Monday, 17 December 2012

The Quay brothers

Recently I have been introduced to this very interesting pair of artists, the identical twins Stephen and Timothy. They are most famous for their stop motion animated films, a medium they progressed into after many years as professional illustrators, producing drawings and etchings with the same dark visual language as their 3d puppets and sets. It is their ability to apply their style to many diverse mediums that has made them such inspirational figures for me. I can see them heavily influencing the direction I will choose to take my work after Christmas for my final major project.

I had already unwittingly seen their work in a short animated sequence in the film Frida, where skeletons are working in Frida's imagination when she is admitted to hospital. The crude style of the animation, and knowing that the artists themselves have created this with such a hands-on, caring approach really brings the objects being filmed to life. The light manipulation and sound in this example as well, is particularly effective, bringing the scene a claustrophobic and unsettling atmosphere. 
Still from animation sequence in Frida.
Another piece they are well known for is their film Street of Crocodiles, which is also very creepy and dark in tone. The marriage of the image and the soundtrack is clearly very important. In my mind I'm already trying to think of musicians I know who might wish to collaborate with me if I was to make my own animations in the near-future. It is interesting to learn that the Quay brothers prefer to work with pre-recorded music, which I assume must dictate to a large extent how they construct the narrative of their a book illustrator responding to words with their visuals, they respond to the music as well as the story.
A still from Street of Crocodiles.
Recently I have realised that for my own work to develop in a way that can allow my love of drawing and craft to most effectively co-exist, I need to start integrating them more closely, rather than simply throwing 2d and 3d elements together. I noticed immediately that the Quay brothers have achieved this quite seamlessly in their set pieces...
The prowess in illustration and calligraphy seeps increasingly into many formal elements in their later films, evident as graphic embellishment in the set decoration, or their particular use of patterns in the puppets' costume design.

I feel like I've struggled to find artists to aspire to, who employ craftsmanship and drawing skills into their work, so it's been very exciting to make this (very late) disovery. 

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