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Work / Animation

“I’ve landed on my planet now”: Sebaldo on refining his bonkers animated characters

Illustrator Sebaldo has had an on-off relationship with animation. His older work gave a glimpse into the strange places his imagination could go, yet was rougher round the edges. Feeling that the process of animating was getting in the way of him developing his style, he stopped animating altogether. But he couldn’t stay away. “As time went by, I started to really miss bringing my characters to life,” he says. “I got to a point where I had all these ideas floating around and I had to start animating again.”

What he didn’t expect was how much each practice could teach him about his approach to the other. Having used his sabbatical from animation to hone his crisply surreal style, returning to animation reined in his tendency to overdo things. “Sometimes I get lost in my shading in my illustration work, and actually I can finish and realise I’ve gone too far,” he explains. “But with animation, I can’t always spend so much time on detailed shading, so it makes me stop before I go too far.”

His subjects, he says, have become less strange. “I realised that I used to try really hard to be abstract and psychedelic, but I think it was because I wasn’t comfortable enough with my work, so I covered it up in quirkiness. I think my work is definitely still a bit weird but it’s my weird… I don’t animate people eating their own heads as much anymore. I really connected this year with who I am and what I like, not other people. I’ve landed on my planet now, where I know what everything is meant to look like and how it’s meant to behave, whereas when we last spoke I had only just landed after being in orbit for a while.”

His bonkers creations can be spotted in a Dominos advert, where pickles burst from a window inside someone’s head. His latest animation work also includes a sticker pack for Giphy called Flirty, featuring a group of embarrassing characters who are trying to flirt, but failing. One of the stars is Barbara, an eager New York tourist who Sebaldo says is “a basic lady who thinks she’s really fun and interesting but isn’t at all!” Others are inspired by terrible dancers at weddings he remembers being dragged along to as a child, and a classic LA roller skater, who he drew ages ago knowing there was “something really important in his bum bag, I just never knew what it was.”

“I really love the existence of mundane human life, I think it’s so funny,” he surmises. “I also love questioning the meaning of existence. Every day I look around and think, what the hell is this? It’s bloody crazy. So I’d say that my ideas have probably become a bit more boring, but I think boring is really interesting.”

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