Interview with Tobias Rud
Being & Feeling (Alone, Together)
Spring 2020 – Virtual Exhibition at Lamont Gallery
Artists in Being & Feeling (Alone, Together) explore embodiment, emotion, and being: how we make our way through the world, full of feeling, as solitary individuals and together with others.
Tobias Rud is an animator and filmmaker from Copenhagen, Denmark, living and working in Canada. Rud’s hand-drawn animated videos explore belonging, nostalgia, and memory.
Q: Please tell us a little more about your process for creating animations. I see that “Sweetie O’s” was hand drawn. Can you explain this process? Do you use any unusual materials when creating your work? What tools and/or programs would you suggest for students interested in trying animation?
A: The animation of Sweetie O’s is all pencil and paper, so very lo-fi in that sense. Coloring was done digitally. I really like working analogue, but since it’s so time-consuming I rarely do it. For students I would recommend trying it, since it’s a great way to learn and get to really understand how animation works. Much like analogue photography vs. digital; it forces you to be patient in getting it right and it’s less forgiving. It’s a great process to line-test drawings and seeing the animation you have just worked on played back to you. And if things need fixing then actually get out the eraser and change stuff the hard way. Otherwise Adobe animate or Photoshop are usually the programs I use, and both are pretty accessible.
Q: Do you use a storyboard to plan out your animations or do you have a different process when to starting an animation?
A: For short films I do make storyboards and edit them together in an animatic with sounds, music and everything included for reference. That way I can see if something only makes sense in my head and doesn’t actually work out in real life. Usually that’s how it starts. Followed by a minor crisis of it not being as good as I thought it would. But then sleeping on it, rewatching it and doing several changes to it, might make it work after a while. So without an animatic I’m afraid the film will never be elevated from that first unsuccessful draft. For small comics or animations I might do for social media and such, I usually don’t have the patience for an animatic, so I just go straight ahead and let it be whatever it turns out to be.
Q: Your work has a hand-drawn uniqueness; and simultaneously many of the stories are universally understood. Do you think leaving the artists hand in the work is important, or would the stories be as well served created completely digitally?
A: Good question, I think it really depends on the type of story and what it needs in terms of medium to be told the best way possible. I do love hand-drawn things with lots of personality, and I tend to gravitate towards that in my own art consumption. I didn’t have an art background myself but started out in live-action filmmaking, and I do see my “artistic hand” as one of my weaknesses as an animator. So when it comes down to it, I am all about the storytelling. If I have an idea that could be told and acted out with socks on my hands while videotaping it, then that would be great too – As long as there’s personality in there. I always feel that the work that speaks to me the most, is the work where you can feel that a human made it. Pixar animations can be great in their own ways, but they all look the same and I’m never quite sure whether a human was ever involved. So yes, the artists “hand” is important to me, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be hand-drawn to be human. I think personality can shine through in many different forms and mediums.
Q: What other artists do you admire and cite as influences? Do you have any favorite cartoons?
A: Don Hertzfeldt is a big hero of mine. If you don’t know his work I will highly recommend checking it out! I remember watching “Its such a beautiful day” before I was even into animation and it rocked my world that a film could look like that. It inspired and motivated me a lot, that if this dude can make something so beautiful, funny and profound all by himself, just drawing matchstick men with pencil and paper, then I can too! (obviously I can’t do what he does, but even the principle that it can be done is very motivating).
Q: Given the choice, who would you like to collaborate with? Would it be a writer, a director, sound effects wizard, another animator?
A: All would be great! Not sure if you are looking for names, that might be a tough one, but generally sound wizards are extremely helpful. Especially since animation is such a blank canvas when it comes to sound. No on-location recordings or real-life visuals to match with. There’s so much potential and no limitations on what animation can sound like.
Q: If time and money were no issue, what classic story would you like to adapt? How would you change it? For example, would you adapt it to tell the story from a less well-known characters point of view?
A: I haven’t thought of that before! I would probably go for a classical children’s story. Where the Wild Things Are is one of my favorites, so maybe I’d create an animated version of that, if it doesn’t already exist. It could even be from the perspective of a wild thing getting to know this new weird unhairy creature called Max.
Q: Do you have any pets that might be inspirational to your work?
A: Unfortunately, not! I used to have a dog many years ago, but however lovely she was I don’t think I can credit her in much of my work.
Interviewed Conducted by Jennifer Benn
Jennifer Benn has been a Lamont Gallery attendant since 2015. She is also a professional painter with a studio at the Button Factory in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She earned her MFA in painting from Syracuse University and has led programs for students to study art and culture in Ireland at the Burren College of Art. Jennifer teaches abstract painting at Maine College of art and offers private lessons at her studio.