Just when we thought this curly form couldn’t get any better, an edible shortbread ampersand turned up at our door courtesy of Maid of Gingerbread.
Move over Mr Whippy, there’s a new ice cream maker in town….
Art and Design fabricator, Neil Lemaire has created this freehand ampersand to add to our curly collection, using a mixture of waxes in a melting pot.
This is just a teaser of Neil’s talents, which include mould making, bronze casting, steel fabrication and armature making. He even finds time to run courses teaching all of these skills.
Find out more about Neil here: www.neillemaire.com
Our latest summer interview comes from illustrator and animator, Ben Cady. Sharing our love of the handmade, Ben specialises in hand-drawn animations using traditional pencil-on-paper techniques. F&E became a fan of Ben’s work after spotting his Goat and The Well animation on the animation festival circuit. His construction site ampersand illustration has also featured on our blog.
When did you first decide to explore the possibilities of animation?
I discovered animation on a taster day at the beginning of my foundation year at the London College of Communication. I had intended to do photography for the year, but a day scratching and painting on 16mm film, and then running it through a projector, convinced me otherwise. I spent that year experimenting with different media, and, after discovering my love for pencil-on-paper animation, I ended up doing a degree and an MA in it.
What was the first animation you made and how did you create it? What do you think of it now?
The first proper film I made was called ‘alive and chicken’. It was a silly film suggesting the possible fates of a chicken that went missing from my flock for a week, and then reappeared again. (Yes, I keep chickens.) It was fun to make, all done straight ahead (no key frames), and all in pen, with no rough animation (no mistakes allowed!) It took about two weeks. I played it to some children at an animation workshop I was helping to run recently, and it went down quite well! You can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/51077191
Why do you opt for a hand-drawn process, over digital animation?
I work using pencil and paper because I enjoy it more. We live in a world where most people spend a worryingly large proportion of their time staring into screens (computers, kindles, iphones, tablets) and I find it nice to look at a bit of paper for a change! I also enjoy the control and feel for detail that working on paper gives you, and the fact that the work you create is physical, tangible and actually there. I recently bought a graphics tablet to try, and it’s horrible! Almost as bad as using MS Paint with a mouse. Anyone want a cheap Wacom?!
Besides hand-drawn, pencil on paper animation, do you work in any other mediums?
My newest film Anomalies uses cut-out animation and a bit of photomontage, to create slightly surreal apparitions to accompany my drawn animation. I’ve also messed around with stop motion and rotoscoping a fair bit, both of which I’ve enjoyed immensely. My main passion is hand-drawn animation though, I just really like the look and feel of it, as well as the slow pace of work, which allows me to get through a LOT of audiobooks!
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Recently I’ve had a bit of a break from animation, since finishing Anomalies, which was a pretty epic project. I’ve concentrated on illustration a bit more, making greetings cards and other bits and bobs. I’ve got two animation projects in the pipeline now though. One is a project that I started during my MA, which is about a little boy being taken trophy hunting. The other is just taking shape in my brain. It will be absurd, ridiculous and silly, and will probably feature brightly coloured aliens speaking in nonsense languages.
If you could have made any animation that you have seen, which one would it be?
There are two: The Hill Farm by Mark Baker, and L’Ondee (The Rains) by David Coquard-Dassault. Both films are incredibly touching, thought provoking and simple, and both are subtly funny. They also both have a wonderful sense of timing, and neither relies on dialogue.
Where do you tend to get your inspiration?
I’m not sure. Often my film ideas stem from one drawing on a scrap of paper, drawn while I’m out and about. I don’t know where that drawing comes from. I think I just build up different experiences I have in my head, and sometimes they combine to make an
idea. I do a lot of long-distance cycling and walking, and I love the countryside. I’m sure the things I see when I’m pootling around doing these things influence my work, directly or indirectly. Obviously, other films, and also theatre, help with how I actually execute my ideas. Recently I’ve become obsessed with Monty Python…
How do you get so much expression into such simple characters?
That’s a compliment and a question at the same time, so thank you. I’m not sure. The eyes? The eyes. The eyes are really important! The eyes make them think. I actually think the simplicity of the characters is what allows them to be very expressive. The lines and shapes are so simple and easy to read that the slightest change in them has an enormous effect on the emotion they project. Also, if you use a very simple character, you are more likely to keep re-drawing, correcting and perfecting, to get the expression just right. Not using Dialogue is good too. Someone can say “I’m sad”, and you think “they are sad” but you feel much more empathy for them it they just look sad but say nothing, and you work out yourself how they are feeling.
Are you characters ever influenced by people you know?
I don’t think so. Maybe they are, unconsciously. I also expect they expose certain sensibilities I have. In terms of basing characters on people, I’m more likely to think of a character by looking at someone who walks past me on the pavement than I am by looking at someone I actually know. I can make up loads of stuff about the person on the pavement, even though it’s probably not true.
What would be your dream job or production to work on as an animator?
I’d love be able to get some funding for one of my own films. However, they are pretty cheap to make, so if nothing comes up I’m happy to keep on doing them on my own. I’d enjoy working on a project for a client who was keen to use my style of animation – hand-drawn, minimalist character stuff. I’d also love to work as an animator on a larger hand-drawn project, directed by someone else. I enjoy the keying and in-betweening process, and I’d like to think that hand-drawn animation is an actual useable craft, that I can use as part of a team, rather than just on my own films. It would have to be the right film of course. I did hear that Don Hertzfeldt might be making a feature…
Fred & Eric recently met with the very talented illustrator and Animator, Ben Cady, who brought this offering to our ampersand hall of fame; a building site ampersand. We thought this very apt, considering there is a building site not too dissimilar currently filling the view from our studio window.
Sharing our love of the handmade, Ben specialises in hand-drawn films. Creating simple and expressive animations which are made using traditional pencil-on-paper techniques.
You can see a handful of Ben’s animations on his Vimeo page.
And keep an eye out for Ben’s latest work at this year’s animation festivals.
Despite the frosty winds and freezing temperatures, Fred & Eric dusted off their Easter bonnets with excitement when they received this latest Spring ampersand from Kim Richardson.
Created entirely from moss, spring flowers and a glue gun - this ampersand is certainly brightening up Fred & Eric HQ.
Follow what Kim’s been up to on her website: http://cargocollective.com/kimrichardson
Animator and Illustrator Rosanna Wan caught our eye this week when her lovely ampersand popped into our inboxes. It’s the first we’ve had to take on human form. Perfectly adapted into a waving character and very aptly dressed for this wintery weather!
Rosanna’s tactile portfolio features an array of collage, hand drawn and stop-motion work. Particularly catching the attention of F&E are a beautifully flowing inky animation about a whale, as well as Rosanna’s graduation film featuring a cast of brilliantly characterised retired cowboys, called Skip Town.
Check out Rosanna’s work here: www.rosanna-wan.com
And more of her animations on her Vimeo page: vimeo.com/rosannawan
Known for their signature dance moves, F&E love nothing more than to put on their dancing shoes and throw some serious shapes.
So it must have been handmade psychic intuition that led 3D designer Thomas Bird to create this super-shiny multi-layered ampersand. Giving F&E’s ever-changing marque a disco-chic makeover. Now the party can begin!
Take a look at Thomas’s paper creations on his website: www.thomas-bird.co.uk
Fred & Eric love nothing more than things that come in twos, so were over the moon to be sent this knitted ampersand by the incredibly talented twins Olivia & Maisie.
Creators of their own blog ‘Twins & Needles’, these girls love everything handmade, and created this ampersand with nimble fingers and a keen eye for knitted detail.
F&E were especially impressed with the detail of the knitted flower and all of the tiny hand-sewn beads, which must have taken an enviable amount of patience to complete!
It’s already pride of place in our studio’s ampersand shelf-of-fame. F&E are looking forward to what the girls create next…
Take a look at Olivia & Maisie’s fantastic blog here: twinsandneedles.blogspot.co.uk
In celebration of Fred & Eric’s double award winning month; our Promax award for the Channel 4 Competition Spot and The Squeakiest Roar winning Best Animated Short Film at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, our favourite cake-baker Phyllis Knowles has created this yummy edible ampersand creation. Needless to say it didn’t last too long, but this photograph will guarantee to make us hungry for more every time we see it!
In her second addition to our ampersand gallery, designer and illustrator Laura Hopewell has created this hand-cut navajo inspired ampersand. Proving her paper-cutting prowess and expert eye for colour.
Native American arts & crafts have officially arrived in the F&E studio and we’re championing this papercut trend!
Check our Laura’s work on her website:
Chris Anderson popped in to Fred & Eric HQ this week to share some of his fantasticillustrations and cardboard creations.
Not only were we super impressed with his lovely work, but also thrilled to receive an excellent gift in the form of this monster ampersand!
Our cyclops friend sits proudly on the F&E mantlepiece, growling at any unwanted intruders. Visit the office at your own peril!
See Chris’ work here - www.andoillustrates.co.uk
An ampersand for all seasons. The latest addition to our ampersand collection in the form of an animation created by our intern, Mateusz Napieralski.
Fred & Eric’s brilliant intern Mateusz has hatched this inspired chicken ampersand design, ready for our Easter break.
Needless to say Mateusz’s eggcellent design is now pride of place in F&E’s collection, but strangely enough… the chocolate egg is nowhere to be seen.
Catch up on the world of Mateusz on his website.
Happy Easter from F&E!
Fred & Eric Celebrate their first Birthday today! In true F&E style, we thought it only fitting to mark this momentous date with an ampersand candle.
Thanks to everyone who’s emailed us ampersands over the past year. We’re really proud of our blog and excited to keep adding to it over the next year!
Lots of love from Fred & Eric (AKA Jamie, Sarah & Maggie)
(photograph by Andrew Meredith)
Craft lover Nicky Hartnell has come up trumps with this little fella. Seems like her love of ampersands might rival Fred & Eric’s as this is Nicky’s third submission to our blog. Find out more about Nicky and her crafty creations on her website I Love Making Stuff.
And a special mention to our intern Mateusz for his inventive photography!
Katie & Will (not that Kate and Will) have taken a break from their world of film and documentary making. Swapping live action for stills, they’ve illuminated Fred & Eric’s ampersand collection by light writing on long exposure photos behind an ampersand stencil.
Fred & Eric think the photographs are magical.
Happy New Year from F&E! And what better way to celebrate our first working day of 2012 with a new ampersand inspired by the glorious weather…
Whilst rummaging around the thrift stores in New York City, Jamie Pigram, Fred & Eric’s Head of Production discovered an unexpected gem. Hidden in a back street in the East Village, this rustic looking ampersand was waiting to be discovered by an eagle eye.
Now, just to find that vintage designer handbag…
Today’s ampersand comes from London based photographer, Andrew Meredith. Although the characters aren’t quite to brand… we are assured by Andrew he’s not trying to get rid of Eric.
The story goes that he spent a good few hours rummaging through a drawer of old type but alas, it seemed like there were slim pickings when it came to F’s. So he settled with another E. We’re just happy these lovely letters made him think of us and now we know which of F&E is Andrew’s favourite…