Artist Spotlight: I Saw John First

by The Adobe Stock Team

Posted on 02-19-2018

To celebrate the second of the It’s Nice That Nicer Tuesdays 2018 series we caught up with the brain behind I Saw John First, animator John Christian. John directed the first video released as part of Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack Steadman’s new solo project, Mr Jukes. The project is an album of collaborations with a range of different artists. This first track has been created with BJ The Chicago Kid.

Here, we delve deeper into his current projects and how he got into animation!

Adobe: Tell us a bit about you and what you do?

John Christian: My name is John Christian aka “I Saw John First”. I am a mix between a lot of things but primarily a director who started doing both miniature models and weird animated short films. I live in and am originally from Norway, but I’ve been going back and forth between Oslo and London for the last 7-8 years.

A: How did start a career in animation?

JC: Straight after university I did another degree in moving imagery at St Martins, London. I then went back to Norway to take a break but found myself working as a photographer’s assistant during this period. By being an assistant, I had free time to make small props and sets, which led me to get into a production company in Norway called “Animation Department”. Parallel with working in production for ads as a model maker I started doing music videos which lead to more directorial work. It all happened quickly, I wouldn’t say I knocked on 100 doors but I would say I’m still climbing that ladder.

A: Who inspires you? Or who inspired you?

JC: Oh, that’s a tough question! Too many people! But if I had to name someone or something, it would be Miyazaki (The main director at Ghibili). Him and maybe the classic obvious one, Michel Gondry. They are a good mix!****

A: What interests you the most about the creative industry?

JC: I think it’s the fact that it’s existed for a very long time and it never seems to be done. It just never finishes. Things often go full circle in terms of inspiration and creativity. For example, I believe we’re in a nostalgic time period where things are looking back at previous periods for comfort and familiarity. But, even during nostalgic periods, we’re always rewriting – not copying – the past. The time vacuum of everything makes the industry very cool! Also, the fact that you get to express through non-verbal communication intrigues me.

A: Which Creative Cloud App is the most useful to you?

JC: Easily Photoshop and After Effects! The classics.

A: What is the biggest highlight of your career so far and why?

JC: Hmm… I’d have to say it was when I won the pitch for Coldplay. Not only because they’re a huge name, but the fact that they trusted me – it was a nice feeling. It just proves you can still be the little guy and get recognised.

JC: It was fairly straightforward. I think the ideas that I presented connected with them. The message they wanted to convey wasn’t just about making cool stuff. It was about making something with an afterthought. I grabbed their attention somehow and I’m glad I did.

A: Are you working on anything fun at the moment?

JC: I just finished a secret project for an American film but I can’t say anything more than that *laughs*

A: Do you think Stock helps with the pace of your workflow?

JC: I think it definitely helps with the pace. I’ve used a few stock images and they were super helpful! I keep dreaming about using locations that none of my jobs have the budgets for. If I wanted to travel the world in 20 seconds and put it into my work I could do that with Adobe Stock. I view Google maps pretty much all the time just to see places, but I think with the use of Adobe Stock I could make a travel documentary without ever going anywhere! Which is the dream!

A: What would you Photoshop into your life and why?

JC: To be honest, I think I would make everything into an Hayao Miyazaki film. I’d give every texture more of a glow-y feel, every tree would be a bit more animated and everything would have a bit more magical realism.

A: What’s your favourite animated character or film?

JC: Good question! Hmm… I think I may need go a bit local for this. There’s this Norwegian film called “Pinchcliffe Grand Prix” which is a 70s stop motion film. There’s this hedgehog there called Ludvig and he’s a timid, sceptical little hedgehog that’s afraid of everything. I think he’s a pretty good character, most thought through, fleshed out, three-dimensional character.

A: If you weren’t a successful animator, what do you think you’d be?

JC: I think I’d be doing music. I’d probably be both singing and playing lots of instruments. Every time I do a new project I buy a new instrument but never get around to playing it because I never have the time! But I have this idea to get a park somewhere, filled with instruments that I can at least retire and make random music.

A: What’s next? Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline?

JC: There are a couple of “normal” projects, as in ads and music videos coming up. But I want to start making short films that lead to me making feature films at some point.

A massive thank you to John for being our first Nicer Tuesdays Artist Spotlight for this year! You can follow what he’s up to on his website and Instagram.

Topics: Creativity, Artist Spotlight, John Christian, Nicer Tuesdays, UK, UK Exclusive, Creative EMEA

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