Sign up for our weekly newsletter
Waterfront Festival

Em Green Talks This Fabric World - The Animation Fighting Overconsumption

16 March 22 interview: Lizzy O'Riordan

During their time at NTU, Em Green created This Fabric World, an animation created to criticise the fast fashion industry. After winning the Young Creative Awards with the same animation, Em has gone on to thrive in the creative industry, landing a job at Tinmouse Animation Studios. We catch up for a chat about animation style, childhood inspirations, and helping others...

Hi Em! You won a Young Creative Award in 2020 for Animation and Digital Media. Can you tell us about your project?
Of course! I won the award for a short 1 minute animated film called This Fabric World, which I created in the final year of my BA in Graphic Design at NTU. It was initially in response to a brief set by the RSA Student Design Awards, which gave students a selection of speeches and asked them to assemble a film to go with it. I chose a speech that was all about fast fashion and its impacts on the planet. I wanted to create a story that would evoke emotion in the audience as well as illustrate the message of the speech, so I came up with a concept of a world made from fabric inhabited by fabric people. They use the fabric of the earth to create their clothes by literally cutting away the ground. I felt that it would be a great metaphor to represent our use of materials and resources to create our clothes in the real world.

I wanted the film to have a really tactile feel, so I decided to use digital scans of fabric textures to create the characters, and a real fabric quilt for the environment, which I sewed together myself.

Since then, you’ve gone on to get a job at Tinmouse Animation Studio. How does it feel to be working in the animation industry?
Great! I love my job and that I work for a studio with such a focus on helping the environment and social good. I’m really proud of where I work and that’s something I want to emphasise to anyone reading. Of course, getting into the industry can be difficult because of the fierce competition, but once you have your foot in the door, don’t be afraid to try out a few different places to find what works best for you. So far I’ve worked in both a marketing agency and animation studios, and I’ve found that personally I prefer animation studios because of the inspiration I get from my fellow animators and the types of projects we get to work on.

I feel really lucky to be a professional animator and to be in the industry I’ve dreamt about for years. It definitely hasn’t been a perfectly linear path though – my first job out of University was actually as a production assistant, though still in an animation studio; things like that are really helpful for gaining experience in the environment while you build your skills in your spare time.

For readers who might not know, can you describe your style? And what inspires it? 
I don’t think I have one set style per se, but that’s something I’m proud of, and something which I think is incredibly important in the animation industry as you’ll often be asked to animate something that already exists or that someone in your team has designed.

I love trying out varying styles to see what I enjoy though. I’ve recently explored the 1930’s rubberhose style of animation in my spare time, which was great fun (I was very inspired by the Cuphead video game and animators such as Tony Babel), but now I’d like to try something a bit different. I do tend to circle back around to 2D pieces, textural and mixed media approaches, and character focused work though as that’s where I started from. I love creating collage-like pieces or just giving things a bit of noise and grit whenever I can. I’m not the biggest fan of super clean stuff, I like a bit of wobble and gradients here and there.

One big telltale sign a work is mine is if it includes inanimate objects with eyes on though, I seem to do that a lot!

 

I came up with a concept of a world made from fabric inhabited by fabric people. They use the fabric of the earth to create their clothes by literally cutting away the ground. I felt that it would be a great metaphor to represent our use of materials and resources to create our clothes in the real world.

I love your use of colour. What do you enjoy about creating such bright pieces?
I love colour! Although sometimes monotone pieces can look lovely, I tend to lean towards using lots of bright colours in my work because I think they draw people in more and make things more appealing. As a generally happy and optimistic person, I like using colour to convey happiness and excitement in my work, as long as the subject matter allows for it. A lot of my work is character based, and colour can show a lot about a character’s personality so it’s useful when creating shorter pieces where worldbuilding isn’t much of an option. I also feel that as I work in a digital space where everything I make will end up on a screen, there’s no real limitations to the colours you can use like in print, so why not make use of that?

When did you first fall in love with this medium? 
I’ve always been a big consumer of animation, as most people are; as a child I loved cartoons like SpongeBob and as a teenager I loved Japanese Anime, but I was totally convinced I’d be a Graphic Designer until the end of my first year at University. As one of the final projects of the year we were asked to create a short animation in a group, with a prompt of 3 or 4 words in a theme such as weather. Until this point I’d never created an animation before, but I immediately really got into it and loved the project – we used one of our kitchens as the set and created a stop motion piece focused on an egg that was struggling with his mental health. Looking back on it now the end product was a bit rough and ready, but that’s where I really found my passion for the medium.

After that, I shoehorned animation into most university projects until my third year where I could choose whatever projects I wanted for my final portfolio. That’s when I went all out and got stuck into After Effects and more digital methods of animation – which is what I do now, all day every day!

What are you looking forward to in the future? Anything we should be looking out for? 
I’m really looking forward to refining my skills more and getting more into Creative & Animation Direction (eventually!). The environment I’m in at the moment is so supportive; I really feel like I have the time and space to explore new ways of doing things and I have great guidance from my Creative Director, Tom. I’m also looking forward to doing more with NTU; speaking at guest lectures, helping out on portfolio reviews and mentoring a few students through the Rise programme. I really want to give back and help others get into the industry and find their passion, especially if that’s in animation.

In terms of upcoming work, most of what I make will be through Tinmouse so you’ll be able to see what I’m up to on their website and socials – I’m currently working on an animation for our new initiative called The Good Hour, all about using a little time every month to come up with ideas on how to be more environmentally aware, so look out for that coming soon. I do also dabble in freelance work too but I can’t share any specifics about that right now, sorry!

And finally, the Young Creative Awards 2022 are now open. What would you say to anyone considering entering? 
Do it! You might get some great opportunities directly from winning an award or taking part – like a placement, interview or invitations to speak at events as I have recently. There are so many other indirect benefits though. Awards are a great subject to bring up in job interviews, but they also give you a big boost of confidence that what you’re making is great as lots of people think that too. Even if you don’t win, you can still get your name out there, and it would help you to get used to receiving feedback on your work and putting it out into the real world rather than purely on social media.

You can find This Fabric World on Em’s Website. You can also email Em at [email protected] if you have any industry questions..

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now

You might like this too...

Floot

You might like this too...