“Ever wondered how rad people are so rad?” asks animator Adam Black’s new film. “Now, being rad is easier than ever! Simply follow these steps and you too could be one of those rad people out there.” How To Be Rad opens with meditations on what defines a “rad” person from a selection of disembodied voices accompanied by a chaotic but mesmerising, array of morphing part-human, part-Frankenstein bodies.
The UI/UX design student “and wannabe animation artist” lives in Cape Town, where “I spend most of my time between uni and my bedroom/studio at home,” he says. We caught up with Adam Black to find out more.
Where did you learn animation? How long have you been working at it?
I have always been interested in making illustrations since I was a little kid. In 2014, while I was studying a foundation diploma in fine art, I discovered 3D software and started making 3D illustrations, mainly of buildings and characters. After messing around for a couple weeks and watching a million YouTube tutorials I started making basic animations out of these objects. I think this is what spurred my initial interest for animation, but I guess I started to really get into it last year. As part of my degree in Human Computer Interaction, I had to choose between photography and animation as an elective, and I decided to go with animation. This course was mainly focused on After Effects, which really got me psyched on 2D animation and from there I spilled over into Photoshop and started doing some cel stuff and making sound effects in Ableton, and before I knew it, animation had become something that I was spending more time on than my major.
Explain the concept behind your latest animation How To Be Rad.
It was actually a uni project and the brief was to create an explainer video. I didn’t want to go down the ‘commercial infographic’ route as I knew I wanted to make something funny and a bit strange. At the time I was doing some studies on existentialism and psycho analysis, which got me onto the the idea of creating a sarcastic self help video. The animation explores the general character traits of the extroverted ‘dude-bro’, oblivious to the social constructs imprisoning him. It’s also just poking a bit of fun at that one guy who always thinks he’s way too cool for school, driving around really fast and playing music loud, you know?
What do you think defines your animation style?
I guess I haven’t really thought much about my work as having its own style, as I’ve really only been doing it seriously for a couple years. I try hard not to take my work too seriously and overthink things as this usually leads to me creating something quite bland, so I tend to generally work quite quickly and roughly and then refine my work from there. I also try and be funny through my work and poke fun at the seriousness of day-to-day life.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I think a lot of my inspiration comes from silly conversations with friends, the strange suburb that I live in (very much like a David Lynch film), strange encounters I have with people, contemporary consumer culture, social stereotypes, you know?
Finally, what else are you working on at the moment?
Just wrapping up my degree in Human Computer Interaction and I’m also working on an animated music video for a band called Kagoule (super duper cool and definitely worth a check!).
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