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Seven Little Houses animation for the 4th Annual Aniboom Awards: the inside scoop.

Lesley Barnes and Thereza Rowe talk about their joint submission for the Aniboom animation competition, and the importance of Twitter to illustrators.

Written by Amelia Gregory

When Lesley Barnes found out about the 4th Annual Animboom Awards animation competition in conjunction with Sesame Street (Blimey, try saying that fast!), she just knew she had to work with fellow illustrator Thereza Rowe. The results of their collaboration is this wonderful piece: Seven Little Houses. You can also watch the video here.

Seven Little Houses clouds
Seven Little Houses bottles

Lesley Barnes describes how they approached the Aniboom competition:

One of the competition categories was to design an animation that would help children learn about either colours, shapes, numbers or letters. We chose the number seven as it seemed to give us scope to do a bit of counting without it being a huge number for kids to deal with and for some reason we both agreed that there was something special about an odd number.
We gave the animation a circular feel by creating it around the idea of a day, with the sun at the beginning and the moon at the end. Repetition was key so the narrative turns around lots of groups of seven; the idea being that children will get used to counting 124567 and begin to repeat it. As well as having the numbers on screen we included groups of seven objects; seven houses, seven bottles, seven clouds, etc. because it’s easier to visualise the numbers as objects.
The animation was mostly done in after effects and took about a month to finish. My friend Al Paxton, who is a musician in Brooklyn, provided the sound. It was his idea to have the voices (him and his girlfriend) shouting out 1234567 and I think it’s really important because it encourages children to shout out along with the animation.

Lesley Barnes’ illustration for the sShelter Card Quilt.

Thereza Rowe Shelter Card Quilt
Thereza Rowe’s illustration for the Shelter Card Quilt.

Lesley first got in touch with Thereza after admiring the playing card that she designed for my Shelter House of Cards Quilt in 2009, and since then they’ve kept in constant contact via email and twitter. I asked them to write down a few words about each other.

Lesley Barnes on Thereza Rowe:

We both had cards included on Amelia’s final Shelter Card Quilt and Thereza‘s goats – although she now tells me they are deer – were my favourite! Amelia’s Magazine has given us such a great platform for our work: we have been in touch ever since and knew that we wanted to do a collaboration at some point… When I saw the Aniboom Sesame Street competition I thought that Thereza’s textures, colours, shapes, illustration style and personality (including her love of pink milk and bendy straws) would be perfect for it. We started work with Thereza‘s house illustrations and from that we both designed a selection of characters. There were far too many in the end, so the final seven characters were a bit of an amalgamation of our work.
Working with Thereza was ace and the best thing was all the colour that she brought into the animation – my animation can sometimes get a bit monochromatic so it was such a pleasure to work with such a great selection of colours and textures. I also think that Thereza‘s lovely upbeat personality comes through in Seven Little Houses.

Seven Little Houses umbrellas

Thereza Rowe on Lesley Barnes:

When Lesley contacted me for the first time with some nice words about my work and a suggestion that we should collaborate in a future project I was so excited because as soon I set eyes on her stunning animation and illustration work I knew that we would eventually produce something really good together. Since then we have kept in touch whilst keeping an eye out for interesting briefs which would suit our ideas of a collaboration… and so the Aniboom competition came about!
Working with Lesley has been an ongoing joy as she’s creative, diligent, determined and hands on. We both share a similar sense of humour which is very important because it makes the working process a pleasant experience. As the project developed I was amazed to see how the aesthetics of our work just gelled together effortlessly, almost like magic. Surprisingly we have not met in person yet, although it feels like we have….
I am really proud of how she made our illustrations move in such a graceful manner and we’ve been receiving some lovely responses from people who have seen the animation. I’d also like to echo Lesley’s thoughts on the constant support and appreciation of the work we produce that we get from Amelia’s Magazine.

seven little houses
seven little houses people

I also wanted the girls to talk about the importance of Twitter to their collaboration, as I often see conversations between Lesley and Thereza passing through my own Twitter feed: it’s how I found out they were collaborating on the project for Aniboom, and it’s a medium I feel strongly that all illustrators should engage with.

Lesley on Twitter:
Twitter is an easy way of staying in touch and see what each other is up to. When you are a freelancer it’s great for reminding you that you are not completely alone in the world and means you can check out what’s inspiring other people, collaborate with them, get feedback and generally just have a bit of a chat.

Thereza on Twitter:
Using Twitter helped make the collaboration go more smoothly because Lesley and I were always tweeting bits of work in progress to each other and teasing other about what was coming next. I used to be very resistant to using Twitter but now I’m a self proclaimed addict because it’s enabled me to engage with some ace collaborations that otherwise might not have happened.
Twitter is probably the best current social tool for illustrators in terms of networking and establishing links with both the industry and peers as it provides an open channel for direct communication and it’s fab for promoting your own work and the work of others. I love the fact that Twitter is free of advertising and has a nice layout which allows you to customize your page background nicely. I’m really fussy about such factors…
Also, the job of an illustrator can often be a lonely one as we spend a great deal of time confined in our workspaces, well, working… so I tend to have my twitter page open through the day, so it almost feels like having lots of nice people around :)

Both Thereza Rowe and Lesley Barnes appear in Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration.


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3 Responses to “Seven Little Houses animation for the 4th Annual Aniboom Awards: the inside scoop.”

  1. Abi says:

    Not only did I think this was a great animation, but my three year old son did too – the repetition and the images work really well and he was transfixed by it.

    This is a great achievement as it can be quite hard to capture children’s attention on a first viewing so well done to both artists for some great work!

  2. grthink says:

    Great article, and it’s superb to see that Twitter has helped Lesley and Thereza so much.

  3. Amelia says:

    Thanks for the feedback guys: I think it’s a fabulous video! A x

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