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.
Fred & Eric’s pet biscuit takes a dunk in our finest crockery.
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
The next in our installments of interviews comes from a long-standing Fred & Eric friend and collaborator, Lee Cooper. Lee specialises in character illustration and animation, and loves to inject his work with quirky humour.
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.
July’s interview comes from recent Ravensbourne Motion Graphics Graduate, Mateusz Napieralski. F&E first met Mateusz in March 2012 when he came in for an internship. He helped out on various projects, including creating this cracking (sorry) chick Ampersand pictured below for our Easter promotion. Through the rest of his university degree we’ve stayed in contact, inspired by his enthusiasm, creativity and unwavering motivation (as well as his ermm…. interesting Polish baking achievements). He’s been back to help us on various projects, notably as one of the human controllers for our Channel 4 Christmas Competition Spot, where the ever-professional Mateusz was an invaluable part of the team who helped create the live-action sequence. All shot in one take.
Having just graduated, we catch up with Mateusz on his chosen career path and ask his advice for new graduates hoping to get into the wonderful world of animation.
When and how did you decide that you wanted to be an illustrator and motion designer?
I never actually thought about motion design and I kind of fell into it by accident. I was doing a 2 year diploma in Graphics and Digital Arts in college, and I was always 100% confident that I wanted to be a graphic designer. It was not until I started applying for universities, I then discovered that there are illustration courses available. At the time I did not even realize how big the world of illustration is.
I applied for the graphic design course in the end, but when I went to my Ravensbourne interview, the lecturer referred me to the motion graphics course, as he felt my work was more suitable for that. I kind of “went with the flow” and started the motion graphics course without over thinking it.
When it comes to illustration, I never really thought about it, I was always just doing the work that was natural for me and what I enjoyed the most, and it turns out that illustration is a big part of it.
You have a very distinctive illustration style. What has shaped and influenced this?
I’m not entirely sure to be honest. I can only guess what triggers my subconscious mind, as I never feel that I’m inspired by a particular person or style. My grandma was head of the nursery back in Poland where I come from, and I would often wait for her to finish work in the nursery. She would not be done until very late afternoon, and I remember that she would always give me a pile of illustrated books
which I was flicking through for hours while waiting for her. Since then I’ve been in love with illustration and it kind of carried on throughout my life.
As a 90s kid, I grew up with Photoshop and all the Adobe tools. That definitely influenced my style and the way I work. I love to mix hand-made and digital and that definitely directly affects my visual style.
You also animate, what was the first animation you made and what do you think of it now?
Haha, I had not animated anything until my first year of university. This is my first ever moving image piece vimeo.com/20239911. Looking back at it now, it’s more of a “what can After Effects do” piece rather than an animation. It’s funny to see how limited and not illustrative at all that piece was. Obviously there are many things wrong with it, such as the pace of the whole thing, typographically, there’s a lot to improve, but I guess looking at this 3 years later it’s just nice to see how my work has evolved and how different it is now.
What are the challenges of creating designs and illustrations for animation as opposed to print?
I guess it’s the most obvious one, so how will this particular piece move, what dynamics should I give these shapes, how fast or how slow can they travel across the screen. I see illustration for print as one frame from an animation and you can just work on it for as long as you want, because you know that this is the only “frame” the viewer will be looking at. So you can really get “wild”. Whereas when it comes to illustrating for animation, I have to give myself time limits and make sure that I don’t overspend time on illustrating, because there is much more to consider than just one frame. It’s a whole load of frames where each of them has to be thought through.
How do you think the animation industry will evolve in the coming years?
It’s quite exciting to look at the amount of great work being produced right now. People are really brave with the digital tools, which are only getting better and better. We are now very comfortable with moving image, our attention span is dropping all the time, which means animators have to work harder and make the piece even more exciting to keep the viewer interested. Which is not a bad thing I don’t think, as it only pushes us even more and we get to be more creative, as this is what also attracts people. Things they haven’t seen before.
I think that animators will have to constantly learn more, it seems that today the border between 2 and 3D is getting smaller and smaller, which means that animators will be expected to be all-rounded, not even animators. I would call them artists. Artists that need to be ready to work with any given medium.
What tends to inspire you?
I really enjoy meeting and talking to other designers and creatives. I love attending all the design festivals, such as OFFF or OFFSET
they might seem quite “full on” and I’m actually quite exhausted towards end of a weekend filled with some of the best design on this planet, but in the long term, I can see how that affects me in a positive way and gives me a strong kick for a few months to keep making work and try to get better at it.
I also love nature and forests. Forests are usually good for inspiration. You can just smell it as soon as you walk into one.
Are there some areas of animation you would like to try out? What are they?
I would love to explore more of 3D which I haven’t really touched on. I’m interested in mixing 2 and 3D. I’d love to do something with live action. I want to see how my work would work with a human figure. I would also love to play with some props and see how I could fit animation somewhere between sets and props.
As a recent graduate, how are you and your peers finding the transition into the working world?
I think coming from Ravensbourne, graduates are equipped with industry ready skills and mindsets. Obviously we learn all the time, but the types of briefs we’re getting at uni are usually very industry focused, so when we leave we know what to expect from an employer.
What are your best resources for finding jobs?
Freelance jobs are usually coming in through word of mouth. I know that behance is a good place to be spotted, but I never actually used it. It might seem weird, but twitter is actually a great place to start too. The online world is filled with job opportunities. Websites such as ycn.org, designjobsboard.com or itsnicethatjobsboard.com are great, but I think that going to networking events, meeting real people will always be the way to goo to.
What would you like to achieve career-wise, in the next five years?
Woah! That’s a long time, no? For now, I’m working in a small animation studio, which is great, because I learn a lot of technical skills and how the industry works. It’s such a valuable experience. I’d like to carry on doing that for some time. I’m sure I’ll always be working on my self initiated projects on the side, developing my own style and trying out new things. Once I will feel confident enough about what I can offer, I’d love to enter the freelance world. The ultimate goal is to have my own practice which will be known for a specific style and approach. What will it be, I’m not sure, it seems like I need to visit some forests and stroke some foxes to find the answer…
Once I achieve it all, I will become a Polish superhero and give everyone lollipops with a Polish flag on it to make this world a better place…
Kicking off interview season is designer, director and animator Laura Hulme. A long-time friend and collaborator of Fred & Eric, her leafy ampersand (pictured) has already gone down a storm on our blog. Laura also worked on the animation and live-action elements for our GAVI campaign film for Save the Children.
Was there a defining moment in your life which made you choose animation as a career?
It was whilst at University where we had a visiting professional give a talk about VFX and motion graphics. He played a showreel and I was totally hooked - it was like a switch had just been turned on in my head. I then had the difficult task of working out how to become a designer and animator having just completed a 3 year television and film production course! In the end, I charmed my way into a few graduate design jobs and then learned everything on the job.
How do you come up with new and original ideas when working to a client brief?
I try to take influences from sources away from our industry including film, fashion, photography and literature. I am also a huge fan of brainstorming and discussing ideas in groups. Something I have noticed in many studios is that no time is given over to the discussion of ideas, and many people are expected to generate ideas in an isolated way. I enjoy collaborating with others, and I feel that this often results in stronger, more considered solutions.
What inspires your personal work?
Both the natural world and my love of music provide huge inspiration to me.
What design and animation programs do you work in and is there a particular one you’d like to learn?
I use all the Adobe Creative Cloud programs, and Cinema 4D. As much as I would love to cram another piece of software into my brain, I prefer to try and develop less software-centric skills, encouraging creative thinking and idea generation. You can’t beat a good doodling session!
You recently returned to the world of freelancing after a full-time stint. What would you say are the pros and cons of freelance vs full-time?
Full time jobs give you a chance to become a trusted and established member of a team, and often you are able to experiment with ideas in a supportive environment. Downsides include having no control of the types of jobs you are asked to do and not fully being in control of your career path. This is why I left my full time job to set up my company - it is a riskier option, but I really enjoy the level of personal responsibility that comes with working for yourself.
When self-employed, at worst you are just another hired pair of hands without much regard for your creative input. At best, it can be the most fantastic collaboration of minds and ideas which is very rewarding!
You are capable of producing many different styles, has there been a natural progression or do you like to pick and choose as you go?
I started my career in a live television environment where content differed on every job and this is how I developed a skill for versatility. I unashamedly like using bright colours and strong graphical compositions. I think these traits are present in a lot of my work, but of course I have to adapt it on a per-job basis and be sympathetic to the clients needs.
What’s it like operating as a female animator in a predominantly male-dominated industry?
Generally, it is not a problem and I have found that my male colleagues welcome the presence of female designers and animators
in the studio. However, I think there is a major lack of women in senior creative roles. Is it important that there is more of a balance in gender? I passionately believe that it is - and that female designers and animators can often look at a communication problem in a different way to men. The best way to solve this is for women to be more enterprising, create our own opportunities, and support other female designers and animators coming through the ranks.
What would be your dream project?
I would love to design the opening titles to a feature film or a heavyweight TV-drama.
Do you have any advice for new, aspiring animators?
Of course it goes without saying that you should strive to excel in your chosen craft. However, being nice, well-mannered, and honest are some of the most commercially viable qualities you can have as an animator. Leave your ego at the door, embrace criticism, and be a team player.
How do you think the animation industry will change and progress in the coming years?
Currently I am seeing a move away from traditional delivery formats (like television) and the opportunities to create content for a wide range of surfaces are increasing rapidly. I have just finished a project creating content for a stadium tour delivering content forhuge (and irregular sized) LED screens. Projects such as live events, theatre productions, and digital delivery formats are all presenting new and exciting challenges for animators. With such saturation and demand for content, budgets will be stretched to breaking point- our challenge is to continue producing high-end quality content in the most efficient way possible to make those budgets still count!
Laura’s website: www.laurahulme.com
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
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:
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!
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.
The very talented Katie Wharton has followed up her ampersand book with a beautiful embroidered cushion. Going a step further and creating Fred & Eric’s entire logo by hand!
Katie’s creation is making F & E want to curl up with a cup of tea under their desks as summer draws to a close. Now where did we put those hobnobs….
No… it’s not Fred or Eric’s birthday, but they still love presents! Especially ampersand shaped ones courtesy of Paul Campbell.
Eagle eyed visitors to the blog may recognise its form underneath that lovely wrapping, as Paul’s previously posted concrete ampersand. Which inspired us to reprise it for September’s banner.
Follow Paul’s world of concrete and tips on wrapping unusual shaped presents on Twitter @pauljcampbell
What better way to mark the first day of August, than with a brilliant new ampersand creation by Katie Wharton. We are assured she fully studied her Latin text book before cutting it up in her homage to the ampersand’s humble origins.
Katie’s design was inspired by tracing the history of this much loved character to the first century AD, where it was originally a ligature of the letters e and t (‘et’ being Latin for 'and’ if you slept through your Latin lessons).
The finished product is a result of carving through the book using a mixture of machinery and hand carving, alongside a lot of patience and dedication. This mutual love for the ampersand hasn’t gone unappreciated, as it is now sitting in the top spot of Fred & Eric’s book shelf. Thanks Katie!
Katie is currently studying at Nottingham Trent University. Follow Katie on Tumblr here.
Thea Morris has constructed our very first origami ampersand! Fred & Eric have great appreciation of the patience that has gone into this design, after spending the week making paper creations of their own.
We are pleased to welcome Thea’s Ampersand into the fold!
Fred & Eric have that summery feeling, which has happily coincided with Nicky Hartnell’s latest ampersand submission. It’s her second contribution to the blog, the first being a knitted ampersand. Fred & Eric think Nicky’s crafty creations might be strongly influenced by the weather!
Follow Nicky and her world of crafty lovliness on her Tumblr Blog, i love making stuff
Photographed in Corfu, Greece.
A heavy contender for ampersand of the month already, pictures of Paul Campbell’s concrete ampersand have just arrived at Fred & Eric’s feet. We think it would make the perfect doorstop, if we can ever lift it out of the garden…..
Paul currently works as a Commercial Digital Delivery Manager at Guardian Group (not a concrete sculptor as you may have suspected). Find out more on his website or follow Paul’s world of web geekery on Twitter @pauljcampbell
Laura Hopewell Wins June’s ampersand race! Taking top position as our latest logo design.
Fred & Eric have been keeping Laura’s hand-cut ampersand design under their top hats for a few weeks. When this dropped through our letter box we knew it was going to be the front-runner for June’s banner design, so we’re pleased to finally unveil it.
Now the only question is, whose desk will it get to go on?
Laura is currently studying Graphic Design at NTU and you can see examples of her work and follow her Tumblr at demographic.tumblr.com