The art of getting weird with Sophie Koko Gate

I first stumbled upon Sophie Koko Gate’s work with her Harvard x Neuroscience film. I was immediately drawn to how freeform it was, both in regards to the design and animation. Sophie’s work is weird, challenging and fun but most importantly it oozes confidence. Sophie’s newest film for Vox, “How technology has changed the definition of death”, builds upon her past successes and does not disappoint.

The following is a mini-interview with Sophie Koko Gate about her process and how she makes such interesting work.

First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, how you got into animation and where your inspiration lies?

Hello! I’m from Bath, I’ve been living in London but now I’ve relocated to Berlin! I did a graphic design degree but wasn’t really killing it in the logo department. One day I opened up Flash and animated a bubble snogging another bubble — and that was it, I had found my vocation!

I remember watching this interview with Sally Cruikshank that has basically shaped my entire approach to animation. She’s one of my earliest influences. When I started to explore the world of animation the people who stood out to me were Bruce Bickford, Jan Svankmajer, David Daniels. All of whom are stop motion guys! I’m finding nowadays that my inspiration lies outside the world of animation, it’s easy to get stuck in the animation bubble and it’s important for me to try not to follow certain trends in the scene, as tempting as it is.

Other than that, I was lucky enough to be a child of the 90’s and I’m sure all that cartoon watching has done me a whole world of good.

Your work is unapologetically weird — in the best possible way! There is a distinct confidence in you work. Can you tell us where this comes from and a bit about your creative process?

My style is tailored to suit my drawing abilities, it’s odd looking because I’m not good at drawing realistic things.

That’s why Sally Cruikshank was so important for me, to realise that you didn’t have to draw things as they look — this isn’t a direct quote but she said something like “I’ll draw a duck, it won’t look like a duck to you but to me it’s a duck” —haha. Deep.

I like to think my aim isn’t to necessarily make things look weird but to take advantage of the medium of animation and depict life as an alternate imaginary world!

Finally, what are the types of projects you are looking to take on?

Since I graduated I’ve been lucky enough to get nonstop work, so now I’m going to try and have a break — I’m making a new personal film to follow on from “Half Wet”. It’s called “Casual” and it’s about a girl who comes close to having sex with a snail.

Probably won’t do well on the festival scene but I’m hoping it will stir the stomachs of some.


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About the author

Joe Donaldson

Joe Donaldson is a director, designer, and animator who worked on Motionograpgher from 2014-2020. Previously, he was an art director at Buck. Over the past decade, he's lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles and has directed work for clients such as Apple, Google, Instagram, The New York Times, Unicef, Etsy, and The New Yorker. In addition to his creative work, in 2018 he started Holdframe. He's now working as a professor at Ringling College of Art and Design and when not teaching he can be found spending time with his family or out running.

One Comment

antonio vicentini

love her work. great interview!

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