Remember those awkward years between teenage-hood and your early 20s? Well, now you can relive them with Jenny Jokela

Jenny Jokela talks us through her latest animation, exploring semi-autobiographical feelings of not quite fitting in.

20 March 2020


For the Finnish animator Jenny Jokela, the medium has always been a form of self therapy. When times have been hard, animation has provided a form of escape, somewhere she can create her own alternative world while expressing herself powerfully. First coming to the UK in 2009 to study fashion promotion and imaging, Jenny quickly realised that the subject was not for her. She started teaching herself how to animate as rest bite, experimenting with collaged images one step at a time.

It eventually led to a master’s degree from London’s Royal College of Art where she expanded her technical skill set, while introducing her to a new group of animators also looking to push their craft further. Ever since graduating in 2017, she’s been working full time as a self-employed animation director and illustrator, garnering clients from the likes of Channel 4, the Barbican and even the pinnacle of all animation, Disney. “I love that animation is limitless in what you can achieve,” continues Jenny, “whatever your idea or vision, it can be done, it’s just a question of whether you can problem solve your way through how to draw what you want.”

Skill can come later, thought Jenny, but it’s the determination to learn and the generation of good ideas that get you there in the first place. With this in mind, she embraced her naive, and ever so slightly wonky style of animating, and embarked on hand drawn animated adventures. It’s an aesthetic fully celebrated in Jenny’s latest film Live a Little. Written by a close friend Celia Hillo, the film explores those awkward years between teenage-hood and the early 20s when you “haven’t quite figured out what you want in life and aren’t quite fully confident in who you are.”

GalleryJenny Jokela: Live a Little

Jenny further explains, “Both Celia and I experienced feelings of not quite fitting in and feeling socially claustrophobic in our hometown of Helsinki.” Looking back on their early steps into adulthood with retrospect, the two friends fondly remember the old anxieties that seem funny now, as well as the silly behaviours from a distant time. They decided to make a film about this aspect of life, at the film’s core, playing out the moment you realise that other people’s opinions about you don’t matter so much, “as long as you know who you are and that you love yourself.”

With a tiny budget in their back pocket, €3000 to be precise – which may seem a lot, but really isn’t given the pain staking time animation sucks up – Jenny got to work on the film. She worked for about two months on the project full time, and another two on the side. Sketched out first with pencil on paper, then a layer of acrylic paint, unusually, Jenny made the short without an animatic nor a regular storyboard. Instead, she created a number of test GIFs which she timed in accordance with the voice over, before adding certain sound effects to further convey a certain atmosphere or emotion.

In turn, the end result is a joyful three-and-a-half-minute film brimming with humorous quirks and energetic brush strokes. The jolty movements only add to the expressiveness of each character, not to mention the nostalgic storyline of being a self conscious young person making their way in the world, albeit very clumsily. Full of hilarious observations, from “the sea of Adidas stripes” to the horror of leaving a party on your own, the fast paced short earned a very well deserved Vimeo staff pick earlier this month. So without further ado, what are you waiting for, give it a watch and above all, enjoy.

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Jenny Jokela: Live a Little

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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