No, really, it isn’t!
For a long time I made quite a difference between Jessica the animator and Jessica the fine artist. Somehow I wasn’t able to bring these two aspects of my work together. It took a whole year of shows, exhibitions and screenings to sort this stuff out. Life happens. It’s complicated even though it’s amazing.
Right now there is no gap between all the things I do anymore. I am an artist, and whether I do animation or drawing or creating paper objects, it’s still me who is doing this.
When I started this blog in 2008, I wanted to document my journey in animation, and to tell you about the process of making my animated short, Ins Dunkel (engl. Into the Dark). I did this, and you responded kindly and I was always glad to have you around. I separated my animations from my other artworks by having a blog about animation here and my online art portfolio on another website though.
To make a long story short: the blog moved over to my portfolio site, and they won’t be separated any more: You’ll find everything I do now on jessica-koppe.de. No more hiding, no more multiple online personalities! Jeez, how I love that new site!
If you reed this blog via rss feed, you may want to change the feed url: the new blog’s feed is
and in a few weeks I’ll also change this blog’s feed into that address in case you missed this information.
This blog will remain online since it’s a documentation of a long process, and since there are still some pretty good resources here. Just crawl through all the posts if you have a spare Sunday afternoon or so! I’m going to close the comments on this site after a while, but if you feel the need to say something, just drop me a line!
I send you all much love, and hope to meet all of you again on the new blog!
All the best,
– Jessica ♥
2012 has been quite a busy and successful year, but was tremendously exhausting at the same time. I started 2013 with a massive cold, and today was the first day that I’d been able to work in the studio again.
I kicked off slowly with a warm-up drawing of a girl from a fashion magazine. I didn’t have anything in mind, the only thing I wanted to do was to exagerate her features a bit. I totally trust my creative process here: I just do something and the ideas will come.
Since I rarely like my blank sketches, I usually start to add several layers of colour, and often a mixed-media type of image emerges from what I do. I thought it might be interesting for you if I walk you through my process, to give you an idea of how I do these things. The following workflow applies to almost everything I do. I can translate it into animation, drawing, writing… everything. I start with an idea, and then I add things, and take some things away, repeat that several times and after a while I’ll like what I’ve done and then I’ll keep it.
This is the final piece from today:
As I mentioned before, I started with a pencil drawing. Next, I inked the sketch with a drawing pen and erased the original drawing since it’s been quite a mess. Mostly I’m doing those clean-ups on my light table, but today I simply used an eraser. I seriously admire people who have a rough drawing style, but I’d usually like to have clean, graphical lines for my drawings.
To create some depth within the drawing I add some bold shadows with markers. At this point the drawing looks already fine to me, but I simply love colours.
I add layer after layer. Normally, I’ll start with some bold primary colours, and than adding shapes, backgrounds and patterns and some accidents, although they’re not really accidents. My head and hands are well-trained in creative works and love to do the things they usually do, so I often use random structures to find new ways of creating an image and to keep my mind open. So I let run some ink or use uncontrollable tools and the like. I just love that.
When I see that I’m nearly there, I start the final clean-up. I emphasise important parts and outlines, or hide those I don’t like so much, and tadaa! The piece suddenly is finished.
For this image I used drawing inks, pencil, markers, watercolours and acrylics on paper. It’s 20 x 30 cm. Here’s an image gallery with eight stages of the image’s developement (click to enlarge):
It took me about 4 hours to make it.
I want you to show how I create most of my images. I also editied the final piece digitally, and added some text. Done!
And since this blog is mainly about animation, I made an animated gif of the process for you as well:
I had a great time today, sleep tight everyone!
If you read this via RSS, you might go over to vimeo to watch my Christmas animation there.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, dear friends and comrads!
What a year!
Christmas is always a great opportunity to say Thank You! for the great time I had with you during the last 12 months, and to send you all the best through this tiny piece of animation.
I’ve been animating since 2005 now, and from time to time I love to try some new things or old things done differently. The film looks like cut-out animation but really is made of cardboard and the set stands upright while good ol’ santa is rigged from behind. It’s all stop frame animation and done ‘in camera’ (except the handwriting).
The music track is by the USAF, and it’s public domain (find it here: archive.org/details/SantaClausIsComingToTownByUsaf).
I hope you enjoy your Christmas vacation and experience laughter and love over the holiday!
I send you lots of love!
When I finished my “Ins Dunkel” film project, I registered with two websites, reelport.com and withoutabox.com to easily submit and promote my film to national and international film festivals. They basically offer the possibility to upload your film for a few bucks or even for free, and to then send the film online to festival calling for entries who use their service, too.
Whenever I submit my film to a festival it costs me 2€ (at reelport.com). That’s pretty cheap compared to burn a DVD, put it in a box, print all the submission materials, put in an envelope and ship it abroad. Withoutabox charges a bit more, but I suppose this is because most of American festival want a filmmaker to pay a submission fee, usually around 30$ or so.
If you’re a festival you have to pay for registration with those websites, depending on which services you use.
In June, I applied to Bristol Encounters festival, just because I’d love to see my film in that place of the world where a big part of my animating career was formed. I got a rejection letter (I mostly do) and it basically said, sorry, we got 2000 submissions and were are able to show only 10% of them. 2000 times 2€ per submission makes 4000€ for the reelport company for this single festival.
I then recently became a juror of an international animation festival and they expect up to 600 animated film that we have to see and judge. I found the sheer number overwhelming. 600 films with an average duration of approx. 5 minutes make about 50 hours in front of my screen.
Imagine you have to watch 6000 films. The jury of the Shnit sortfilm festival had to do this recently (at least they stated that in their rejection letter). Like, fucking six thousand times 5 minutes of film. This is a huge amount of lifetime for the jurors, and I can’t really believe that they’ve watched every film to the end. And 6000 submissions add up to 12000€ for reelport. Not bad.
This really is a win-win situation, isn’t it?
The indie filmmakers have to pay only a few bucks to get their films submitted and spend the rest of the day lazy at twitter or so.
The festivals get a huge amount of submission, that they’re probably not able to watch and so they can choose the easiest way and chose films they already heard of. And the best: not sending rejections letters or mails anymore because the film makers can check on the website if they’re chosen or not.
Plus, the submission websites do something good, because they can pay their employees and make it easy for anyone to feel good without actually doing to much.
But where does all the money go?
Into art and film projects again? In funds and scholarships for filmmakers that need some support?
Well, I don’t know much about reelport.com, but withoutabox.com belongs to imdb.com which is owned by amazon.com (source: Wikipedia, Dec 12, 2012, 12:17). Just saying.
I have no problem if someone makes money by offering a good product or service. I’m just not sure if this actually is a good service to the indie filmmakers when the festivals then aren’t able to watch your films properly. I applied for more than 30 festivals on reelport so far, and didn’t get one screening opportunity. I applied with an ordinary DVD in an envelope to four festivals so far, and got one screening. This is worth further investigation I think, not only for us filmmakers but also for the festivals I think.
I’m curious if this just my “stupid websites, I got another rejection” rant or does anybody else have similar experiences? What are your experiences? Did you try those websites?
even though it was rather quite on the blog, I had been busy for several months in a row now. Next to the usual I took part in a three exhibitions, more or less at the same time. I was more into drawing and building paper objects than into animation this time, but don’t worry: there will be new animated projects soon.
One of those exhibitions was an awesome boost for my self-confidence, and another one was my first solo show since last December:
fragile | Paperworks
I’d like to share some impressions from the show and the night of the opening reception with you today. – So, pictures! It was rather full on the night of the opening reception… I’m always surprised how much I’m enjoying myself in such a situation!
For the exhibition I made a series of A5-sized drawings. I tried to work more intuitively and just let things happen. – I just love them, they contain everything that is important to me and my work: bright colours, words, stories, a bold graphic style…
I also made a few new paper objects for this exhibition: an organic, abstract structure which can be found in some of the drawings and on the invitation card (see above) as well:
And 31 tiny houses, The city of abandoned artworks:
When I planned the exhibition, I knew that I wanted to work with that pillar. I thought it would be nice to have little houses around it like a tiny village grown at a cliffy landscape. They didn’t look so great when empty, and I had some spare artwoks that I didn’t like. I cut them into small pieces and placed them into the houses. Even though they’d been unloved, they did find their way into a gallery. Which is pretty much a win-win situation.
You still have the chance to see the exhibition until November 17, 2012: Opening times are Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 12 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Neustädter Str. 10
33602 Bielefeld (Germany)
I hope you all are alright? I send you lots of love!
One thing I love most about my life as an artist is to go out, display my work in exhibitions and to get in touch with you there. So I’m glad to announce that my work will be shown in another group exhibition:
A warm invitation to you all!
Ganz privat – Familie
30|09|2012 – 13|01|2013
An exhibition about all aspects of family life.
Städtische Galerie / Museen der Stadt Lüdenscheid
Sauerfelder Straße 14 – 20
- Eva Betram
- Barbara Flatten
- Nan Goldin
- Oliver Held
- Jessica Koppe
- Dieter Mammel
- Katharina Mayer
- Antonio Velasco Muños
- Christiane Rücker
- Judith Samen
- Mats Staub
- Gan-Erdene Tsend
- Annet van der Voort
The exhibitions opens Tuesdays to Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (30|09 – 31|12|2012) and from Wednesdays to Sundays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (01|01 – 13|01|2013).
There also will be guided tours through the exhibition. I’ll be there on Sunday, 7 October 2012 at 3 p.m. to talk to visitors and to explain how I work and other things you’ve always wanted to ask. There’s no entry fee to this event, so feel free to join the group and ask me things until I fall over. There will also be a catalogue available.
So this have been all the facts.
Next, I’m going to have a personal freak-out moment because THIS IS SOOO FUCKIN’ COOL!
This is the first exhibition ever in which a gallery collects my artworks from my house by an art logisitcs company. I’m going pro, folks!
Plus, there is an artist in that exhibition whose works I admired since the early beginning of my art studies, and she was of the first artist discoveries I made on my own (Hello, Judith!). Nice. Plus, my works are going to be exhibited with another artist who has quite an international reputation, Nan Goldin. This is awesome. This is fucking awesome! Little Jessica who’s happy like crazy right now is going to be shown next to a big name.
This may sound childish, immature or inexperienced, but I just don’t care. I’m so happy that this is happening, and I smile all the time because of this. For the first time in a long period I feel something like I’m successful.
How I got this gig
you may wonder.
I applied for an art grant. I didn’t get it. Instead I got another rejection letter. But its envelope brought another sheet of paper that said, “Hey, sorry you didn’t get the prize, but we would like to show your works in another exhibition. Interested?” That’s pretty much it, the rest was just organisational stuff.
If you want to achieve something, get rejected. I do this a lot. What about you?
I’d love to see you in Lüdenscheid, and I send you acceptance and love,
Due to the fact that I have the feeling a few things need to be set in order in my life currently, I started cleaning every corner of our home and sort a lot of things out a few months ago. We collected a lot of stuff over the years… But things finally get better!
While I’m wondering what the next step in my artistic career, I crawl a lot through old portfolios, some of them more then 15 years old when I just started to draw somewhat professionally. I also found a little book with analogue photographs from 2002 – I made them when I just began to study fine arts:
Early puppet sets by Jessica Koppe in 2002
I think it’s amazing how much these images contain almost everything that I’m working on today: storytelling, small worlds or stages, working with puppets…
I shot this images in my very first weeks at the Academy at the age of 21, and back then I wouldn’t ever think that I’m going work in animation one day. Well, I suppose I didn’t thought, but maybe I’d already known…
Interestigly enough I study all the things that I’ve done before to find a clue what I want to do next. When I purchased a new book about mixed-media dollhouses just for sake of play, I remembered these pictures. They so much surprised me…
Did you ever have a similar experience? I’d love to hear them just to proof that my idea of us always already knowing the answer is right.
That’s what they say.
Because we animators love working with repeatable movements. Animation usually is such a huge amount of work, that we’re always glad if we can take a short cut or two.
Two weeks ago I taught an animation workshop at the museum MARTa Herford, and one of the kids had finished his claymation project early. He asked me if I’d had another idea what he could do, and I said, “Do you want to give drawn animation a try?”, and he was like, “okay, sure!”
So I gave him pegbars, a punch and a basic introduction and left him while some of the other kids needed my help.
Ten minutes later he came with 12 drawings of a moving flame, a cut-out chimney, and asked: “We can cycle an animation, can’t we?” I nodded, “Yes, of course!” And he said, “Well, can you then make it a minute long or so?”
Now that’s what I’d call thinking and acting efficiently. But I did.
So, lay back, relax and enjoy
I suppose animation is all about cheating… If we animators would love reality, we probably had another job. What do you think?
Have a good start into the week!
PS Do you know these fireplace DVD you can buy (like these)? Did you know that it’s been one of the first uncommented artistic intervention on German TV in 1969? Gerry Schum produced a video of Jan Dibbets called TV As a Fireplace, that showed a filmed, well, fireplace. Just sayin’.
Inspired by the most perfect animated short that exists in my world so far*, I started to work on paper puppets and cut-out animation again.
I have several books about making things from paper (like this, for example) and a shelf full of paper toys, because I’ve always liked working with and making things from paper.
I too have a new idea for a film project, and I want to try a few things before I move on to the whole production design thing. So I made a small paper puppet and did a test shot on my animation stand to see if the style is nice, and if it may or may not work for the new project as well:
It’s a really rough set-up due to the quick experiment I did without planning. The puppet is made of thick paper and colored brads or fasteners like these you’d use for scrapbooking. The coloured paper is a former drawing that I didn’t like so much, but that I also didn’t want to waste. The background is also a recycled drawing from another experiment.
My favourite artists in whatever discipline are the people who seems to 100% trust their instincts. I want that, too, for my work, and I’m practising doing so. I now try to speed up things a bit and not to over-think concepts and the like. I think cut-out animation will serve the new project well, and I’m looking forward to some more experiments.
I hope you all are doing great?
– Jessica ♥
* Watch it. Seriously!