Whimsical, quirky, colourful: Stephanie Dewhirst makes her characters come to life
Stephanie Dewhirst aka “stephDAwurst” is a 3D designer and Head of 3D at animation studio Art&Graft. The independent team of talented and ambitious creative minds makes colourful and quirky characters come to life and tell us visual stories. Art&Graft is the studio behind powerful motion graphics campaigns for global brands like HP, Playstation and Virgin Media. Before her talk at Forward Festival Berlin, we had a quick chat with Stephanie about her early career, her favourite project and about how she finds inspiration in everyday life.
Tell us about yourself, what does stephDAwurst stand for, creatively?
I’m a 3D designer with a passion for characters. ‘stephDAwurst’ was bestowed on me by one of my best friends at University – to my disdain. But then it grew on me. It became ‘steph the sausage’ – a 3D character I made a while ago that became my 3D alter ego! She’s a sassy sausage with a passion for detail.
Was there an eye-opening moment or encounter that made you realize you want to work as a 3D designer?
I originally wanted to work in VFX – watching Jurassic Park as a child cemented the idea. But then I became obsessed with all things Pixar & stop motion and it just grew from there really.
Do you think idols are important, and if so, who are yours?
I think idols are important in some way, especially at the beginning of your career. They help shape and guide your path, inspire you to keep creating and to explore – I’ve always been a fan of Luke Doyle and his stunning character work. But ultimately you want to be your own cheerleader.
Are you usually surrounded by people involved with design or do you sometimes need a break from the creative world?
I have friends who work in design and friends that don’t. I work in a lovely studio with a lot of lovely people. We’re big collaborators and that’s great! For me it’s important to be proactive in other areas outside design though – it’s where I get most of my inspiration from. I think it stops you from replicating others’ work.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a designer?
As a child I thought it’d be cool to be a Paleobotanist! But recently I sometimes dream of opening my own Yorkshire pudding food truck at some point…
Working as a digital artist you are basically one step ahead of the analogue reality. What inspires you to keep on pushing further?
A mixture of the creative, passionate people you surround yourself with and the hunger to be constantly improving your craft.
What was your favorite Cinema 4D project?
Definitely anything character based done at Art&Graft! But I also LOVED creating the Art&Graft Ethos film. It was great fun to make a huge team effort. It was a mix of 2D, 3D, motion graphics – a real mash up!
What technical challenges did you encounter?
We wanted to have this film made in house for a specific date – Art&Graft’s 10 year anniversary, so it needed to be done fast. We wanted the shapes of the Ethos film to be characterful but also have naturalistic movement but we didn’t have time to hand animate everything.
Which CINEMA 4D tools or methods were essential to master these challenges?
In the end we hand animated some for bespoke moments, used C4D dynamics for a lot of it to speed up production and some are a mixture of both. We even just rendered stills that were then animated in AE.
Were there any unforgettable or unforeseeable moments with regard to this project?
As we were making it quite quickly we decided along the way we wanted to add paint strokes and 2D elements to both the 3D objects and the film itself. I will never forget seeing one of the last WIPS with all those bits added in (a lot in post, but you’d never be able to tell!) It was pure magic – we’d hit a creative jackpot in my eyes.
Where do you find motivation and inspiration for your next project?
I get inspiration from other artists but most of my motivation and inspiration comes from everyday life. A joke between friends or something weird you’ve seen on the tube. Honestly it can happen anywhere. I read an article about seals shoving eels up their noses and made a small animation inspired by it!
What three words describe your work best?
Whimsical, Characterful and Colourful.
Stephanie Dewhirst presented by Maxon is one of our key speakers at Forward Festival Berlin this year. Get your festival or livestream ticket now!