Grad Spot: Jamie Squire Plaumer
Jamie Squire Plaumer recently graduated from Glasgow School of Art with a BA Hons in Communication Design.
Jamie’s Milton and Lydia animation was one of our highlights of the GSA degree show. The short animation tells the story of a like-minded pair who take to the internet in search of love.
Original drawings from the animation sold at the degree show shop, giving the opportunity to take home a unique piece of artwork as well as granting glimpse into the immense amount of work which goes in to creating a hand-drawn animation.
As well as her enticing animations, the flexible course at Glasgow allowed Jamie to apply her distinctive drawing style to an array of quirky ceramics, surreal prints and eccentric zines.
We caught up with Jamie to find out more about her time at uni and plans for the future.
Hi Jamie – we loved your Milton and Lydia animation! Can you tell us a bit about the project and the inspirations behind it? Are Milton and Lydia based on real people?
They’re an amalgamation of people I’ve known and a lot of conversations about online dating experiences; it’s so common now, I think everyone has something to say about it. I wanted the script to come across quite spontaneous, like a chatty interview, but with the uncomfortable edge that comes with describing yourself to a stranger. I was really lucky to work with Natasha O’Keeffe and Dylan Edwards as my voice actors; they’re a married couple in real life, which doesn’t feature in the animation, but I think it made for a really charming dynamic, albeit a hidden one.
The short animation left us wanting more! Are there plans for a sequel? Or are you focusing on new ideas at the moment?
I’ll likely be moving on to something new. I loved making ‘Milton and Lydia’ but I think they’ll be retiring for now. I’m brewing an idea for something about our neighbor who feeds seagulls from his apartment window at the moment. I’ll keep you posted.
We are always fascinated to hear about the process of animation. How long did it take you to create Milton and Lydia? Were there any parts of the process which were particularly hard or slow?
Animating definitely demands a lot of focus. There were points when I got really lost in it and started thinking none of it made sense.
It’s easy to fall out of love with a project when you’re working on it for such a long period of time; I’ve had a very turbulent relationship with Milton and Lydia!
I would say the actual drawing and editing process took a couple of months; I had initially storyboarded a different animation that I eventually scrapped, which was a hard decision to make but it had to be done. I had all this work towards something that just didn’t express anything. It wasn’t particularly charming and lacked a sense of humor but I just couldn’t admit it because I had put so much work into it. The day after I decided to scrap it I sat down and started doodling characters and within a few hours Milton and Lydia were born. I think I work best under pressure.
All the elements of your animations are hand drawn. Is there a reason for this and would you ever consider working digitally?
Honestly, I think I have a penchant for laborious activity. It can be quite a meditative thing; or sometimes (usually towards the end of an animation) it will make me want to pull my hair out and I’ll watch a lot of Netflix while I’m working to make the time pass. I would definitely consider incorporating digital elements, but hand drawn is where my hearts at.
What aspect of your course have you most enjoyed?
I’ve had so much fun. It’s a really lively course and we get a lot of freedom and encouragement to try new things and branch out into different mediums.
Where do you do your creative work?
When I was working on Milton and Lydia I had a tendency to roll out of bed into my desk chair and then roll back into bed at the end of the day. In hindsight it’s probably not the most gratifying way of working. Putting on some jeans and brushing my teeth makes me way more productive.
Where do you get inspiration from for the characters you create?
I tend to eavesdrop a lot day-to-day, in café’s and on the train; I keep a sketchbook with me or jot down notes in my phone when I notice something funny or peculiar. Since a lot of my narrative work is about characters I’ll build on things I overhear, or social situations I’ve observed. Milton and Lydia both have pretty elaborate back-stories. I think it’s important to really know the character you’re working with to the point that they feel like a real person. If you have that kind of attachment then there’s motive to do justice to the character.
You mentioned that you keep a sketchbook. What role do visual journals play in your work?
I generally have a few sketchbooks on the go. I can be a bit of a neat freak so I’ve taken to having at least one that I don’t care about that I can make a mess in and not necessarily have to show anyone. Those ones always turn out the best.
I’ve taken to having at least one sketchbook that I don’t care about that I can make a mess in and not necessarily have to show anyone. Those ones always turn out the best.
Tell us about the last book you read or documentary that you watched – is there a subject matter interests you most?
At the moment I’m reading The Outsider by Albert Camus. It’s a short read but a heavy one. The last documentary was Beyond Clueless; it’s described as a “PhD on the history of high school cinema.” The soundtrack is really luscious. It made me realize what an affection I have for teen movies, partly because I grew up with them and they evoke that nostalgia.
What is your go-to snack of choice to fuel your creativity and productivity ahead of a big deadline?
In the run up to our hand in I was living on an outrageous amount of bananas and things dipped in hummus.
Are there any creative projects out there that you’ve seen recently that you wish you’d made?
I just recently came across Ainslie Henderson and his animation ‘I Am Tom Moody.’ It’s this gorgeous, atmospheric stop motion; it manages to be hilarious and heart wrenching at the same time. There’s a Making Of as well, which is great because you rarely see the nitty gritty bits of the animating process.
Are there any animators that you admire? What do you like most about their work?
So many. The first big inspiration for me was Julia Pott. Her work is so imaginative and immersive, and she really nails that creepy but cute thing. Also Luiz Stockler; I have a real admiration for animators who can make you empathize, and find a balance between comedy and sensitivity.
What are you most looking forward to about post-university life?
I’m excited to get out of my comfort zone and work with a brief. ‘Milton and Lydia’ is the first truly narrative animation that I have made. I hadn’t written a script before or worked with actors so it’s been a great experience to chuck me in at the deep end. I can’t wait to get stuck into more animation now.
Finally, what would you most like to be doing with your work in 5-10 years time?
The dream is to keep writing and animating. I want to continue to make work that I feel passionate about and make the kind of films that I would like to watch. I would love to work on larger scale projects with more hands involved.