James Carbutt’s animation for The School of Life deals with the stigma surrounding being a virgin at age 20 and beyond and how we should probably get rid of those negative thoughts, along with “any other sexy stigmas”. The project came about after James emailed The School of Life asking to collaborate in some way and this animation is the second short he’s created for the education company.
When starting the project, James was most worried about drawing girls because he’s “dreadful” at it. “I also wanted to avoid leaning too heavily on a nerdy gamer virgin stereotype, so I did my best to keep the characters neutral and pretty simple,” explains James. “Hopefully this allows viewers to project themselves onto the characters and identify with them.”
Other challenges arose when it came to James needing to convey sex scenes without actually drawing people having sex – instead the animator adopted Tetris-inspired imagery adding a humorous and suggestive tone to the film. Starting each project by drawing and painting anything that pops into his head, this process of experimentation leads James to create loose storyboards and then progresses to animate using Photoshop and AfterEffects.
“The philosophy of the video concludes with the idea that ‘we should aim to build a society where we finally stop suffering so intensely around our sexuality’. I used this as inspiration for my process – building characters and scenes from Tetris-inspired assets I’d painted and scanned in previously,” explains James.
His style is naive and rough and conveys an innocence and openness that suits the film’s subject well. “I find I get most creative when I don’t worry myself too much about things looking polished,” says James on his approach and he’s stuck to a minimal palette of black, white and pink to create a sense of honesty. “I just tried to amplify the philosophy of Alain de Botton,” says James. “Essentially I tried to get across that it’s okay to not get laid until whenever you feel like it, or whenever you can.”
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