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Anya Vaughn

Animator and Illustrator

About Me

Artist Statement

When I originally decided to pursue animation, I was only interested in the type of cartoony 2D animation I saw in TV and movies. While I admired stop motion and experimental techniques, they seemed far too complex and time consuming to interest me. I only tried stop motion on a whim during my first year at college in a sculpture class. I was surprised to find that building and animating puppets was actually pretty fun. I ended up taking a stop motion class the following year, where I was introduced to more experimental techniques like scratchboard and paint on glass animation. I discovered that I love trying different materials that compliment the tone and subject matter of her animations. While I still love traditional 2D animation and storytelling, I find now that I enjoy experimenting with the visuals to help set the tone.

Along with animation, I enjoy creative writing. I especially like writing long-form narratives. In the future, I hope to develop more of these types of stories, either by animating short films set within a larger story or by writing the stories out in the form of scripts or comics. My goal is to use visual experimentation to convey my narratives in a way that creates a cohesive story with a unique tone and personality.

Artistic Influences

My grandmother is Japanese, so growing up I watched a lot of Japanese media, especially Studio Ghibli movies. As I grew up and became better able to appreciate the nuances of these films, I was inspired by how Hayao Miyazaki uses the concept of ma (or emptiness). As he describes it, ma is the time in between actions where the story is given a chance to breathe. They help to set the tone, or build on character relationships and personalities. My favorite example of this is in Spirited Away, when Chihiro is given onigiri and starts crying while eating it. She spent the prior 45 minutes of the movie struggling to survive in a surreal world she doesn’t understand, and this moment is the first real chance she has to stop and take in everything that has happened. This scene excellently releases the tension that has been building throughout the movie, while also making Chihiro feel real and relatable to the audience. Moments such as these in Ghibli films have helped me realize that often the small, quiet moments in stories are just as important as the action and drama.

Stylistically, I prefer art with high contrast and texture. I love scratchboard, ink drawings, and relief prints for this reason. Franklin Booth’s ink drawings are amazing to me because of how highly detailed and textured they are. This, along with the use of lighting and contrast, really set the atmosphere in his illustrations. I also enjoy the style of Piotr Dumala’s scratchboard animation. The way that scratched animation layers over itself and creates an echoing effect as it moves is visually appealing to me. I also like how the rough texture and high contrast make the animation striking, giving it a harsher tone.

More recently, I have been inspired by Mob Psycho 100. The show is based on a comic which is very well written but has amateurish art. Rather than redesign the art for the show, the animators use the comic’s rough style to create high energy animation with a unique personality. They also hired animator Miyo Sato to animate some scenes in paint-on-glass to enhance the surreal elements of the show. Part of what inspired me to try paint-on-glass was seeing how it was used here. The experimental aspects of the show’s visuals compliment the story and its themes, something which I hope to achieve in my own work.

My Resume

To learn more, see Anya's resume (PDF).