What I do
I am a model maker at Aardman, so it’s my job to make the puppets that you see on screen. I get to make everything from sheep to pirates, Wallace and Gromit, and even talking fish! I also get to travel around the country running model-making workshops and doing animation talks. It’s great! I get to play for a living!
How I got my job
I graduated from university in Wales after studying animation and was very fortunate to get work straight away in a small animation company in Cardiff. My first job was really varied and it meant that I got to do a bit of everything, from driving a van and buying paint to armature making (the frames that the models are built around) and modelling monsters. Although it wasn’t well-paid, I gained a great deal of experience and confidence.
What I love about my job
I love the variety! Depending on what the project is, I could be doing anything. Some days are spent sanding sheep legs and mixing paint, and on other days I can be sculpting beards on pirates or putting spines on a porcupine. I also get to work with lots of interesting people like directors and storyboard artists, who show me what the puppets need to do, and props and set-builders who help me make sure that the farmer can fit through the front door of his house!
What’s difficult about my job
Every project is different and offers its own set of problems. Sometimes it can be technically very difficult to build a working puppet that can produce the performance you need for the film that it’s going to be a part of. The Were-Rabbit was a massive challenge as he had to be so big and was really furry. Wallace also had to transform into the Were-Rabbit (sorry if you haven’t seen the film!), which was a real challenge. Making puppets like that is a team effort and it is good fun to think of ideas and come up with the solution.
Where to start
The best piece of advice to anyone who would like to work in stop-motion is keep playing. I played with modelling clay as a child and never really stopped! There is a lot of animation software out there now that is available to anyone with a computer, tablet or mobile phone and there are great books and internet forums to get loads of great advice from. You don’t need to have a multi-million pound studio to produce amazing bits of animation, although it helps – a lump of clay or a pile of LEGO can make brilliant stuff on its own! Why not try animating yourself?