Character Design: Pumpkin Heads and Apple Heads

American artist, Ray Villafane, carves pumpkins into a variety of character heads. Check out the pictures here. Happy Hallowe’en!

What he may or not realise is that he is following in a very old tradition of folk art. In the past, toys were a luxury that many working people couldn’t afford to pay for – so they made their own. Apples were an ideal medium for carving dolls heads out of and this folk art is still practiced in rural America. I have also seen a British example in the V&A’s Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. The Museum of Childhood has an extensive collections of historical toys and is a fantastic resource for ideas for character designs.

I am currently experimenting with apple heads myself, since finding this wild apple on an isolated tree at the top of a mountain in the Pyrennees when I was on holiday this summer. I call her Mrs Applebaum and am using her as the starting point for developing a new character.

P1020206

For One Night Only: CHATTER Thurs 14th July

The latest version of the CHATTER project will be shown at Bar Sequence for one night only on:

6 – 11 PM THURSDAY 14th JULY
 2011
@ Bar Sequence, 43 Essex Road, London, N1 2SF
http://www.barsequence.com

This evolving installation of animated talking heads investigates meaningless blather and the babble of crowds, reminiscent of conversations on Facebook or Twitter. Created by media artist, Birgitta Hosea, it includes crowd-sourced contributions from international artists and animators*.

Bar Sequence CHATTER invite 2011

 

*Isak Ãkerlund | Daniel Arce | Javier Barboza | Maliha Basak | Adriani Bastouni | Laura Cechanowicz | Lisa Chung | Chris Colman  | Cecilia De Jesus | Silvia Villar Espina | Seti Erfan | Pru Feria | FF | Safiya Greensword | Birgitta Hosea | Chen Huang | Mark Jackson | Daisy Jacobs | Miguel Jiron | Ashley Jones | Gregory Jones | Patrick Jones | Linda Jules | Amy Lee Ketchum | Brandon Lake | Hannah Lau-Walker | Karl Lawson | Yang Liu | (Emily) Chunhui Meng | Prakash Mohanty | Stefano Morandin | Louis Morton | Ourania Mourta | Rodrigo Ortiz | Eric Tortora Pato | Ignasi Pi-Sunyer | Stephan Pretorius | Silvia Sardellaro | Emma Shorey | Tom Sito | Frankie Swan | Natasha Tonkin | Jovanna Rebecca Tosello | Sam Watterson  | Josh Wedlake | Christopher Wilder | Dan Wilson | (Michelle) Hsiu-chi Yang | Krisztina Zaja | Ying Zhang

Video of First CHATTER Installation in LA, 2010

Finally, here is a video of the first version of the installation in the USC Cinematic Arts Gallery. It’s always quite hard to document video installations because of the light levels, but this gives an overall impression of the space, the different languages and accents spoken by the animated characters and of the experience of moving around the video monitors and wall projections. ‘It’s like being in a really noisy party’, said one of the attendees at the private view.

Setting up the show

Thanks to USC Cinematic Arts gallery manager Lisa Mann and her team who built the show – Herb, Gary, Carl and everyone else. Also thanks to Laura and Javier who also helped out.

USC Cinematic Arts Gallery side entrance
Birgitta with Chatter poster in the lobby outside the gallery
Before: the empty gallery
Lisa, Gary and Carl discuss the electrics
Rigging the speakers, projectors and DVD players
Rigging and screen construction
Rigging the projectors
Javier preparing the monitor stands
Starting to get there

How to make polite conversation

What do you say to people to pass the time of day? Do you talk about the weather? Do you ask them how they are?

Maybe you have an animated character that you have created for another project to recycle for this one?

Here are some examples of the kinds of random phrases that I have pulled out of language text books and am making my character say:

  • “I steal a few hours now and then for a good book. What do you like to do to enjoy yourself?”
  • “Seeing is believing. If your eyes are bad, you ought to have them seen to.”
  • “Don’t scratch that spot – it’ll only get worse.”
  • “The small electric motors used in vacuum cleaners, hair driers, food mixers, electric drills and so on need very little maintenance.”

Here are some websites for inspiration with your dialogue that tell you how to make polite conversation: