Back last Autumn Spanish fashion label Custo Barcelona invited me to produce an animated short for their new kids line Custo Growing. The films protagonist was to be SUKI, a character I’d developed for their women’s line in 2005 and I'd worked with in collections for them up until around 2008. After dropping off the radar for a while Suki is enjoying a little revival with Custo Growing, producing soft toys and accessories as well as appearing in their clothing line. The character is based on my first daughter Frenchie and she’s felt like one of the family for a while now so I’m happy to see her revived and enjoying a new home.
Suki’s development as a character has run somewhat parallel to Frenchie's development as a child and i’ve always drawn on her experiences when working with Suki. The infatuation kids have with growing up, being bigger, and the speed at which they achieve this has rubbed off on me in my keenness to see Suki grow too. I find it hard working on old themes, ones I feel the character has now grown out of because running parallel to my ideas are the real desires of the real child who is the inspiration for Suki. They must grow together. It’s a fascinating, exciting experience witnessing kids grow up and as we all grow as creatives too, other than a quick glance over the shoulder to remind ourselves of who we really are there’s no looking back. That’s my attempt at a link to introducing my chosen title for the film which was ‘Keep On Growing’...
some earlier incarnations of the SUKI character
I wrote, thumbnailed, and then storyboarded the film over a few days towards the end of the summer. There are 5 main scenes each dealing with a momentous event in Suki's development and setting her on the path to fulfillment. Suki’s journey from birth is loosely based on the Chinese legend of Sun Wukong the monkey king who traveled to the west in search of enlightenment. Through the film she learns the value of friendship, ecology, having a good time, expressing yourself, and projecting yourself in a loving and positive way. The final scene culminates in the design of a Custo Growing T shirt which Suki wears as she is drawn up to the sun, finding true enlightenment.
The thumbnails scrawled frantically whilst on my exercise bike were tidied up into a more cohesive storyboard
In order to get the most out of the film’s budget i set out to produce 15 images from the film to license to Custo Growing. This meant working 15 images into the storyboard which could then work independently from the film. Coming at this film as an illustrator first, i found visualising 15 scenes and then working my storyboard around them to be a good way of getting to grips with the bones of the storyboard. If i may, I recommend storyboarding as a great tool for forcing out a series of images for use as a collection of images for a wide range of disciplines. It has worked well for me in producing this collection for use in fashion and i’ll be using this method again and again. It really forces the mind open to expand the possibilites of how far and to where you can take an illustration.
Stills from Keep On Growing
Budget allowed for just over 1 minutes animation and I asked the amazingly talented team at MUTADO to work their magic and thankfully they said ‘Si’. Mauro, Davide, Vincenzo, and all at MUTADO a BIG THANKS!
The film was used to launch Custo Growing at a press party in Barcelona on the 16th December. It is in cinemas in Barcelona and Madrid showing before features, is a giveaway in the store, and will be on the catwalk globally.
Thanks everyone for your kind comments regarding La Vuelta Del Super Barrio.
I am pretty sure that will be my first and last short though. The workload is huge in making an animated short and funding is scarce these days which in turn cuts the team down and means more hours in the studio.
We had 3 animators that worked on the film with us in flash and they converted my bitmap character images to vector for the character animations and another animator who comped for us. Other than most of the character animation i drew everything else myself. I think i spent around 3 months solid designing and working up the backgrounds and characters parallel to the storyboarding and animatic. So i was working in house directing, designing, and animating at the same time. I remember spending around 2 months of solid 14 hour days including most weekends when we were at full pace and had 2 days off for the birth of our first daughter in the middle. Which if you ask anyone else who's made a studio short that's how they go.You need to be an obsessive, insomniac maniac with very very patient friends and family. I'm still interested very much in character and background work but the whole shabang demands way too much sacrifice from everyone. But i had to try it.
I have included some of the background work to the film on my website if anyone is interested. There are some sketchbooks and earlier character designs along with some background artwork and character sheets.
Back in the heady days of living, loving, and learning in London long before kids, garden sheds, and moving to Italy i made a short film. Which someone has just put up on youtube. God bless you stranger. I designed, co-wrote, and co-directed this 10 minute short with a good friend of mine video artist Bob Jaroc and production company Slinky Pictures. Super Barrio is a real life larger than life Mexican political activist, peoples hero, and over weight wrestler. He used the popular medium of wrestling in order to communicate his political ideas to the popular masses and give ground level support to the victims of the 1985 mexican earthquake. In the end title sequence there are some interesting photos of Super Barrio kitted up in his wrestling costume in the presence of The likes of Fidel Castro and Noam Chomsky. The film is Spanish language with English subtitles and was voiced by Super Barrio himself. It contains actual audio recorded especially for your listening pleasure at genuine mexican wrestling matches. Apologies in advance for any foul mouthed wrestling fans that got past our Spanish phrase book knowledge of the language.