Illustrator Brian Rea frequently collaborates with Pablo Delcan from Delcan & Co in New York. In the run up to the US Presidential Election, Pablo got in touch with Brian a few days before the big day to create some responsive shorts. “Like everyone else, I was so fucking exhausted from the campaign cycle, but we thought perhaps that’s the thing we could comment on; how much the campaign had impacted us all emotionally, how messages had divided us as a country and how that left us all feeling scared, alone, anxious, angry and embarrassed by what was going down,” explains Brian who also illustrates The New York Times’ regular column Modern Love.
Brian and Pablo made a list of ideas and then Brian set to work drawing. “We created all the animated gifs in real time – I worked on the drawings and Pablo worked on the motion/timing and delivery,” says the illustrator. “We probably made three to five finished shorts each day from Saturday till Tuesday and spaced them out based on time of day, news, and how our desperation, exhaustion and anxiety were either up or down.”
Each one was posted on Instagram and the final short in the series is a solemn reaction to the results, and sees a character opening a blind, followed by a bird flying down to the window sill. “We discussed a few other options, but landed on this reflective piece. Hopefully it helped people feel like they weren’t alone in this nightmare.”
Post-election Brian felt “stuck and hopeless” at first, but now has a more positive outlook. “It sucks to be standing on the sidelines of your life waiting for things to get worse. But I won’t do that anymore. I sense people here in the States are trying to find something that brings us back together – and I know the world is hoping this happens too.”
Brian describes his style as “quiet and obsessive drawings with emotional storytelling” and these shorts demonstrate his ability to convey such big themes in just a few basic frames. While he hasn’t created any more animations since the result was announced it’s something he’d like to do: “I love this 15 second format, it’s just such a simple way to tell a singular story.”
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