The New Landscape: Animation, Illustration and Doing Them Well

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Jelly London's Nicki Field on why visual communication is more important than ever and how illustration and animation are proving to be a practical solution for cancelled shoots.
The New Landscape: Animation, Illustration and Doing Them Well

It’s fair to say that even six weeks ago, we could never have imagined the strange new world that now we find ourselves in. As curveballs go, 2020, you’re certainly bringing it. We’re saying that with a certain light-heartedness, although there is of course nothing to be taken lightly about the seriousness of the global health crisis we are facing right now.

Natural reactions to the current situation seem to veer from the upbeat cheer of positivity to moments of deep freak-outs, therefore the business of Advertising is probably not viewed as one of the front-line essentials right now. However, without a doubt there is still a big role for Brands to play, visual communication channelled in the right way can go a long way to having a positive, cultural impact. The whole industry is experiencing much reflection on how – as a Brand – you can do this in the right way. A  further layer to this is no matter what you choose to say, there’s the production challenge of how you say it.

We are finding that amongst the chaos of cancelled shoots that Illustration and Animation are proving to be a practical solution, as for many Illustrators and Artists, remote working is their default. Whilst Illustration and Animation become the short-term necessity, we feel we’d be doing a disservice to the things that we champion everyday, if we didn’t call out the opportunity for this to be a unique and powerful creative moment.

The best work comes out when the bar of the challenge is set high and tight parameters are to be navigated with care. It’s a great creative challenge to think, ‘How are we going to approach this’? How, as a creative community, can we come out of this with integrity and meaningful work? We don’t just want Illustration and Animation to be used as only the default way of getting things made – how can it be done well and measure up as the right creative solution?

A dear Creative friend of ours, Laila Milborrow says; ‘The most wonderful thing about animation is that the possibilities are endless. You can do anything. What’s not to love about that as a creative?’.

The sheer beauty of Animation and Illustration is that they aren’t restricted by reality and bring boundless creative possibility. They have the extraordinary power to transport someone into the imaginary universe of a Brand or Campaign however surreal. With a captive audience right now, how can you take them with you on a ride to delve into this imagined world as an escape?

Clover showed how animation enabled them to create an immersive world with no limits in this beautifully crafted spot to tell the story of their creamy, dreamy spread.

Clover - Shy the Sun

Illustration and Animation have the ability to transform the mundane into a place where it isn’t. As Laila mentions, there is a whole universe of artwork and directing styles, working alongside expressive and wonderful techniques that can bring mood, atmosphere and whatever tone you need to tell a story, whether it’s something everyday or fantastical. They can be both sophisticated and adult in approach and style and are a medium to be taken seriously by the most serious marketeers.

Animation can be everything that live action can be, with the use of photoreal and clever CGI it can even look exactly like live action. Animation is, after all, just telling stories on a timeline, the same as you do with live action, and, just like all the best live action directors, animation directors have their own unique directorial styles, their own unique vision to bring to the table, they too consider, lighting, framing, mise-en-scene, camera angles and movement, transitions from shot to shot, editing and sound but, the animation director has within their armoury yet more, they have the world of every hand-crafted or digitally created medium at their disposal. Every kind of technique can unfold the nuances of visual communication, animation is a powerful communication medium with untold potential which is currently at the disposal of every Brand looking for new ways to communicate.

One of my personal passions for Illustration and Animation is how it can be a vehicle to represent and channel a message that you otherwise couldn’t without it being thought of as too hard hitting or sensitive. It can be expressive and capture sentiments that are hard to articulate. Illustration can bring an approachability, lightness of touch to tough subjects. One of my favourite most recent examples of this is Anna Charity’s rebrand of Farewill, bringing such approachability to the subject of Will-making. To me, this is visual communication at its best. This doesn’t only have the ability for people to receive the message better, I believe it has the power to bring about wider cultural change on a sensitive subject.

Farewill - Anna Charity x Animade 

Successful advertising on the whole makes you feel something – there’s an emotional pull. Through the glaze of beautiful craft and a step away from the ‘realness’ live action would bring, you can achieve pivotal moments like Iceland and Greenpeace did together in their joint environmental call to action on banning palm oil.

Greenpeace - Passion Animation 

Considering the very real impact of Covid-19 to all of us as humans, mental health considerations are likely to be a big part of communications moving forward with such a massive change in social interactions. Headspace is another brilliant example of how the approachability of a deeply considered Illustrative / Animated brand approach can directly affect how someone interacts with your product and their human experience.

Headspace

We are already seeing an upswing in marketers deciding to halt their usual sales communications and move towards something they feel is more meaningful to bring some positivity into the digital space. There are a ton of possibilities right now and no-one has a crystal ball for the next few months. We are really interested to see how the creative landscape is going to change. Will there be a sea of marketeers exploring a new medium? What work is going to rise to the top? What work is going to be effective? But as Charlie our creative director wisely points out, ‘You have to remain true to the Brand and be authentic. Don’t play with a new medium just for the sake of it. Remain purposeful, with your Brand values as your anchor-point and create something to stand out’.

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Genres: Animation

Jelly London, 3 months ago