Feature: Seattle's Indie Animator Tess Martin

Filmmaker Tess Martin gives new meaning to paper cuts

Category: seattlepi.com teaser headlines


More Seattle animators:
Clyde Petersen

Webster Cromwell
Britta Johnson
Stefan Gruber

Thursday, March 4 at 8 p.m.,  Zeitgeist Coffee 

Seattle animators are bucking the computer animation trend, using lo-fi techniques to create lovely little films. See for yourself at the (free!) Local Animation Showcase, featuring work by the artists profiled in the March issue of Seattle magazine (Stefan Gruber, Tess Martin, Britta Johnson, Webster Crowell and Clyde Petersen) as well as a few fellow animators
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WHY ANIMATION? “Animation was born to do things that you can’t do with a camera. It began with film trickery, as a way to get a spaceship to land on the moon, for example. In animation, I can do anything I want. I can make anything come alive.” INFLUENCES: “My favorite animated film is Tale of Tales by Yuri Norstein, a Russian animator. It’s a poetic and enthralling meditation on childhood and nostalgia. Another animator who has influenced my work is Caroline Leaf. She uses sand as well as paint and manipulates them under the camera. My favorites of hers are The Owl Who Married a Goose, The Street and Interview.” SEE FOR YOURSELF: See A Moment’s Reverie through October on 4Culture’s window monitor (outside the storefront e-Gallery, 101 Prefontaine Place S, in Pioneer Square) or at filmandscissors.com, which houses Martin’s body of work.

Twenty-five-year-old filmmaker Tess Martin is full of energy and drive, which you might not expect from viewing her meditative animated short A Moment’s Reverie. The 10-minute film, put together from more than 7,200 cut paper images over the course of a year, portrays an ephemeral journey through a land of thoughts and dreams; it is as quiet and understated as Martin is lively and enthusiastic.

Martin, who moved to Seattle in 2008 from Ghana, grew up in Europe. She earned a B.A. in fine art sculpture from the University of Brighton, England, in 2007. It was while she was studying sculpture that she happened upon a puppet show at the Edinburgh International Festival that changed the course of her career. “I was blown away by how the puppeteers had made these characters come alive,” Martin says. “I realized how well you could relate to something that was only imitating being a human. I spent the rest of my schooling doing animated shorts.” Martin’s goal is to give the same power to her humble paper figures—a strength beyond their initial flimsy appearance.

In spite of her relative newcomer status, Martin has completed five animated films and has also taught animation workshops for short summer camps offered by Bainbridge Island Television (a local nonprofit channel) and for Reel Grrls, a media literacy organization for young girls. She cut her tee