“It doesn’t matter how I’m expressing myself as long as I’m staying creative. It’s the only thing that gives me any peace. If I didn’t spend most of my time daydreaming about stories and cartoons, I’d probably go insane.”
We talked to video artist Andrew William Ralph about his creative process, his colorful and graphic sketched 2D animations and about hearing music, seeing art, making love.
You are a video artist foremost but you also double as director, writer and an artist, painting and drawing. How all these creative outlets express who you are?
I think it’s very beneficially for any artists to have multiple talents they enjoy exercising. I also find that when I take a break from drawing to focus on writing or painting, when I come back to drawing my sketches have taken on a new form, like my style evolved subconsciously. It doesn’t matter how I’m expressing myself as long as I’m staying creative. It’s the only thing that gives me any peace. If I didn’t spend most of my time daydreaming about stories and cartoons, I’d probably go insane.
Why video as a creative escape/profession?
From a young age I wanted to make cartoons, but as I got older and was exposed to films like Gummo and Trainspotting, my interests turned to directing. Funny thing is, it wasn’t until I started combing both my passions for art and film by using rotoscoping that I started to actually get paid to do this stuff.
“I’m always looking for new ways to tell the same old stories, either by mixing in new mediums like paint or special effects or by going out and filming something with a fresh perspective.”
Most of your work as a distinct signature, the colorful and graphic sketched 2D animations. Why do you use them on your videos?
I went to art school for animation but dropped out when the program started to switch from tradition animation to all 3D. It was the kids that could actually draw that stuck to the old school art forms, where the ones that couldn’t hold a pencil gravitated towards computers. Our brains just work differently. I will always enjoy Looney Tunes over Pixar. I still don’t think computers will ever be able to replicate the human touch. When I started mixing paint and color into my animations, it gave it a very psychedelic look which I really enjoyed.
You’ve directed and were involved in a variety of projects, from music videos to fashion, from cinema to TV Commercials, among others. What was your favorite project to be involved with?
One of my favorites was for an amazing singer, Alex Winston, it was just a lyric video but I think it really stands on its own. I told Alex that I wanted to do something pretty sexy with her song “Careless” and that I would need her to pose in a number of seductive positions so that I could paint and draw over her. It was like life drawing from a nude, so I gave her a bunch of references of classic erotic paintings to get inspired by. The colors are so vibrant in the video because I imagine that’s the way the synapses in our brains look when they fire off during an orgasm.
Walk us through your creative process. Where does it all begin?
Cell by cell animation takes a lot of patience. Sometimes it can take an hour to draw one second of detailed animation. I also like to leave room for my art to organically transform while I’m working so there isn’t a lot of room for edits when I’m done. Bands know that they have to trust me when I start because you can’t just cut a scene or replace it with another shot after all the work is complete. I’m always looking for new ways to tell the same old stories, either by mixing in new mediums like paint or special effects or by going out and filming something with a fresh perspective.
What is the current project you are working on at the moment?
I just finished my 4th video for this cool band, Sego, and I have a few options to pick from next. Since I’m usually shooting, editing, and animating the videos, it can take up to a month to finish one. I always need a little time in between projects to rest my left hand and feel refreshed. I’m also looking into starting an agency that specializes in social media content. I’d really like to get more work on the fashion side of things.
For a music video, how do come up with the ideas? Do you talk to the band to see their thoughts or listen to the song and come up with your vision first?
I try and always begin with the band to find out what the meaning is for them behind the lyrics. Even if the video has nothing to do with the song, it’s a good place to start. Sometimes a band can’t even imagine what a video will look like for their music because they only hear it, and in that case I always keep a long list of concepts and stories and images I’ve collected over the years to draw ideas from. One of the things I love most about music videos is that there is so much freedom and room for experimentation.
“One of the things I love most about music videos is that there is so much freedom and room for experimentation.”
What´s the best life lesson so far?
I keep myself open to as many perspectives as possible, constantly reading, watching, listening, learning. I’m constantly searching for connections, not just for new opportunities, but more like the ones that remind you how small the world is and how connected everything is.
The most important thing in life for you is?
I need to be exposed to as much stimulation as possible. It’s what gets my creativity flowing, so I guess the most important thing would be my senses. I was born without a sense of smell and because of this I think that all my other senses are enhanced. Hearing music, seeing art, making love, and eating good food are the best things in life.
Interview by Vanessa da Silva Miranda
portfolio – www.cargocollective.com/visilvamiranda
blog – www.thebohofillediaries.com