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In conversation with: Maisy Dainty

Maisy graduated from BA (Hons) Illustration in 2023. Her creative practice is largely centred around the environment and depicts the protection of, and her connection with, the surrounding landscape.

In this blog, Maisy discusses how she has explored animation to create moving images of her illustrations and her experience exhibiting at New Designers.

Why did you choose to study at Norwich University of the Arts?

Norwich has a close-knit nature and connectedness between the students, tutors and support team. Starting university and moving away can be quite a daunting process, but the fact that Norwich is smaller, yet part of a city campus, meant I was more able to connect with the people and place.

I also applied to BA (Hons) Animation at Norwich because I knew this was the right University for me. At first, I couldn’t decide which course to join, but looking back I am pleased with how creative and free I could be on the Illustration course as this option allowed me to experiment and blend my two interests.

How would you describe being a student at Norwich?

My experience as a student has probably been different to most with it being partly online during the first two years of my degree, due to the pandemic. It was challenging at first to adjust to life and learning through a screen but as access to studios increased, I felt I really thrived in the classroom spaces.

Sharing experiences and studio time with my friends meant we were able to learn together, and grow into independent and unique illustrators.

What path did your creative practice take whilst studying here?

I learnt a tremendous amount about myself and what my creative practice could be during my time at Norwich. I found new ways of working, learning to take my traditional painting skills into the digital realm by applying myself to complex Adobe software and pushing my work into new territories.

There was no better opportunity to break the boundaries of illustration than through the collaborative project in my second year. In that project, we were given the opportunity to collaborate with an outside partner, which for me was the Norfolk Broads Authority.

I developed a series of three animated travel posters focusing on important species that live in the landscape throughout different times of the year. I wanted to turn my illustrations into moving images to show how amazing all the animals I saw on my visit to the Broads were, and by animating them – I could bring them to life!

This unit helped to prepare me to work in collaboration with an external partner and resulted in my first commission after University! After applying to an artist call-out, I was chosen to work with the Time and Tide Museum after they saw these illustrations.

I am currently in the process of expanding my work from my second year and am once again partnering with the Norfolk Broads to develop railway posters to promote sustainable travel. The course has been so useful when it comes to developing my skills and understanding of being part of the creative industry.

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You can view Maisy’s animations on her website.

You are clearly drawn towards animation. What sparked your interest in exploring moving image?

Throughout my time at University, I found myself being drawn to turning my illustrations into moving images. But my animation journey started when I was at primary school where I would create stop-motion animations in my garden with LEGO.

I’ve always loved the creative process of stop-motion animation by creating a scene and adjusting the slightest of details to gradually tell a story full of life! This approach has evolved and adapted into a digital way of working, where I now use Procreate and Adobe After Effects to create my stop-motion style, 2D animations.

Despite how well animation is supported by modern technologies, I still absolutely love the process of drawing frame by frame. There is something so organic and creative about the hand-drawn process, which is how I create the majority of my animations.

“It was such a pleasure seeing myself and my friends become more confident promoting our work and ourselves as artists and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the fantastic Illustration Class of 2023!”

Maisy Dainty

I use Procreate and work by slightly adjusting each frame, meaning I can have fun playing around with the smaller details such as whiskers bouncing up and down, or a tail swaying from side to side. Being able to focus on these smaller elements is what I think helps make my animations charming and whimsical.

One of my favourite places to find inspiration for my animations is through ‘The Art of…’ books. I find these to be full of creativity and beautiful visuals for characters, scenes and environments. These books are a great way to get a better insight into the behind the scenes of some of my favourite films including Disney’s Coco and UP. It is a great way to learn more about other illustrators/animators’ creative processes and development for an animation.

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What’s your favourite piece of work that you have produced?

My favourite animation I have worked on was for my final third year project. I initially set myself a goal of developing a 30-45 second long animation that followed a documentary style, depicting the importance of certain Scottish species where I live.

This developed naturally over the course of five months into a short film that was two minutes and ten seconds long, which focused on my personal connection with the landscape. It depicts what I have learnt about myself, the incredible species in Scotland and their importance for the process of ‘rewilding’, a type of conservation.

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You were selected to exhibit at New Designers. What work did you show and how did you find the event in general?

My short film, titled ‘Our Journey’, was selected to be part of the Illustration display at New Designers in London. It was such an honour to be picked to exhibit, but also to help curate the stall.

The first few days setting up the event was so exciting as we were eager to start bringing all the work together. I am really proud of the colourful and vibrant stall we curated and how we were able to show each student as an individual as well as our class as a whole.

Opening day was a fantastic start and exploring the other stands was such an eye-opening experience. I had the chance to talk to some exceptionally talented students from other Universities and learnt about other techniques I had never heard of before.

Overall, the event was an incredible way to end my degree as I received lots of support from my friends, other graduates and industry professionals who came to visit.

See more of Maisy’s work on her website or Instagram.

Want to know more about BA (Hons) Illustration?