June 25, 2020

Tom working on a stop-motion animation set

As my BA Illustration course at Cardiff Met came to an end, I decided that my practice needed a further, more intensive year of study to progress my work into something that I could take forward into the future.

My work revolves around the practice of stop motion animation and the creation of environments and spaces; communicating narratives using cinematography within these built environments. 

On the MA Illustration and Animation course, we were exposed to a broad range of philosophic thoughts, ideas and concepts. These came through lots of different media, from a piece of text, to a seminar from a member of staff within the art school or a passing conversation with another student at CSAD. At times these notions fed directly into my practice, but they were also used to provoke more collaborative and thoughtful discussions with my peers and tutors. 

I progressed the autonomous nature of my practice, taking ownership of a project and its creative decisions. Advice and support were always available either from tutors or from fellow Masters colleagues. I had access to a collaborative support network when things were stressful or when I simply needed guidance. 

A stop motion animation set
One of the sets for my stop-motion film, 73 Moorside Crescent

At times I found myself firmly out of my comfort zone during my MA course. One such occasion was when an Animation tutor encouraged me to apply for funding from the British Film Institute and the BBC. There was no specific criteria for accessing the funding, other than being a new and emerging animator.

I applied and sent across an idea for a short animation I was developing, and was lucky enough to be one of twenty shortlisted candidates. I was invited to London to pitch the project to a panel of people.

Although I was not successful in securing the funding, this project became my final masters film entitled 73 Moorside Crescent. Without the encouragement and support of my tutor, I firmly believe my film would not have been as successful and important to my studies as it was.

I remember on one of the final days of the course Amelia, Head of the MA Illustration course, told me that I should continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and to not be afraid. Her words of advice have stayed with me ever since, and encouraged me when developing my own practice and new work. 

Since graduating from my MA, I have returned to CSAD to deliver a lecture to current Illustration and Animation students about my practice, research and methodologies during the course.  

Tom delivering a lecture to Cardiff Met students
Returning to CSAD to give a Guest Lecture

In early 2019 I wrote a short essay for a leading Animation Studies Blog site  about the creation of my MA film and its synergy with research into memory.

Furthermore, an Animation Tutor sent me an opportunity to become an animation practitioner with the Lead Creative School Scheme. This scheme partners artists and creative individuals with schools to deliver a bespoke programme of learning.

I successfully applied for the role and collaborated with a Primary School in Newport, working with a Year 5 teacher to devise and deliver a 13-week animation project. This project not only focused on the process of stop motion animation but encompassed other areas of the Welsh Curriculum like Literacy, Numeracy and ICT.

The children who took part in this project had the opportunity to create their own five-minute animation about climate change and a sustainable future. 

This opportunity has sparked an interest in education and teaching for me. I currently work as an Art, Design and Technology Technician in a secondary school, and have aspirations to begin my teacher training in the near future. 

Standing in front of children and students to talk about Animation and Art and Design would have been an anxious experience before my Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses at Cardiff Met. The MA Illustration/Animation course has given me the confidence, support and knowledge to be able to carve out a career that I am passionate about pursuing. 

Find out more about Tom and his work at his website