I have always found the development and progression of a designer or artist’s work extremely interesting to see.
I was introduced to Alison Lucy Stone’s work around six months ago, when I was shown a selection of her stop-motion animations (you can see some examples of these on Alison’s YouTube channel). I am always amazed by animations of this level of detail; when the set and props are so thoughtfully constructed and animated and interesting lighting and angles are used, these little films have a magical quality and are such a treat for the eyes.
When I asked Alison to send in her work for our ‘student profile’ series, I have to admit I was surprised (but far from disappointed!) by the work I received. Although Alison still works on stop-motion animations, I was really intrigued to see her experiments with video and editing and examples of her more recent work, which have a much more poetic and abstract quality.
Read the interview below to find out about Alison’s interests and influences and to see examples of some of her work. Alison also keeps a blog (alisonlucy.wordpress.com) where you can see more of her work – it’s really interesting to see her development sketches and notes for various projects – and more detailed explanations of the projects featured here.
What and where did you study?
I have recently graduated from Bath Spa University with a First-class honours degree in Graphic Communication. This course teaches you to be a versatile designer across all areas of visual communication and I found myself particularly drawn to the mediums of video and animation.
What would you say was the most interesting or enjoyable part of the course you studied?
The historical and critical studies element of my course was a component that I found extremely engaging, it gave me both confidence in my writing and also went on to significantly inform and influence my studio work in the final year. My dissertation subject focused on the visual language of wordless novels and how the reader’s experience of the white space of the ‘gutter’ is not only full of meaning but also uniquely significant to the medium of the Graphic Novel. I explored how far you can push the boundaries of readability in my project ‘Sequential Abstraction’.
What was your most interesting or memorable experience during your course?
I think my most memorable experience was attending a workshop by graphic designer Matilda Saxow. The objectives of this workshop were to understand and explore the physical nature of a printed publication whilst handling content in terms of sequence and variation, pace and scale. I really enjoyed working to a tight deadline because it somehow freed up creativity, you had to make fast decisions. It was also brilliant to be able to talk through ideas with the very talented and lovely Matilda Saxow.
What inspires your work?
I think the process of writing inspires my work. Some people have sketchbooks but I have notebooks full of scribbled ideas. I like the process of creating to determine the outcome and therefore I can often start a project not knowing exactly where it’s going to take me. Process was particularly important in my project ‘Reflections of Projections’ involving a process of repeated layered videos.
Who is the biggest influence on your work and why?
I couldn’t pinpoint one particular artist or designer that significantly influences me. I think our culture is somewhat overwhelmed with imagery and therefore it’s sometimes nice to take a step back and try to be influenced by something quieter, more poetic. I think that’s how I’d describe my most recent video work ‘Mirrored’, which works due to its simple observations. I did, however, look into the work of fine artists for inspiration such as Anish Kapoor, Robert Smithson, Francisco Infante-Arana and Nonna Gorunova.
Which piece, out of all of your, work best represents you as a designer?
‘Mirrored’ is the video piece that I feel best represents the sort of work that I do because the work evolved very naturally out of the process of observation. Over periods of time, I documented physical mirrors in various exterior environments creating a juxtaposition between the man-made structure and the natural, constantly changing reflected environment. I then compiled and edited a final video composition to the track ‘Inner Sunshine’ by Solar Bears.
Have you worked with any clients or on any previous projects? If so, which clients and what kind of project?
I have worked with the company Eatbigfish on a couple of occasions, creating personal stop-motion animations. The most recent project was extremely unique because the client wanted us to animate her wedding speech to surprise her husband. I worked as part of a small team, dividing up the tasks between its members. (Original speech audio removed due to privacy.) Audio: ‘Recurring’ by Bonobo.
What kind of medium do you use in your work and why?
I enjoy working with the medium of video and animation because I feel that you can pace and control the viewers’ experience throughout the work. Even the simplest observations can be transformed through the way they are revealed to the audience, and the editing technique in particular is something I am fascinated by. I find it thoroughly rewarding to work on the timings and combinations of different shots with audio and creating experiential pieces for the viewer.
If you could describe your design style in five words what would they be?
Sequential, experiential, experimental, curious and imaginative.
What kind of advice would you offer to someone interested in design?
I would advise the designers of tomorrow to be open minded about the term ‘design’. I believe visual communicators shouldn’t be restricted to a particular sub-category such as ‘typography’, ‘illustration’ or ‘animation’ but embrace and trust in the creative process to produce honest outcomes. Don’t be afraid to be different.
What are you currently working on now you have graduated?
I am keen to keep up the creative momentum gained within my degree, focusing on my video work in particular. I’m going to save up for a particularly exciting video camera that will enable me to continue to record time-lapse video observations. I hope to purchase something that will allow me to regularly indulge and develop my own visual language in the video medium.
What are your hopes for your future career?
I’m looking to complete an internship within the film/animation industry to learn more about the production process as a whole, from initial research to filming to post-production. This experience will, I hope, be a stepping stone to employment within the field and a creative career.
Alison also writes reviews for exhibitions and events in the field of visual communication, you can see her latest review of an exhibition by Semiconductor artist duo, Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, on the Roves and Roams website here.
If you would like to learn more about working in animation, be sure to check out AVA’s Basics Animation series, which includes titles on scriptwriting, digital animation, drawing for animation and stop-motion. All of these titles are available to buy from the AVA website.