices coming out of animation such as Mikey Please and Ainslie Henderson that really challenge the norm.
You can find out more about Jim and his amazing work at https://www.jimlefevre.com/ or follow him on twitter @jimlefevre and on vimeo https://vimeo.com/jimlefevre.
If you have been inspired by Jim's ramblings why not organise and event of your own for The Big Draw Festival 2017. You can register right here
Our interview with Jim will continue tomorrow when he will be talking to us about Visual Literacy!
About our blog writer: Oscar Moore
Oscar has been working at The Big Draw since August 2016. He graduated from the University of Bristol in 2015 with a degree in History of Art. He has a particular interest in Modern South American Art especially the Arpillera movement in Chile as well as the work of Oscar Munoz. As a lapsed drawer himself he has loved working towards getting as many people involved with drawing in all its’ forms, as well as rediscovering drawing himself. Outside of the The Big Draw Oscar loves playing basketball (badly) and writing about it (quite well), cooking and traveling whenever time and funds allow!