It’s safe to say that Brooklyn-based animator John McLaughlin has created an aesthetic that is well and truly his. Scrolling on his Instagram page introduces you to a host of strange characters. Although varying in colour and movement, there is one thing unites them: huge eyes, triangular heads and fuzzy fur.
“Ahhh fuzzy dude,” John responds when asked who these soft, apparently highly skilled dancers are. “I’ve been creating some form of this character for about four or five years or so,” he explains. Although often asked what his or her name is, John insists “they don’t have a gender. I don’t think I ever want to give them a specific name. They’re just fuzzy dudes. That’s all.”
John explains how he’s been drawing since a very young age: “I went to a high school that required a portfolio to get into the arts program.” At this point, John was mainly working with oil paint or mixed media as digital art “wasn’t really a thing yet”. However, when at college, he enrolled in a digital new media course and fell in love with the idea “painting on the computer”, later combining his passions for computer arts and music learning to animate while studying motion design.
Although sometimes performing more mundane tasks, the fuzzy dudes can generally be found busting-a-move or cartwheeling across their mini-worlds. The inspiration for these impressively energetic movements can vary: “Sometimes I have a scenario in mind and I’m like, ‘how can I make them do this thing that makes sense for their world?’,” John explains. In other instances, however, it’s John’s hyper-awareness to abstract things like sounds or textures that can spark an idea. “From conversations I’ve overheard on a subway ride in New York to the textiles used to create clothes and furniture,” he describes.
In his professional practice, John works with brands, platforms and musicians with recent projects including a contribution to Beck’s video for Wow as well for clients such as Giphy and Tumblr. Although drawing regularly in sketchbooks, most of his work happens digitally on the computer. In the last couple of years, however, John has decided to return to making more physical art again. “I shopped an idea around to a few galleries and this year that will come to life as my first solo show at Cooler Gallery in April,” he explains.
Looking ahead, John is starting to explore what his fuzzy world looks like – both in real life and digitally. With ideas such as a television show, a book or even a virtual reality experience bouncing around, his upcoming show will be the first step towards representing it physically. “Hopefully people will join me,” he says, “and we can all see just how far it can go.”
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.