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The Planets: Interview with Andy Martin

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Andy Martin is an animator, illustrator and music maker based in London. He has worked in the industry for over ten years with the likes of Kerrang! And Santander.

As well as his commissioned work, Andy has taken on a personal project which consists of creating a new character every day, then animating the lovable critter in their own custom-built planet. Each month a new planet is developed, created and inhabited with a different style and set of characteristics.

If you look at the blog of this creative individual you will see a digital sketchbook brimming with ideas and passion for animation and the arts in general.  Andy works in many and any material he can get his hands on, delivering a highly energetic and imaginative outcome to all his projects.  This guy is always up to something.

The project started in January and with monthly installments the Vimeo channel and blog are drawing an audience which we at Skwigly are a part of. We took the opportunity to talk to Andy about this project:

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I am originally from Sheffield. I moved down to London in 1997 to study at Ravensbourne (where I still do some tutoring with the Moving Image students every so often). After graduating I worked at a production company called ‘Addiction’ for 4 years before leaving to become a freelance designer/animator. I worked with various companies doing a wide verity of work. I signed with ‘Strange Beast’ a few years ago as an animation director where I do most of my commercial work these days.

Where does the diversity of your work come from, and why do you have so many different ways of working?

I guess I have lots of different interests. I try and take each project separately and design something that suits what needs to be communicated. I’ve always thought of my stuff as character lead, with humour and a musical sensibility.

What inspired “the planets” project?

I wanted to get back to drawing in my sketchbook. Over the past couple of years I found I was working more and more on the computer so I set myself a daily character design project. Towards the end of January I has a few days spare so I decided to make a small animation out of the characters I’d done. It was going to be a one off but it’s spiralled out of control a bit!

 

Pages from Andy Martins Sketchbook

Pages from Andy Martins Sketchbook

What was the thought process behind the change in style between each planet?

It just developed that way. When I started I didn’t have a fixed plan on how it was going to pan out. After Planet One was super colourful I decided to limit the colours for Planet Two and then each month I’ve tried to set myself limits and rules for the character design. The backgrounds and other illustration/animation elements evolve out of the character designs, usually about a third of the way through the month.

Character from The planet 6

Character from The planet 6

You’re very busy, how do you have time to work on this as well?

Some months are tougher than others, depending on what paid work I have to do and how complicated the planet animation is. I do the illustrations first thing in the morning and then the animation is fitted in when I can spare the time. I try not to work late nights as I find you can make mistakes and take double the time because of tiredness.

How long is the project set for?

The whole of this year, in the end I should have 12 planets, an animated galaxy.

Who creates the sound and music for your ‘planet suite’?

I do all the sound and music myself. I try to do that for a lot of my projects as it a fun element to work on. I get to play with my guitars and synths for an afternoon or so.

Have you enjoyed the planets project so far? And when it’s finished, what do you plan do next?

I have enjoyed making the Planets. It’s been a challenge to keep coming up with new characters and ideas for the animations but it’s also been fun. I’m able to explore different styles and techniques keeping it interesting for me and hopefully the people who follow the project. When I’m finished I’m going to put a big edit of them together (with a twist) and maybe send it to festivals and such like.

The next big project is already in production. It’s a stop motion animated short film about a pretentious old movie director who only goes by the name Mr. Director. It’s done as an art’s documentary, interviewing him about his life with scenes from his back catalog of films cut in. I’ve set up a website for it but it will be a while before it’s done.

You can follow this Project on Andy’s Vimeo channel The Planets as well as the accompanying blog.

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