Ride the Emotional Rollercoaster of Entrepreneurship in Siqi Song’s Series of Stop-Motion Animations
Los Angeles-based animator and director Siqi Song has a knack for capturing the nuances of relationships and social situations. Her critically acclaimed animated shorts like “SISTER” and “THE COIN” tap into family histories and personal stories from the relatable perspective of stop-motion, felted wool characters. In a new series of shorts commissioned by It’s Nice That for Mailchimp Presents, Song dives into the world of entrepreneurship in All in a Day’s Work.
Song directed six of the series’ twelve episodes, which run between two to three minutes each and feature a cast of six small business owners who find themselves on an emotional, enterprising rollercoaster. A florist’s new employee struggles with hay fever in “First Hire,” a baker working through the night resists falling asleep in “Unstoppable Rise,” and a finely-tuned Zoom setup comes crashing down during an important call in “Silicon Valley Legends.”
To make the films as internationally relatable as possible, dialogue was removed entirely. “Without language, the characters can only express their emotion in the stories through body language and facial expressions,” Song explains. For anyone who has launched a product, grappled with time management, or stepped outside their comfort zone to pursue a dream, Song’s animations demonstrate the universal ups and downs of a courageous journey.
You can watch all of the films, including an additional six episodes by creative studio BUCK, on Mailchimp Presents. Find remarkable behind-the-scenes footage on Song’s website, and discover her painstakingly crafted miniature sets, storyboards, and characters.
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A Cast of Felted Food, Animals, and Other Characters by Manooni Exude Joy and Goodwill
Olha and Hanna Dovhan (previously) are the creative minds behind the adorable felt sculptures of Manooni. Whimsical and endlessly cheerful, the small family units, pairs of pears, and coupled avocados are needle felted with wool and finished with tiny grins.
Based in Ukraine, the Dovhans have spent the majority of the war in Lviv, although their mother, who is also part of the Manooni team, remains with family members in the now Russia-occupied Zaporizhzhia region. The sisters brought some of their materials with them to finish projects that were already underway and have been raising money for Ukrainians in need via Patreon. “Unfortunately, the war is not over, and we can’t leave behind people who are suffering from this terrible invasion,” Olha tells Colossal.
You can support Manooni’s work by shopping available pieces on Instagram.
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Curious Squirrels and Rambunctious Hares Form a Miniature Menagerie of Felted Wildlife
From a shy baby fox to toads donning crowns, the felted miniatures crafted by Simon Brown and Katie Corrigan are adorable, whimsical renditions of forest creatures. The Northumbria, U.K.-based creative duo transforms thick rovings of wool into wildlife that can be found perching on a snowy branch or creeping up on a mouse through the grass-like bristles of a wooden brush. Brown tells Colossal that he plans to incorporate more found objects into the newer sculptures, which are increasingly illustrative in style, and is also working on developing automata to add a liveliness to the realistic characters. See more of the pair’s process on Instagram.
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Merry Christmas, Happy New Year: A Stop-Motion Music Video Tells the Warm and Fuzzy Story of Woodland Friends
Illustrator Phoebe Wahl and animator Andrea Love teamed up to gift us with a delightful stop-motion short full of cozy felted sweaters, wooly swirls of steam puffing from teacups, and (too much) snow just in time for the holidays. The whimsical animation is the music video for “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,” a duet between Ingrid Michaelson and Zooey Deschanel, that tells the sweet story of Bunny, Rabbit, and their needle-felted friends as they prepare for the holidays. Watch the heartfelt film above, and go behind-the-scenes with Wahl and Love, who also collaborated on an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s Thumbelina, on Hello Hornet. (via The Kids Should See This)
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Animation Craft Food
Animated Tutorials Whip Up Fiber-Rich Lemonade and Banana Splits by Andrea Love
Andrea Love (previously) cooks up some treats just in time for the summer heat, although their woolen ingredients might make them less thirst-quenching than usual. From her miniature kitchen, Love films short stop-motion animations that show her squirting spools of juice to make lemonade or coating heaps of ice cream with a thin line of chocolate yarn. The refreshing snacks are the latest in the animator and fiber artist’s archive of felted fare, which you can watch on YouTube and Instagram. (via The Kids Should See This)
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Figurative Wool Sculptures by Nastassja Swift Explore the Memories and Narratives of Blackness
In her salient text, In The Wake: On Blackness and Being, scholar Christina Sharpe delves into the multiple definitions of “wake,” which span from “the path behind a ship, keeping watch with the dead, (to) coming to consciousness.” “In the wake,” Sharpe writes, “the past that is not past reappears, always, to rupture the present.” Largely focused on conversations around anti-Blackness and continued violence, the book is rooted in the afterlife of slavery and what sentiments, practices, and memories linger into the current moment, questions that similarly ground the work of artist Nastassja Swift.
Through fiber-based figures often arranged in large gatherings, Swift explores various narratives tied to Blackness, particularly those that relate to water and ancestral presences. “I’m interested in taking those things as starting points and imaging a space or happening that involves my sculpture and allows me to think through a hypothetical rooted in that memory or history,” the Virginia-based artist says. She derives these stories from texts like Sharpe’s, discussions with friends, and in one instance, a conversation with an older Black woman at a Toni Morrison film screening.
While there are multiple narrative threads in each of her pieces, Swift doesn’t strive to disclose each one, preferring explicit gaps in the connections. “I love knowing that there’s more to what’s being made and imagining other characters or continued happenings around what’s being made,” she says. “That’s not something I’m attempting to convey, rather information that I’m okay not sharing.”
Many of the faces evoke imagined subjects, not relatives Swift has met or seen in photographs, but rather somewhat of “an ancestral presence that allows my hands to make the face in any particular moment without my mind being aware of it.” She always begins with the supple shape of the face and then sculpts the facial details and hair from dyed wool and felt, a process that’s intimate and that’s evolved with two more recent works.
“With ‘Passage, when momma lets my braids flow down my back’ (2021) and ‘Your Banks are Red Honey Where the Moon Wanders-Self Portrait’ (2020), everything changed,” Swift says, describing the shift in the process to that of a ritual. The first of these two works, “Passage,” is a bubblegum pink figure sporting a collar marked with smaller heads arranged in a gradient. Long braids descend down the torso and pool on the floor. Second is Swift’s self-portrait, which features a calm face shaped in deep red wool that’s silhouetted by braids and figurative tendrils. Both interpret specific subjects as West African masks and sculptural forms in order to question “what it means to worship someone, and how that word could be reshaped to allow us to honor those around us,” the artist says.
Swift will have a satellite exhibition titled Canaan: when I read your letter, I feel your voice at the Contemporary Arts Network in Newport News from June 5 to July 3, 2021. Thanks to the Art as Activism Grant from the Black Box Press Foundation, the pieces will then travel for a stay at the Galveston Arts Center. The artist sells some felted dolls and other goods in her shop, and head to Instagram for glimpses into her studio and a larger collection of her sculptures.
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Editor's Picks: Animation
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