INTERCHANGE: Eva Sterrett on Inspiration, Feelings, and Creativity

MS: I want to open this by talking about the piece of yours that we featured, “I went on a date like this once. I just want to know—where did such a wild and cool story come from?”

ES: Hah, well, when I was making that one in particular—honestly I don’t like it that much—but at that point in time I was just feeling very sad and lonely, and I just really wanted a dog. I still want a dog. But I was trying to showcase what I was feeling at that time.

That’s really cool, though. It’s nice that something so compact, but also so full of detail can have such a simple origin, as well.

Yeah, I find that most of my ideas come from kind of simple stuff. Most of my ideas come from these tense feelings. Like, whenever I go about creating something it’s always with the intention of making something that people can relate to, or something that’s personal to me. It’s always to remind people that life is worth living and that you can always romanticize the small stuff like having a cup of coffee or going on a drive. I don’t know, it’s just…it’s important to express beautiful things that people take comfort in.

Yeah, I like that. And would you say that you make art more for you or for other people? Or is it kind of, like, both?

I think it goes hand in hand. Because I’m very conscious about what I put out into the world, because it’s the internet—it’s on there forever. So, I care about what people see. And I hope that they see my experiences, and people are able to relate to them.

So, alongside your work in comic writing, you’ve got a lot of experience in animation, as well. And I was wondering how those processes bleed into each other, or if they really do at all.

Well, I’ve made comics all my life—ever since I was little. But I started making comics as a way of visualizing stories that I wanted to be animated. I’ve always been completely enamored by animation, just everything about it. So I feel that trying to translate what I imagine as a moving story into images can be hard.

I think the experience I have in animation can have some advantages as well as disadvantages. I’m constantly thinking of stories as if they were films, so I’m always able to visualize how things can be framed to have the most significance, which can be very good and allow for some really powerful moments. But the downside to doing that is that I can’t rely on other senses. Like, I can’t rely on sound and voice acting. I can’t have a perfectly timed sound effect or something like rain falling. I have to put it into a still image, so that can be a challenge, I think.

I love challenges, though. I love being able to play around with this media more.

Well, they say one of the best things you can do for your work is to put restrictions on yourself—but I never had that in mind when thinking about how comics and animation go into each other. That’s really cool.

I think it’s a common misconception that they are similar. At least, that’s what I’ve read and seen people thinking for a long time, that they can go hand in hand. They can in certain situations, but for the most part there’s a distinct difference.

Moving on—this question’s actually about your piece again, one thing that I love about it and a lot of you work that I’ve seen is how you characterize your subjects really well through dialogue.It’s always really concise, almost sparse. So, I want to know what your process for writing speech is like.

When I make stories, and comics, and animations, I try to focus on feelings. Like, that’s my main thing:what can I get the most emphasis out of, what can I make people feel? So, when creating a film or work that’s based on any feelings or strong emotions, oftentimes an underlying story can be found or created along the way—some sort of loose narrative can be made.

What I do, though, I don’t really write a lot of dialogue. I mostly just focus on the atmosphere I’m trying to project. I try to see if I can tell the story I need to tell with just colors, or drawings, and then if there’s any, I see if I can condense the dialogue even more.

When I do have more dialogue, I try to make it more intimate, if that makes any sense?

Absolutely, yeah.

Yeah, I try to make it feel like a conversation, or if it’s not that, maybe something that’s akin to poetry.

Yeah, there’s a lot of specificity to what you write.

Yeah, so that’s most of my process.

So, a little generic to ask, I know, but who would you say is your biggest artistic influence right now?

Oh, can I have more than one? Because I have so many—I’m obsessed with Jonni Phillips. They’re an animator, and they made this fantastic short called Goodbye Forever Party. I’m also in love with this artist named Victoria Vincent who makes short animations every other month. The way she’s able to tell her stories in an abstract sort of way is amazing. And there’s so many more, like Meredith Gran, who made octopus pie ,she’s just incredible! Ah, there’s so many, I could go on for days. Don’t even get me started on video games I love.

I love how excited you’re getting about the things you like. So, for another question—what are you reading or watching or eating or just generally taking in right now? What’re you obsessed with?

I’ve been studying a lot of movies. The latest film I’ve watched is The Incredibles 2. I went nuts over it. Just the design and movements inspired me in ways that I can’t even explain. I went out and bought the art book after I saw it. I dunno, I take inspiration from a lot of things. Anything that can get a sort of versatile reaction.

Yeah, it’s cool to have simpler things in mind, or things that people might consider mundane as inspiration. I think those are the most important things to draw from because when we make art about them, we make them complicated, and we make them important.

You know—ah, it’s gonna sound so corny—you know Studio Ghibli? One of Miyazaki’s main things was that he wanted to romanticize the little things in life, and make it seem like they’re important. The most mundane activities like riding a bus or getting from one location to another can have an effect on you.

Okay, last thing—where can we find more of your work?

Well, I am on Twitter. and also on Instagram. And I’m also on Tumblr.

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Eva Sterrett is a storyboard artist, animator, visual development artist, character designer and a for fun comic artist. An all around cartoon gal based in NYC.

Author: turnpikemagazine

Turnpike is a literary and art magazine devoted to positive themes and underrepresented voices.

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