Scene prep artist and animator Laura Murray has been doing talks and after school projects with children in her old secondary school in Ballyfermot to promote animation. In the piece below, she talks about her experience working with the kids, what she perceives as the current limited access to information about animation for secondary school kids and how she herself came to choose a career in animation.
At a very young age, like many kids, I had a keen interest in cartoons. I started drawing when I was six. At that time, I had to wear an eye patch on my right eye, due to it being lazy. I was told that I should colour in pictures in colouring books but I found it more interesting to draw in them. From then on I continued to draw.
Through primary and secondary school, I used the positive feedback that I got from my teachers as a motivation to draw more and I wrote a lot of stories. I even brought an A3 sketch pad around with me in secondary school so that I could sketch some cartoony drawings if we had a free class. Around 3rd/ 4th year I hardly did any life drawing at home, mostly at school, only a few days a week, but that wasnt enough. In 4th year, there was a course in a new youth centre that was called the Base.
It was called the DATA project, an animation/audiovisual/ media project for young teenagers to tell stories about drugs in the local area. I found the animation part interesting and so I went along. At that time, I didnt have any knowledge of how to use photoshop, macromedia flash or even how to turn on a mac! I felt so dumb and most of the 15 weeks I basically was struggling. But I learned alot from it and one of the facilitators recommended that I start doing more life drawing so that I could improve my drawing skills. I also did a mural project and this led me to be more involved with art and promote myself throughout the youth centre.
When I was in 5th year I did a evening portfolio course in Ballyfermot College to develope my drawing skills and I got funding to do a two week animation course in IADT Dun Laoighaire in the Summer time. I learned the basics; bouncing ball, walk, pendelum and to do your own animation. From doing these courses I managed to produce a good portfolio. At the open day in Ballyfermot College while I was in 5th year, I brought some of my work along and I met one of the teachers. He told me that if I entered my portfolio in one of the animation courses now, I wouldn’t get in. He advised me to work more on still life, produce a sketch book full of observational studies, do more painted studies, mixed media. I took this advice on board and I spent the rest of 5th and 6th year producing my portfolio work. My art teacher helped to prepare my portfolio, making sure I had the recommended material in it.
I got my place in animation drawing studies and from there I progressed and graduated with my degree. I found that I had to network with people outside of my secondary school to gain knowledge about animation. When I started college, I still didn’t have great knowledge of computers and felt that I got that through my time there.
At the moment, I am working on a clay mation project with the 2nd years in St Dominics for 7 weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are working on the theme of the environment. I am encouraging them to develop their stories, characters, backgrounds and in the end, come out with small animated movies. What I hope that they gain from the 7 weeks of the project is a much better understanding about animation in general.