Maintenant 2015 – Interview with Ori Toor [english version]

Maintenant - Identité visuelle 2015 - Ori Toor

Alter1fo : How did you first get into illustration and animation?

Ori Toor : My mom is a retired textile and carpets designer. I spent much if my childhood playing on piles of rolled up rugs with lots and lots of wool all around me. In the evenings I watched as my mom made her designs – beautiful abstract water colored creations. I started drawing besides her, but I was more into cartoons. I watched a lot of road runner and decided at a very early age that I want to do animation someday. As I grew up I got more and more into animation, reading comics, and drawing.

You wrote on your website that “you almost never use references”. So we won’t ask about  your “references” but about which artists do you like…

It’s a good question because even though I don’t use references I do use inspiration. My favorite artists (from the top of my head) are Jim Woodring, Jon Burgerman, Souther Salazar, Paul Klee and the Fleischer Brothers. Of course there are many many more.

I’m really sorry, I don’t know much about graphic design and animation, but when I first saw your work, Hayao Miyazaki came to mind immediately. Maybe because of the fluidity that you give to your graphic work (both in graphic design and animation). Maybe because of a kind of poetry that your imaginary landscapes and characters share with those of Miyazaki too. Do his work inspire you ?  

Hayao Miyazaki Is one of my biggest heroes. His films never fail to make me feel good (and creative). I think What drew me to him was the amazing line work in Studio Ghibli movies. But more than that is the originality and amazing inventions that don’t seem to be present in most american animated features.

You said that you like to improvise your  drawings and animations and never sketch or plan (“no erasing”!…). Can you explain it a little bit more to us ?

Basically, I start with a blank file (or paper) and start drawing. Sometimes I have some vague idea in my head, sometimes not. I make a line or a shape and see where it takes me. If I use paper (like in my sketchbook) I don’t erase the lines. When I use the computer I’m more flexible I tend to nudge and fix the lines a bit as I draw them. It’s like expressionist art with an illustrated (or anime) style.

Characters and environments (backgrounds, foregrounds) seem to have the same “importance” in your graphic work (both in graphic design and animation), as if every element of the environments you do could become a character too. Do you agree with that ? Is that something that you want ?

You read me like a book! It’s exactly right.

I consider the characters and environment to be part of the same « cluster ». I draw worlds and creatures and I like to blur the hierarchy between them. I like to make things that look like an interesting gem or coral form far away but when you look closer you see a lot of action and life. It feels true in an existential manner – A snapshot of a big blob of matter and life that keeps moving and changing.

Electronic music is often made with  loops. In your animation projects, you work with animation loops. How do you think music inspires you ?

I often think of my work process (in animation) to be similar to the way a music producer works (although I don’t really know if that’s the case in real life).

When I create the loops I don’t know what they will look like when assembled together of multiplied many times. It’s always a surprise that required a lot of trial and error.

The best case scenario is when I play with a loop and and come up with something I could never imagine. Electronic music as also the best way to test animation. Animation without music is only 50% done.

You have recently worked on a breathtaking  global animation project  : you have created a living mural on the roof of the Sidney Opera House with other artists. Can you tell us about this project ?

So this was a part of an annual festival called VividSydney. The UK studio « Universal Everything » picked 22 artists form around the world to create about a minute of animation that was screened on the sails of the opera house to music created by Simon Pyke.

It was one of the coolest projects I ever had the honor to participate in. They sent me the template of the sails, a color palette and the words « Spin », and « Slide » and told me to make two 39 seconds pieces based to those words. I had complete freedom and it was an absolute joy to make but it was ever better seeing it on video with all the other beautiful works. I felt like I was a part of a global community of animators making hand drawn experimental stuff.

You ‘ve done the visual identity for Maintenant. What did you want to do with this project ?

For Maintenant, I wanted to make a round planet filled with flowers, clouds, abstracts shapes, some hidden people and houses, volcanoes and biospheres and lots of other things you can’t really explain. I wanted it to feel like a festival or a party compressed into one rotating object complete with a day and night cycle.

You wrote that you “can only create something from complete nothing” . Did Maintenant offer you a carte blanche for this visual identity ? Or did they have some requests ?

For this project I pitched some extremely general ideas and explained how I work. Maintenant had some requests but they were requests I really liked. They kept pushing for the project to be more abstract, artistic and powerful but gave me plenty of freedom. In total, I would say they let me do my art.

Maintenant - Identitié visuelle 2015 - Ori ToorDid you ride your bike to create this for Maintenant ?

I rode my bike, took walks on the beach and looked through photos I took last year on a vacation in Iceland.

What kind of analog / digital equipment did you use for this visual identity ?

I have a small and cheap Wacom tablet I really like. This project is all vector art with a tiny bit of color correction in photoshop.

What did you like while working on that project ?

Everything! I always like it when I can do my own thing. And I liked knowing that eventually this work will be accompanied with nice typography.

Last question : what are your next projects ?

I’m currently working on some secret personal things, thinking about an exhibition and started early work for a children’s book.

Thank you !!

Thank you, I really liked your questions.

More about Ori Toor

More about Maintenant 

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