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.