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Interview: Izzy Burton

Concept Artist and Art Director at Blue Zoo, Izzy Burton talks about her award winning short animation “Via,” how she developed her style and how she’d like to tell stories in the future…

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A study of a photo of El Paso in 1972 from the US National Archives

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Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Izzy

Hi! I’m Izzy Burton; I’m a twenty-four year old Concept Artist and Art Director who has been working at Blue Zoo Animation Studio for just under three years. I recently had the opportunity to direct and create my short film “Via” alongside the talented creatives at Blue Zoo, and it’s currently doing very well on the festival circuit.

“Via” short film produced at Blue Zoo

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Tell us about your award winning short film “Via.” What was that process like from start to finish?

Izzy

Blue Zoo runs briefs for short films twice a year and I’d been pitching at every brief since I arrived at Blue Zoo - my first pitch was after I’d been there just two months! Unfortunately I’d never won a pitch vote, so I went to Tom at Blue Zoo and told him my short film idea and how I was going to try make it as much as possible on my own in any spare moments in between client work and he let me run with it, which was incredible. So I spent eighteen months finding any moment I could to make “Via” and grabbing help from my colleagues when I could. It meant sometimes months passed with no work, but it gave the story room to breathe and I learnt a lot by trying to do as many of the jobs myself, so it worked out really well.

via short film izzy burton

“Via” short film produced at Blue Zoo

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Who has had the biggest influence over you and your art?

Izzy

My style has evolved over the years, but that moment when I felt like I had found a way to draw was when I was creating my University final year film which was based on 1960s cartoons. I researched 1960s illustrators like Miroslav Sasek and all the design elements of the 60s for the art direction, and my style formed this geometric, lasso tool feel to fit that and I loved it, so I kept drawing like that. Now I rely on the lasso tool less, but my work still has those bold shapes so I guess Miroslav Sasek was my biggest influence. But I also have a soft spot for illustrator Shaun Tan; his work is so emotive and fantastical.

via short film izzy burton

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How do you create your art? What tools, techniques and materials do you use?

Izzy

Most of my art is made in Photoshop. I have collected various Photoshop brushes over the years, made my own and adapted ones I’ve bought, but mostly I use Kyle Webster’s brushes. Like I said above, I use the lasso tool a lot to block out main shapes and then paint softer over the top of those shapes. I also realised I love using ink after participating in last year’s Inktober.

izzy burton forest shadows sketch

In The Forest Shadows, a test to use mostly just a sketch brush to make this image

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When do you find you are at your most productive? Are you an early bird, or a night owl?

Izzy

I’m definitely an early bird. Every day when I wake up I want to stay in bed, but if I wake up early and go for a swim I’m much more productive … if I have a lie in, I just get a headache and I’m sluggish all day. Swimming definitely helps me wake up and feel refreshed, and I try to avoid caffeine as much as possible.

inktober fierce boat izzy burton

An ink drawing for my self-initiated prompt “Fierce” for Inktober 2018

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What artistic skill or style do you most envy? What would you like to learn in the future?

Izzy

I really want to become better at character artwork. I’m so envious of people that can use such simple line work to depict such appealing characters! I think I need to put some time in learning anatomy and practising simple shape language, but that’s what I’d love to learn.

ink drawing for inktober 2018 izzy burton

ink drawing for Inktober 2018

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If you had no limits on time or budget, what would your ideal project be?

Izzy

I really want to create a short film that is cinematic in feel, so that when you watch it, even though it’s illustrative, you forget that and just see this epic movie. I’d also like to make a project that has more dialogue between people, like in a live action film, because that’s something I’ve not done. I think that would be really fun.

meadow dog izzy burton photo study

Meadow Dog, started out as a photo study and added extra details (like the dog!)

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Is there any advice you could give to someone who wants to make a living from art?

Izzy

I never thought art was a feasible job but here I am with a salary for drawing! I just found that through my life I kept trying to pull away from art because I was scared but my passion kept dragging me back. I’ve worked incredibly hard to be here. So I believe if you have a passion to create and you put in the hard work, it’s 100% doable - potential, passion, practice, persistence and patience.

norway doodle izzy burton

A fantastical version of Norway, doodle

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What are your artistic ambitions?

Izzy

I just want to tell stories whether that’s through art, film, animation or writing. So I just hope that whatever I’m doing throughout my life, and whatever path I take, I can still be telling stories. I’d love to direct a film or TV series one day; I think that’s my ultimate goal.

sea creature blue izzy burton brother

My brother Freddie and my dog Alfie exploring the deep and finding huge sea creature and monsters lurking there!

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What can we expect to see from you next? Any cool projects we should look out for?

Izzy

I’d like to try to start that cinematic short film I mentioned above … I’m going to start learning Toon Boom, so if I manage to animate well I can create the entire film on my own. It will take a long time, and I’d have to crowdfund for music, voice artists and sound design, but I’d love to give it a go!

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