Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexis Deprey and Scott DaRos.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Scott and I met during the walkthrough portion of my job interview for a graphic artist position at a local furniture store. It was just after I graduated college and it was my first professional artist opportunity. Scott had already been working there for about two years when I came in for the interview, we had both been recommended for positions by our college professor at the University of Connecticut where we each showed some interest in animation and stop-motion. Scott dabbled in 2D animation and had experimented with clay animation because of his love for “Creature Comforts” as a kid, and I shifted from paper cutout illustrations to building puppets, sets and costumes for 3D illustrations (destroying my childhood Barbie furniture in the process). Our professor connected us with the furniture store because our eventual boss and mentor was using stop-motion to create advertisements there. Despite having been students in the same small illustration program, Scott and I had never crossed paths before my job interview and from the moment that we met – I knew I was in trouble.
During our time collaborating on furniture ads and staying late to do personal work, we realized that not only did we appreciate each other’s work, but also that we were super into each other! We dated “secretly” until we moved in together and told our very unsurprised boss about our very not secret romance. Thankfully it wasn’t a problem and we continued working there while also using what we learned from our boss to create goofy side projects in the spare bedroom of our apartment. The first project we did that involved some form of a production schedule was an open call for a Doritos Superbowl commercial. Scott created the puppet, animated, directed and lit the project while I designed and created the hero prop and handled the cleanup/ VFX. That animation didn’t do much for us publicly, but it eventually helped us move on from the furniture store to the animation studios here in LA where we learned the ropes of major stop-motion productions.
After the Doritos spot, our roles with each other generally remained the same. We still spent our time making our goofy side projects until we decided that it made sense to do client work. We just wanted to make things where we were in total control of how it looked, and it’s difficult to do that on large studio productions. We deeply care about the design and quality of our work and we’ve informed each other’s sensibilities over the years. We have very similar habits for color and shape language and through our relationship and similar visual interests, we’ve naturally merged our aesthetics over time. Depending on the project, we alternate or share the main creation and direction of the concept, although I now take on more up-front responsibilities after realizing the importance of a good producer to keep projects on-time and within a budget. We’ve been together for ten years (married for three) and we’ve figured out how to create together while also working on our relationship, that way when disagreements arise (because they always do in a creative atmosphere), we know how to break them down and work through them without too much judgement or bitterness. We still have conflicts when we’re not communicating effectively, but we’re able to iron those out and we’re always excited to deliver a project together.
Please tell us about your art.
Our main focus has been clay animation. We love it and unfortunately, it’s become a rarity in the world of animation. Clay calls for a unique blend of skill sets that not everyone is interested in tackling. It requires that animators also be sculptors, it takes a lot longer than most stop-motion, and it poses a lot of other technical challenges that don’t fit with today’s tight production schedules. The plus side is the huge range of how anything made with clay can move or be reshaped. It doesn’t require expensive tools or materials- a small pack of clay can become anything, all it takes is huge amounts of patience and care. It also has a unique feel that helps our work stand out because there aren’t many creators who are using clay animation.
Though clay is our favorite, everything stop-motion is exciting for us because we love handmade stuff and the challenge of working with it. With stop-motion you can always see evidence of human tinkering – fingerprints, dust, paint drips, imperfect movements, etc. It requires physically handling real objects and fighting with things like weight, tension, and materials. Coming up with creative solutions for those problems is something that we enjoy! That also lends itself to styling the environment and supplemental FX animation with the handmade qualities of the puppet and animation so that the heroic moments are supported and not undercut by pseudo-realistic spaces and FX.
Our inspiration comes from “people watching” and creating narratives around the personalities and scenarios we imitate and observe. We think people can be delightfully and unintentionally hilarious simply by dealing with the difficulties of being a human. We love taking in the quiet and mundane moments when people think no one is watching and are just being themselves (like picking their nose or absently scratching something). We’re also children of the 90s who watched a lot of TV – we will always love the bold colors and wild animation styles of the time. It’s even more exciting to us when we can try to replicate the shooting style and effects that occurred in filmmaking before the digital processes were introduced. In our most recent project, we watched a lot of campy 90s sci-fi dramas to get a feel for what kind of lighting was being done so that we could nail the overall vibe we were going for. Riffing on the stylings of the time and merging them with our design aesthetic is super fun to do and it naturally makes our work more playful – a “yes, and” to what we love and where we want to go visually. We want people to enjoy the characters we create and a little bit of tongue-in-cheek nostalgia when they see our work.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
A major challenge for artists today is balancing the work that they love with the work that they need to do to stay afloat. Artists usually want creative control over whatever it is that they’re working on, but most of those jobs require making creative sacrifices to address notes and meet quick turnarounds. It’s a struggle to find ways to carve out time to add that little extra flair and avoid delivering a product that doesn’t meet your artistic standards. Pushing hard like that can be rewarding but also lead to creative burnout, which means any personal or passion projects will get put off until maybe after the next job comes and goes. As the balance shifts and artists do more jobs and less personal projects, they might fall out of love and dread their work. As artists, we always want to put our best work out into the world, but it can be exhausting! Like everyone else these days, we’re also aiming to find the right work/life/creative balance to keep us healthy and happy into the future. It’s a struggle, but it’s worthwhile.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People will find the most content from us on Instagram. That’s where we post our projects and follow up with behind-the-scenes information and photos. Every stop-motion project has its unique set of weird challenges, and we’re thrilled to share our process once we’ve figured that stuff out. We love answering questions and we appreciate any feedback on our work!
- Website: www.threadwood.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @_threadwood
- Other: https://vimeo.com/threadwood