The Animated Life

From watching “multiks” on TV to creating them herself, Arevik d’Or reveals her storyboard

February 24, 2021  |  by Creative Armenia

At a young age, Arevik d’Or decided she wanted to dedicate her life to animation. Through the years, she explored the art in many of its forms, creating a popular cartoon series for De Standaard Magazine, writing children’s books, and illustrating for The New York Times and numerous other publications. Now, as she pursues her own animated TV series, the 2021 Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow talks to us about her inspirations, challenges, and future plans. 

CA: Tell us a little about how you began your journey of becoming an illustrator and animator.

 

AD: In the ’90s, Armenia was a post-war country. The possibilities and resources were very limited. Consequently, there were almost no after-school activities for kids. There was one important exception: the public television showed animated films (we called it “multik”) every afternoon and Sunday mornings. Those were some of the rare moments when we –  kids –  felt truly happy. It was a kind of escape from the grey reality. Already at that time, I understood the magic and positive effects of the art form.  

 

By my early twenties, I had already self-taught myself animation and illustration, established myself as an artist, and ran an art school for kids. A few years later I decided to continue my studies in Belgium to refine my animation skills. 

CA: What is a single work of art or a person whose work influenced you the most? Why?

 

AD: Generally, I’m fascinated by the mid-century modern style. I like the graphic design, Illustration, and architecture of that time period. One of the artists, working in the style, who has been continuously inspiring me is Saul Steinberg. 

 

His work is fresh, inventive, poetic, and sharp. The first time I encountered his oeuvre I had a profound aesthetic experience. Only later I discovered that he was a multidisciplinary artist. While he mostly worked for magazines and publications, he also produced gallery art, advertising, photographs, textile designs, stage sets, and murals. He created his own path and universe instead of following the rules. 
 

CA: You have already published a number of children’s books and are currently working on more. What do you like about writing and illustrating children’s books as opposed to any other genre?

 

AD: Creating children’s books was a conscious decision, while diving into animation was an intuitive choice. I consider children’s books a very important medium. It’s the best way to introduce art to kids. Especially in developing countries, where access to some forms of art is limited, books can become the door to this world and stimulate children’s imagination.

 

Books have been the most flexible, compact, and accessible art form throughout times. Before computers, books were the memory storage. And still, it’s a very multidisciplinary medium. In a book, multiple art forms can be intermingled and interacted: text, image, graphic design, product design, and printing technics. 

CA: From children’s books to animation and film, you have already tried yourself in many areas. What new projects are you looking forward to working on?

 

AD: This year I’m planning to work intensively on an animated short film, which I hope will be a successful project that I can submit to festivals. I would like to get that experience to be more prepared for directing a TV series, a project I would like to work on in the future. 

 

CA: Being an illustrator and animator with such a rich portfolio involves dedication and hard work. What do you personally find the most difficult when working on a project?

 

AD: I could definitely say that the hardest part is starting a new project. I procrastinate a lot, but once I get it started I can easily move ahead and focus on it for a long time. 

 

CA: You have worked on numerous projects throughout your career, from children’s books to animations and beyond. Which one of your works are you most proud of? What makes it special?

 

AD: My most special project is the cartoon series called Annatomy, published as a weekly column in De Standaard Magazine in Belgium. Annatomy is a collection of daily life scenes observed from a women’s viewpoint and noted with irony, humor, and self-realization. The main characters are three similar women –  An, Ann & Anna. Annatomy magnifies clichés, breaks taboos, reflects on perceptions, empowers women, and makes them comfortable. In the end, these are just three friends enjoying each other’s company. Now I’m working on different scenarios to develop this cartoon into a TV series.

CA: Tell us about your daily creative routine.

 

AD: My daily routine is very similar to a jazz composition: there is a theme completed with lots of improvisation. As a freelance artist, I have to multitask a lot. In a day I switch between being an administrator, communicator, editor, social media specialist…and in the time left I write, draw, and animate. 

 

CA: What is your long-term vision for your creative career?

 

AD: When I realized that most of my life I will spend working, I decided that at least I want to find pleasure and satisfaction in my job. And my vision is still the same –  I want to have fun, regardless of what I am doing. And since I enjoy working on animation the most, I hope to have more animation projects in the future.