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Words on ILLUSTRATION: the brilliant Julia Pott

January 19, 2010

Ever since I discovered her graduation film ‘My First Crush‘ I am in love with the work of illustrator and animator Julia Pott (1985). Her creations mostly combines animals with keen phrases. “I use the animals to express something I am feeling, so as cheesy as it may sound I guess they are a part of me.”

Julia grew up in North London, “in a well-loved, messy house in the middle of a field full angry horses”, but also spent a lot of time in New York as her mom is from there. “My mom was great, she read to me every night from books like Where the Wild Things Are, The Gambling Grandma and Gorilla and I developed a huge love of story telling. I remember we also wrote our own children’s book together when I was about 8. It was about an underwater investigator who was spying on King Trident who had an army of tiny fishes. I illustrated the story too. I wish I knew where that was now! Also whenever I had a bad dream my mom made me draw it, to get it out of my system, she was a huge influence on my wanting to go into art.”

How would you describe your work and who are your biggest inspirations?
My work is taken from human relationships: what people feel, how they communicate it, how they keep it hidden etc. My aim is to create a film that is so universal to people, that people can relate to and take something away from it that really makes a difference to them. I am hugely inspired by artist and filmmaker Miranda July, everything she does is so poignant, particularly her short film Are you the favorite person of anybody?
I also take a lot of influence from contemporary illustrators such as Luke Best, Jon Klassen, Sara McNeil and Carson Ellis, and animators like David O’Reilly, Igor Kovalyov and SSSR.

© Julia Pott

Can you tell me more about the animals you draw?
I use the animals to express something I am feeling, so as cheesy as it may sound I guess they are a part of me; a little creature that I use to make sense of the monologue in my head, perhaps. Some of them are recurring characters. Like the cat and dog holding hands was just a little illustration, but then they became the main characters in my Casiotone music video.

Is it difficult to make a living with your work?
Animation is what I make my main income from. Besides that I sell a lot of my work on Etsy, which keeps a roof over my head, but most of the other illustration work I do is mainly for fun, as a break from animation. I know a lot of people struggle trying to make ends meet when they are freelancing, but if you’re committed to it and don’t mind eating crackers for a while it will definitely pay off.

How did your career develop and what do you consider the most important event so far?
After graduation from Kingston in 2007 I went traveling for a few months and whilst I was away, my film My First Crush was featured on the front page of YouTube. A lot of my career I have to thank for that, because people started getting in touch about my work almost immediately. A few months later I signed to Picasso Pictures in Soho [London – KH] as a director, which was great and got me in touch with how the industry works. After that it have been little blessings that have really made the difference to my career… Etsy interviewed me for their handmade portraits, then I made the video for Casiotone and it was brought to the attention of Spike Jonze, who blogged about it, which led to my being one of the four directors on the incredible The Hazards of Love Visualized Project of The Decemberists. It premiered at Royce Hall in Los Angeles in October and we were all flown over for the event. The films were projected on this massive screen while The Decemberists played live in sync with the animation. I feel so lucky!

What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a short film at the Royal College of Art, as I am doing a two-year MA course there, so there will be two new short films from me in the next two years. With my collective TreatStudios I am also working on a series of ads that will be out in the UK in late January.

What are your future plans?
I will be at the Royal College until June 2011, and after that I plan to move to New York and work as a freelance animation director.

If you could make a wish for planet earth, how would it sound?
I just wish everyone was doing as much as they could to cut down on the energy they use and save as much as possible.

© Julia Pott

© Julia Pott

© Julia Pott

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