Sunday, October 5, 2008

Don Hertzfeld (Scott's Pick)

For my artist, I decided to choose the ultimate independent animator: Don Hertzfeld. He is a man of legendary proportions in the world of animation. He does his work solo, meaning he works with no in-betweeners or anything like that. His work is completely self-financed, so as not to become influenced by outside commercial sources, something he attacks in the work above. He works in traditional style, directly on paper and shoots it using an old camera stand that he claims was used to shoot the old Charlie Brown shorts.

Just as a note, above is his Oscar nominated piece: Rejected. His work is some of the most heavily pirated stuff on Youtube, something which he regrets greatly. He does not regret this for the lack of money he is receiving for his work, but rather because it is a low quality reproduction, which does not compare to the original.

So why would I pick Hertzfeld? Besides the fact that he, like me, is an independent animator making dirt cheap animation (his is probably a bit more expensive than mine), he is also one of the most innovative artists working in the field. His work is dark and doubles as commentary upon the field in which he is working, as I intend this project to be. His work, much like Julian Beever's, often does not hide the method from which it was made. That is terribly phrased, so I guess I should try and clarify what I'm trying to say by example... Much of Beever's work has to do wiht the fact that he is working on a sidewalk. I've seen pieces of his which are intended to fool viewers into thinking that rather than looking at a piece of concrete, they are looking at a hole in the concrete. He uses the medium to his advantage. Hertzfeld does little if anything to hide the fact that he's working on paper. At the end of the short shown above, he makes the viewer very clearly aware that they are looking at a short animated on paper, using the medium to his advantage.

I said before that his work is dark, and this is consistant throughout. Another short of his known as Everything Will Be OK depicts the depressingly strange life of a random character (whose name escapes me). Another famous short known as Billy's Balloon shows a child being repeatedly beaten by his own balloon. I highly recommend looking these shorts up, but cannot morally post them on this blog since the quality is so low. The reason I mention these shorts, and in particular Everything Will Be Ok, is because they are representations of the darker side of normal life, something I've always associated with boredom which has been the focus of much of my best work.

So how does the predecessor of Adult Swim appeal to me? A better question would be, how does he not? His work is simple, but the animation is fluid and shows much technical skill despite the utter minimalism of the drawings. His writing is hilarious, original and incredibly memorable, spawning a cult following of huge proportions.

Information on his work can be found on his website:, and his actual work is available highly pirated on Youtube, although I, like he, highly recommend that if you want the full experience, you should check out the DVDs.

No comments: