Illustrator Christopher DeLorenzo has brought to life the true story of how clothing brand Original Penguin came to find its mascot. In a charming black-and-white, line-drawn animation, Christopher and director Erez Horovitz, together with animator Andrew Embury, tell the tale set in 1955, of founder Abbot Peterson’s fateful night visiting a taxidermy shop.
“Basically a salesman named Abbot went out drinking to pass the time while his flight was delayed, and bought a taxidermied penguin,” explains Christopher. “Its head fell off on the flight and the stewardess reattached it, and the rest was history.” Original Penguin approached Christopher to make the animation, with free creative rein as long as he “stuck to the facts”. The illustrator took inspiration from “the butterfly effect that has been rippling for the past 50 years… how one random drunken night created a staple of American fashion.” In the short, Abbot stumbles through the city throwing back drinks, against a backdrop of buildings, billboards and blink-and-you’ll-miss-them details, such as a penguin emerging from a man-hole. “My favourite part is when the drinks slide in with the sports equipment,” says the illustrator. “That was the first scene we tested to figure out the flow and look to the whole video.”
The simple, charming images feature midcentury elements to reference the brand’s 50s beginnings. “We wanted an old look to it, hence the typewriter, black and white photos and sepia tone,” says Christopher. “We wanted Abbot to be kind-of overweight, because he was a travelling salesman in the 50s and probably having too many martini lunches. Not this handsome strapping Don Draper, but the guy usually sitting across from him at a meeting. Lovable, friendly, a man who would go on adventures with a stuffed penguin.”
The whole film was created in about a month, with Christopher drawing all the frames before Andrew animated them in a quick-paced and smooth sequence, telling the serendipitous and memorable story.