Art, // April 9, 2015
Inga Markstrom — ARTIST
Interview with artist Inga Markstrom —
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Inga Markstrom. I am a self-taught, no-budget, stop-motion animator, currently living in Olympia, WA. I create visual projections or “visualscapes” as I like to call them for live performances. I make animations created from made-in-the-moment stories by children and adults. I also animate music videos of which are suitable for kids of all ages.
2. Why art?
Art has taken the place of the traveler that I once was. It allows me to create and revisit worlds that I would otherwise never experience. Through animation I get to experience new dimensions, colors, sounds, textures and places. It is a fantastical miniature world of my own creation.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
There wasn’t a specific moment that I can remember. My mother got me drawing as soon as I could hold a Crayon and since then I have always made some kind of art or other. It was my main source of entertainment growing up and still is to this day. Even if it wasn’t my main focus, I’ve always made art. In my early twenties I did a bit of traveling. During this time I never went anywhere without my drawing journal and whenever I had a free moment I would draw whatever was around me.
Drawing has always helped ease my anxiety in social situations. After a few years of taking my drawing journal with me wherever I went I decided to start a regular craft night with a friend of mine and we invited other socially awkward artists who we’d seen around town to come over and be social in a way that was comfortable for all of us. It was during these craft nights that I came up with some of my best ideas. I started to take my art seriously then and began thinking up ways I could share it with other people.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
I have always been fond of creating alternate realities. I love fantastical worlds and surrealism, Fairy Tales and anything out of the ordinary. A lot of my animations have animals in them because most of my story tellers are children and children LOVE animals. But I would really like to start creating worlds entirely imagined -the more ridiculous and humorous the better! Something kids of all ages would enjoy.
Most of my animations are made from clip art, books, magazines or whatever else I can find. They are cut-out pieces from which I animate using a Canon Rebel T1i Dslr camera and a program called Dragonframe. After I finish shooting all the scenes I need for a given animation I export them as raw files and then upload them into my Final Cut Program where they are spliced and pasted back together until they flow with the audio file. During this time I will also play with the colors, sizes, and various other effects offered in this program. I even do a bit of layering.
Since I don’t have a budget, I work with what I’ve got, which often means I work with images I’ve found and cut-outs made out of various types of paper. I pick whatever seems to fit the story I’m working on at the time, but I also use images that strike me to be a little out of the ordinary to give it more of a surreal effect.
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
I usually only collaborate with one or two other people at a time. Either with a musician or a story teller (or both) for a given project. I prefer working with children.
I record their stories in-the-moment with a hand held field recorder without having any previous discussion about what their story is going to be about, just that I will be making it into an animation later on. Then I just turn on the field recorder and wait to hear what they come up with.
When they are finished and I have all the audio I will need to make at least one animation. I then take the recorded stories back to my computer and separate them into individual tracks. I pick the one I like best and I write it out on a separate piece of paper, like a script, with a list of characters and other images that I will likely need to complete the animation. At this point I may also add a soundscape if I think it will fit well with the story.
The next several days to weeks involves a lot of sorting and cutting out of images as close to the line as possible. Then I start mapping out the scenes and do all the last minute preparations (i.e. trimming, blacking out edges and taping or pasting specific pieces together) before I start shooting the animation.
6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
Henry Darger‘s inspired world and (never fully released) book, “In The Realms of The Unreal”; surrealist artists Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo; Children’s book illustrators John R. Neill (of the “OZ” books), John Tenniel (“Alice in Wonderland”/ “Through The Looking Glass”), Maurice Sendak (“Where The Wild Things Are”), Andrew Lang’s (color) Fairy Book illustrations, Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone (“Dean’s Mother Goose Book of Rhymes”); animators Jan Švankmajer (“Alice”), Independent animator Christiane Cegavske (“Blood Tea And Red String”), Ladislaw Starewicz (“The Tale Of The Fox”); Cut-out animator Lawrence Jordan (“Carabosse”) and Terry Gilliam (“Monty Pythons Flying Circus”).
I am also inspired by the eighties saturday morning children’s show “Pee Wee’s Play House”(i.e. the “Penny Cartoon”); lastly, many of my dearest friends that I have or plan to collaborate with and the many children that surround us every day: Check out what they are doing! It’s important to witness, experience their brilliant little minds at work.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
The responses where people don’t really know what to think. Where they must watch one of my animations over and over to really let it sink in. When they say something was really “trippy”, “Strange” or “weird” and they keep coming back to it, then I know I’ve done my job right.
“Its like watching Salvador Dali watching Monty Python on cough Syrup”
-VJ PsyScotti, Vimeo
(commenting on Unruhen/I. Markstrom Collaboration) — https://vimeo.com/80707450
8. What do you like about your work?
I like that by turning children’s stories into animations I am also building up the confidence in that child. I have often found that (while recording) a child may suddenly lose confidence in their story or not know what to say next or even put themselves down. When they do this I will be patient with them and encourage them to keep going. Then I will edit out the parts where they paused or expressed doubt and later show them the final product, to which they are immediately proud of their work and are happy to share it with others. Further inspiring them to continue creating new stories and encourage others to do the same. It really makes what I do all the more worthwhile.
9. What advice would you give to other artists?
Never give up on something that brings you happiness.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I see myself working more and more with children, helping them develop their own voice. Maybe even starting up an out door children’s cinema with regular animation screening for kids (by kids) in my neighborhood or on tour. I also hope to eventually start drawing all of my own cut-outs myself and maybe even getting into three dimensional animation.
Story Book: https://vimeo.com/69723322
“Thee Mermaid’s Tale”: https://vimeo.com/61238147
“Welcome To Mars!”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OylL4W74rXo
“Hide And Seek”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ve7ANCPJsA
“Dark Jewels”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFopa318BSg
“Cavern Of The Mutatiomancer”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN15yvFIl8o