The anatomy of imperfection: Inside Stefano Colferai’s playful stop motion animations of everyday life

Nose picking, battling FOMO, making peanut butter and jelly, and attempting the headstand. The artist-animator makes the everyday playfully surreal.

7 May 2024

The work of Stefano Colferai makes light of life’s imperfections. Moments that are otherwise fleeting; the disruptive irks, shoddy attempts at the mundane, and the quirks performed only behind closed doors. The things that we convince ourselves are unique, but after conversation we learn we’ve all tried. Like that moment you find out that your friends too sucked on their flannel or wash cloth unprovoked, as a kid; the realisation that most people find it impossible to quiet the mind during meditation; and that the fear of missing out can feel like an unrelenting weight. Whatever it may be, the artist and stop motion animator freezes the frame on one condition: the inescapable human one.

Living and working from Milan, Italy, Stefano began trying his hand at plasticine ten years ago after realising he wanted to add more depth to his 2D illustration works. “I decided to move forward to 3D, but was too lazy to learn how to use softwares on a computer,” he tells us. So, along with his passion for crafts, he began sculpting his ideas with clay and taking photos of them. Before he knew it, this kind of “simulation” began to emerge and the characteristics behind his motif became clearer. One of these focuses was in deciding not to zone in on the same subject – as can become popular when working with plasticine – but rather creating continuity by honouring his love for particular themes such as food and portraiture. “I wanted to show that my imagination is specific, but large and not strict,” he adds.


Stefano Colferai: Exploring new worlds (Copyright © Stefano Colferai, 2024)

For Stefano, there is a preliminary process to his works that requires him to take heed of his surroundings; an artist tethered to his notebook, finding inspiration everywhere – “during a walk, while driving the car, in the shower, or while running”, he tells us. But what’s so interesting is that all the majority of his work doesn’t reflect the scenic qualities of a bike ride, run or drive, they’re overwhelmingly documented in the studio, surrounded by his tools. Perhaps because he wants to honour the surroundings where the idea is fully actualised; where he spends days creating the characters and animating their expressions.

This process starts quite directly, straight after he has taken down the ideas. “I don’t like to leave time for me to lose excitement,” he shares, “I try to grab it and give it shape as soon as I have the chance”. After he sculpts the props, he begins moving them frame by frame, taking pictures with his camera on a tripod and connecting them to the software permitting him to see how it moves and how the animation is going. And although he finds the animation portion of the process to be the most challenging, due to its time consuming nature and the close attention it requires, he also decides to lean into the magic of it. “It’s magic and the most fun, because after a few frames you begin to give life to your creations, you get to see everything you’ve created with your hands, move,” he adds.

All in all, Stefano’s mission is to imbue a lightheartedness and joy to the everyday. Each animation is like a short story, a glaring attempt at communicating all that he sees. But most importantly he just wants to make people smile. “I’m really happy with what I’ve created when people tell me: you’ve made my day. This, for me, gives meaning to everything I do.”


Stefano Colferai: Feeling the breeze (Copyright © Stefano Colferai, 2022)


Stefano Colferai: Fomo (Copyright © Stefano Colferai, 2022)


Stefano Colferai: Heavy head (Copyright © Stefano Colferai, 2022)


Stefano Colferai: I'm back bitches (Copyright ©Stefano Colferai, 2023)


Stefano Colferai: Meditating (Copyright © Stefano Colferai, 2023)


Stefano Colferai: Peanut Butter & Jam (Copyright © Stefano Colferai, 2024)


Stefano Colferai: Ready to leave (Copyright ©Stefano Colferai, 2023)


Stefano Colferai: The last of Us (Copyright © Stefano Colferai, 2023)


Stefano Colferai: You know who (Copyright © Stefano Colferai, 2024)

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Stefano Colferai: Approaching VR (Copyright ©Stefano Colferai, 2022)

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About the Author

Yaya Azariah Clarke

Yaya (they/them) joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in June 2023 and became a staff writer in November of the same year. With a particular interest in Black visual culture, they have previously written for publications such as WePresent, alongside work as a researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.

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