More often then not, we find ourselves waking up at 7 AM and making the trek to a job we really have no business doing. We leave our hearts at the door, and with it the fourteen-year-old self we promised a life of magic, beekeeping, that full-time larping gig. In the award-winning series, Work-Life Balance, Toronto-based artist Hudson Christie offers us a glimpse into a world where we bring our dreams to work. Through this playful fusion we are made to witness the seemingly impossible scenario. Though we admire the bravery in each polymer clay-based character, the union is not without its violations; each character is administered a pink slip for their unruly behavior. We can’t help but fear our own dismissal and failure in the quest to do what we love. The series seems to beg the question: Which profession is more absurd, a mortician or a magician?
What or who inspired you to pursue clay animation/works?
Up until a couple years ago I used drawing and painting in my work. I was actually introduced to working three-dimensionally by figurative folk sculpture rather than stop motion. While I grew up watching stop motion programs like Gumby and Pingu, the simplicity and personality of wood-carved figures was the influence that launched me into a sculptural style. I’ve tried to borrow from that amazing tradition of work without being exploitative of it. Having to work in a sort of auto pilot mode under quick deadlines has helped me develop my own vernacular to the point where I’m hopefully inventing more than I am imitating.
In an age where clay animation/works is as ancient as b&w films, what is the personal draw to this slow, tedious process?
The scarcity of illustrators working in this physical approach is a huge draw. Having a “thing” is pretty valuable in this field. However, there are plenty of amazing illustrators using software to create diorama-like pictures and animations so it’s tempting to try it out. The work would be different; sculpture done on the computer has an entirely different tactility. What’s awesome is that I think currently people are warming up to the eccentricities of digital rendering. The imperfections in my work, of the hand made
, have had much longer to become aspects that are romanticized and understood as charming. Things that have historically been considered ugly and sterile about computer graphics are now becoming markers of aesthetic savvyness (and their uncanniness is being used in a really beautiful and affecting way). See Jordan Speer
, Jack Sachs
, Rafael Ochoa
, and Julian Glander.
Do you find your work to be satirical?
I wouldn’t say that I really have a cohesive satirical thesis as an artist. When I have the opportunity to be funny while dismantling problematic societal structures, it’s a blast, but I’m at a point where I haven’t developed a hit list of targets I need to criticize. I anticipate this will change because more and more things are making me mad.
What other forms of creative, humorous expression are you into?
I often play a Weird Al game with myself wherein I replace lyrics in songs to make them funny or naughty. I sing them to myself (I work alone).
What would be your advice to a kid dead set on working with clay artworks/animation?
Start with ideas! Great ideas are what make any animation actually good. Plus you’re a kid, so coming up with weird ideas is your specialty. The animation part, unless you’re about doing large scale animations, is mostly self-teachable. Regardless, kids these days are so worldly that they don’t even need my advice.
What are you going to do after this interview?
I’m working on an animation for a talk at Cannes Lions! It’s kinda one of those jobs where I get to be funny while dismantling problematic societal structures, which is nice.
Hudson Christie is a Toronto-based artist. He has worked with the The New York Times, ESPN Magazine, Maisonneuve, and the Association of Registered Graphic Designers. In 2014, he earned the medal in Illustration at OCADU for the thesis,Work-Life Balance. You can check out more of his work at www.hudsonchristie.com and follow him on Instagram and Tumblr for experiments and everything else.