Your recent animation for MTV looks fantastic! Can you tell me a bit more about it?
Thanks. That was a fun project to work on. I was contacted by a producer who I used to work with at Cartoon Network, who had just been given the job of launching the emerging markets channels and giving them a ‘look’ of there own. Emerging markets are countries like Khazakstan, Romania, Hungary, Iceland etc. We started to talk about these countries and the cultures that linked them and we kept getting excited by the folk legends and stories that each country had…
We looked at movies like Emir Kusturica’s ‘black Cat white cat’, and ‘time of the gypsies’ and listened to Balkan music like Gogol Bordello and Boris Kovac. We thought it would be great to create a world of funny, dark characters that would inhabit the channel, developing a surreal eclectic mix of folk inspired by animals, musical instruments and folklore. I then went into MTV for a month and sat in the basement doing sketches and developing the ideas. Once we had lots of sheets to look at we selected the favorites and started to flesh out scenes for them by doing rough storyboards, at this point an animator who we had worked with at Cartoon Network came on board and started to animate the characters, we wanted the animations to look hand made and raw so the best way to achieve this was to painstakingly hand-render them frame by frame and then putting it altogether in Flash. To us, the results evoked memories of some of the old Mtv animations from back in the 80’s, which was entirely what we set out to achieve.
This was great a project to work on as we were a small team and had lots of creative freedom. The budget wasn’t great but on certain projects it’s worth sacrificing a bit of money for more creative input.
How much work do you get paid for and how much and how much pro bono work do you do?
I mostly work on paid commissions. I don’t agree with ‘free work’ – although I have done it, it annoys me – Why should illustrators contribute to magazines and not get paid to do their job? I suppose it’s because they know they can get away with it, because there are so many people trying to get work published, but its exploitative and it shouldn’t be allowed. Sometimes, ‘pitch work’ is unpaid, but then you might win and it could lead onto paid work, so I do that (sometimes) if I have the time. As I mentioned before, some projects are worth getting involved with, like the recent Mtv project, as I knew it would be fun to work on and I'd come out the other side with a great body of work.
Apart from illustration what other things are you into?
Trepanation and Voodoo
Who are your favourite artists/illustrators alive today?
Blanquet’s dark and twisted, Tadanori Yoko – the king of the screen print, Jody Barton Is quite a funny guy, SoMe from Edbanger records is pretty cool, I’ve recently been very inspired by Saul Steinberg (he’s dead though), I love Gregory L Blackstock an autistic illustrator from the States, there’s plenty I’ve left out…
Will you still be living in East London when you’re 40?
Hell no! I don’t live in that area any more, I stayed for a year and then moved back central, I prefer it. Everyone in east London fits into a cliche of what someone in east London is supposed to be. I had a studio in Hackney near London fields last year, and I felt like such a stereotypical artist walking around that area. There is a definite tension between the locals and the arty folk, this was the graffiti on the wall near my studio… ”CLASS WAR! FUCK OFF MIDDLE CLASS SCUM”
How do you promote yourself and get work or does it all come though your agent?
Mostly through my agent and my website, but sometimes I hang around outside peoples houses, follow them to work, rummage in their bins Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that can help get inside the minds of commissioners.
Have you ever considered selling your work in gallery for a living?
I’m selling screen prints in a gallery in east London called Nellyduff. It might be hard to earn a living from selling stuff in a gallery.
Are you involved in any collaborative projects at the moment and is there anyone you would like to work with?
Not right now Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I’d like to do a duet with Sting though.
What’s next in the pipeline for Serge Seidlitz?
I’m playing Wesley Snipes in Blade 4, but apart from that I’m probably going to keep on trying to get work in the illustration world and get involved with fun projects.
TMNT or Mr Bean’s Holiday?
Teenage mutant ninja bean’s
Apples or Bananas?
Ghostbusters or He-Man
You can see more of Serge Seidlitz’s work at