This Animation Addresses What It Means to Be Authentic

“Each scene was treated as its own universe.”
- Alberto Sáenz

We often strive for total authenticity via originality when we create something new. But authenticity is not about creating from scratch; it involves recognising inspiration when we find it, and building our own creations in a context of those which already exist. This is the message behind Nothing is Original, a short animated film directed by Mexico City-based creative Alberto Sáenz for his studio Poligonic Studio.

Inspired by the words of Jim Jarmusch, the film adopts numerous animation styles to emphasise the fact that the familiar has a role in creating the new.

We spent some time getting to know Alberto’s thoughts.

THE PLUS: “Nothing is Original,” do you agree and why?
Alberto Sáenz:
We look for new ways to say things that haven’t been said before. But we have to use what has been done before to construct new languages. In that way, we are only reusing and remixing. Originality for originality’s sake doesn’t exist.

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TP: This video combines many different art and animation styles. What was your process like in selecting which ones to feature?
AS:
The main goal of the project was to get outside of my comfort zone. Pushing myself to do things that I’ve never done before and finish with something that was new to me. Each scene was treated as its own universe. I just started working on each scene independently and thought of techniques that I’ve always wanted to do: 2D, 3D, collage, pen, embroidery, crayons, and photograph. With the embroidered scene, I asked my girlfriend for help who is always experimenting with that technique.

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TP: If “Nothing is Original”, what visual references did you take and from where when making this short film?
AS:
The last couple of years I’ve seen many ensemble pieces that I love. Different authors, many techniques. One that I repeatedly came back to watch was The Wisdom of Pessimism by The School of Life.

TP: Would you say the clips featured in this video, “speak directly to your soul?”
AS:
I want to say that at the beginning they did. But after working on it and watching it over and over again, it’s sometimes hard to detach from the work. It’s an echo. I think I have to do other stuff and re-watch it with fresh eyes in a year or so to see the impact it has.

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TP: This video is all about finding and using inspiration. Where do you personally find inspirations?
AS:
I get bored very easily. As a necessity in those times of boredom, almost anything can work as inspiration. It’s like finding an excuse to work on something. Normally, is in the morning routine I have where I drive a bike to a coffee shop where I start thinking of most of my ideas that come to fruition.

TP: This is the first animated short film from your studio – how do you feel about making short films?
AS:
I love it. It’s a way of doing original work that doesn’t have to find a commercial purpose. People react to it differently. It lets you explore and find a new meaning to what you do.

TP: How did you first get into animation and illustration?
AS:
I studied architecture but I was always fascinated by what After Effects could do. At first I only wanted to do video experiments with some friends. But later I found out that we could live from this videos. That started Poligonic and what we do right now.

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TP: What other art format do you enjoy apart from illustration?
AS:
Movies. I love watching and studying cinema. Last year I did my first live action short film and am very excited to keep exploring in that world.

TP: Tell us a bit more about Poligonic. Does your background have any influence on your work?
AS:
Poligonic is a small animation studio located in Mexico City. We work with clients that want to make unforgettable videos. If you want to say my background is in architecture, I think it helped me make the transition to animation because of the core design elements they share. I had to study new software and learn new principles, but at the end I saw it as attacking a design problem that had specific solutions. I saw how people I admire did it, started imitating them and then getting the confidence to start exploring on my own.

TP: Where do you hope to take your work to in the future?
AS:
I would love to keep making films. Doesn’t matter if it’s animated or live-action or both. But the enjoyment of writing something, doing it and then screening it, is something that is in the top of my list.

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