Jelly Presents: Inès Pagniez

Inès Pagniez is a French animation director and illustrator who is primarily known for her charming character work in plasticine. We sat down to chat to her about her tactile craft, how humour influences all her concepts, and her recent win of 'Most Promising Illustrator' at the 2022 Creative Circle Awards...

Wednesday 10 April 2024

What inspired you to get into illustration and animation?

As a kid I was into comics and cartoons, then later I became inspired by satirical illustrators and even stand up comedians. My dad is a fan of comics, and there are comics everywhere at my parents’ house. I have always drawn since I was a little kid. I even made a comic when I was around 7/8 years old to convince my parents to get us a dog. Which I am proud to say, worked.

What do you like most about what you do?

I am happy that I found a form to express myself and my ideas. I like to work with my hands and enjoy the craft side of it. It’s so different to working on the computer where you can easily start again and again with Ctrl + Z. With animation you need to really think ahead about what you're doing because you can't easily go back.

^ 'My Small Kitchen Conversion' for The Financial Times. See the project here.

Which of your projects stands out most to you and why?

Maybe the short film ‘24 Days of Torture’ that I made in 2016. It was the first time I officially started to work with plasticine for the backgrounds. I loved working in a team, writing the story, the voice over, and seeing it becoming a little film. It was hard work and many late nights. It still makes me laugh.

I always write my ideas on my phone, whenever I think of something, and later on I look at it. That was also the case for this film, which I wrote in 2011. Advent calendars are fun for kids but it must feel like agony for the chocolates, especially the ones in the last days!

I collaborated with my friend Victoria Jardine. Colin Bigelow was art directing it and Paul Torris was lead 2D animator. We wanted to have the background in plasticine and 2D characters with 2D FX. It was selected at multiple festivals across the world including Rhode Island and London International, and it won a few awards too.

Another project I also really enjoyed was working with The Financial Times. It was fun to make a proper kitchen for the cover of the weekend issue. See that here.

Much of your work is lighthearted and relatable. Where does that come from?

We always make jokes in my family, we're never really serious and hide behind this comic tone. I guess I just talk about what I know. I must have a pretty relatable life haha.

What are the events that have pushed you and your craft?

Winning awards as an animation director and later as an illustrator - like last year winning Most Promising Illustrator at Creative Circle, and having my work shown at festivals like Pictoplasma - is always a nice little push for me to make new projects.

How have your style, approach and outlook evolved since you started out?

The more space I have in my studio, the more I can be ambitious with the sets and animation. So I am excited about the new projects I'll make now that I have a proper studio.

I studied 3D animation directing at Supinfocom in France and worked for 10 years as a 3D animator in some of the best animation studios in London and Bristol - including Aardman, who I am a huge fan of.

Then I decided that I wanted to work more with my hands and that’s when I started to work with plasticine. Being in the animation industry for so long was a big help in this transition.

Do you have any current interests that are inspiring you or feeding into your work?

I am really interested in pregnancy/postpartum at the moment as it is something I have experienced for the last 2 years, and there is definitely a lot to say about this.

I am working on a series of illustrations/gifs about postpartum and my experience, which should come out soon. There are some really unexpected effects of pregnancy I had no idea about that I like to talk about in comedic ways - like how you can make a scarf out of your new mum breasts!