Ones to Watch 2017: illustrator and animator Jack Sachs
It’s Nice That’s Ones to Watch is our chance to showcase 12 creatives who we think will be making an impact in 2017. The people featured have been whittled down from a global pool of creative talent and have been chosen for their ability to consistently produce inspiring and engaging work. Each one practices across a diverse range of disciplines and continually pushes the boundaries of their creative output. Ones to Watch 2017 is supported by Uniqlo.
We caught up with each of our Ones to Watch, to talk about their work so far and their hopes for the year to come.
For Jack Sachs, 2016 was one of those years where everything he touched turned to gold. Both Jack’s animated MTV idents and his ad for Maynards Bassetts exemplified his adeptness for crazy CG characters getting their groove on. His illustrations for The New York Times, Zeit, Lucky Peach and Bloomberg Business Week showed how his uniquely pop-coloured, plasticine-like illustrations are just as hilarious in print. And his bigger projects, including the virtual protagonists of Greg Barth’s music video for Red Axes, and his more recent piece for Tate Britain SHHH!, where his animated creations invaded the gallery, displayed a knack for narrative and adaptability to almost any brief. All this from a guy who says he never originally liked computer graphics.
“I studied illustration at Camberwell, and it was more about the arty, art school approach. My work was all pen and paper and I never had any interest in animation or CG.” Then at the start of his third year, an accident at a party caused Jack to seriously damage the nerves in his drawing hand. “They said I might not be able to draw for a long time. I had to have six months of physiotherapy. So in the meantime I started to play around with CG. And now it’s pretty much my job!”
The silver lining to such a badly-timed incident was that Jack found his niche. “I always loved drawing but my work was rough, weird and quick. It always felt unfinished, like there was no narrative. I had hundreds of ideas that never really came to anything. The nature of CG is that it feels finished and perfect, and you can make it move and give it a story. I still draw all the time, but that feeds into what I make on the computer.”
Now, this aesthetic is what Jack is known for – surreal, sugary graphics that simultaneously parody and celebrate the best of internet art. Take for example, his cover for Bloomberg Business Week: it expertly captured the crazed persona of Clippy, the irritating paperclip assistant from Windows 97, and made it into a transformer in a Tron landscape, all in a Playdough colour scheme. Similarly, his spot for The New York Times, featuring a surly heart character, slouching on a sofa with a cigarette jammed into one of its arteries, expertly treads the line between disturbing and hilarious.
The personalities he creates really come to life in his animations. Earlier this year he was commissioned by Wieden + Kennedy to direct and animate an ad for Maynards Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts, and the result was a jolly range of sweeties with manic smiles, bopping in mundane everyday environments. This used motion tracking, something Jack has been experimenting with further in the Tate Britain project to allow his humorous characters to take over real-life spaces.
Jack Sachs: Inside Ya Hand for Pick Me Up
Jack Sachs: Inside Ya Heart for Pick Me Up
“Whenever I have an empty patch I learn a new skill,” he says. “CG is an infinite world. You can never stop learning, and it gives you new ideas. What’s led me to this point is learning things I want to do, not in a prescribed way, so there are gaps, but it’s a more laid back approach.”
Having had such a busy year, Jack says he’s kicking off the new year by focusing on drawing again, aiming to restock on ideas, and do more editorial work as well as more for MTV. “Last year settled into my distinct way of illustrating. There are things that started to reappear across my work, and I realised which characters I like the most,” he laughs. “I feel like I’ve honed a more succinct language, rather than making everything different every time. With 3D there’s so many variables, you have to have something that ties it all together.” With such a thirst for the new, and a refined sense of his own practice, expect even bigger things from Jack in 2017.