PAPER IS PLAY: A cup of tea with Annette Jacobs

Paper is an invitation to get creative, to try things out, and to dream. We were lucky enough to work with a professional paper dreamer who brings true motion to our paper collection: Annette Jacobs is an illustrator and animation artist based in Düsseldorf, Germany, specializing in paper art and stop-motion animation. With her passion for craft and a mix of handmade and digital design techniques, she creates unique visual concepts for social media, screen, and print. In particular, her stop-motion animation art, in which she brings cut-out paper characters to life, boasts bold colors, delightful humor, and playful curiosity. We caught up with Annette for a cup of tea to talk about her life, her creative process, and of course, paper.

PAPER & TEA: How did you get into illustration and animation? Was there a special moment or inspiration that led you to pursue these art forms?

Animation & illustration - that has always been my great passion. My childhood was about tinkering and getting creative. In my youth, I was fascinated by all the cool animations on Nickelodeon and MTV; especially Michel Gondry's stop-motion animations were a revelation to me.

I ended up studying graphic design and illustration in Germany and the US. Here I was able to experiment with many different ideas, techniques, and styles - one of my first major projects in college was indeed a stop-motion animation.

Professionally, I first worked in advertising and design agencies focusing on brand design. In 2016 I finally gave my full attention to my passion for illustration & animation and started my own business with it.

What does your creative process look like? How can we imagine the conception and design of a project like PAPER & TEA?

My creative process always starts with the idea, which I roughly sketch. Then I make digital sketches and determine the shape, color, and image composition. Once everything is in place, I go into detail work and make all the individual parts of the image out of paper.

Finally, I animate these figures in stop-motion technique, which means that I photograph the individual motion sequences and digitally compose them into a video using my animation software. I then digitally edit the final version of the animation, joining the figure to the background, adding text elements, optimizing colors, and adjusting formats.

How did you experience working with PAPER & TEA?

The collaboration was very fluid and allowed me a lot of creative freedom. After brainstorming together, I sat down to work on the designs and made various proposals, which were also immediately well received. Finally, I prepared the designs for the animation and brought them to life using the stop-motion technique.

What was your highlight on this project? Are there any particular elements or details you're most proud of? Were there any challenges in creating the animated clips?

It was especially exciting to get the characters moving.

For the gymnast, I did some yoga exercises and filmed myself doing them to see how the gymnast might move. I transferred these movements to him and had him do some side bends in the animation. 

For the beetle, I studied the movement of the legs in detail using nature footage - leg movement is particularly interesting and very individual for every creature. At first, I made the legs all move in the same rhythm, and funnily enough, this made the beetle look like a turtle. After I had cracked the movement sequence thanks to the nature footage, I was able to authentically imitate it in the animation.

To what extent do paper and tea inspire you as a medium in your work? What special connection do you have to paper?

My paper animations bring a human touch and natural element to our often digital world. Paper gives the animation a haptic quality that makes the animations tangible and memorable. Paper is a medium that everyone knows, and many of us have a personal relationship with. Using paper in animations allows me to infuse my work with a certain warmth and personality.

And about tea: I'm definitely a tea drinker and love that there is a variety for every situation in life - invigorating, relaxing, or restorative - I love them all. I just rediscovered good old rosehip as a tea for me - it's utterly refreshing and has lots of vitamin C.

We thank Annette for the wonderfully detailed interview and the exciting insights into her work. If you want more inspiration, feel free to check out Annette's website for more exciting paper projects. Or try it out yourself: with scissors, paper, and a cell phone camera, you can craft wonderful creations.