Elevate Talks: Dante Zaballa
Dante is a frame-to-frame animator from Argentina living in Berlin. Dante’s drawings and animations are unique because of their joyful near-primary colors and unpretentious movements. He has recently worked on a series of animations promoting Nike’s new shoe globally. They consisted on drawings of seven athletes who were asked to describe their feelings while using “React” for the first time.
Could you introduce yourself?
Hi! I am Dante. Interviews make me a bit nervous.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember that I wanted to be an inventor, but I could not think of any good ideas for an invention. Then, I thought I was going to be a musician, until I got interested on animation. I still make music in my spare time and try to merge both disciplines.
How did you decide to become an animator?
I started studying Graphic Design for no apparent reason. Oh well, maybe it was because I thought I was going to draw a lot there. At that time, I got real lucky and got to start working in a motion graphics studio, where I became familiar with some animation tools and met several animators. Two of them were traditional animators and encouraged me to start doing animations. I started experimenting more with animation and was absolutely hooked.
All of a sudden, I decided to drop out university and quit my job and started working on some nonsense animations, which led to a short called “The Head” (2010). I worked together with Matias Vigliano.
It was a decisive moment. Leaving my work and my professional career to bet exclusively on animation changed everything.
Do you prefer working alone or with a team?
Usually I like to have the help of a friend. It’s much more fun doing this than facing projects all by myself. And the process speeds up.
Under this working logic the Doodle Project was born. It’s kind of collective animation projects between friends and people that I get to know at festivals or wherever I go to.
I believe that regarding personal projects, it becomes more enjoyable when I have the possibility to work with someone who is good in some aspect where I flinch.
Sometimes I work alone and it’s good too. But lately, it bores me.
Which effects do you think new technologies have on animation? How do you feel experimenting with them?
I have absolutely no idea. I enjoy VR, AR and so on and I find these technologies intriguing but they are a mystery for me. I am kind of a caveman. Paper and crayon. I’ve recently started experimenting with Flash. I like it because I can work faster, that’s a relief. But that’s how far I can make it tech wise speaking. :)
How do you choose your clients? Is there any type of client you’d decline?
The truth is that I don’t like commercial projects.I join a project if I can work with freedom regarding style and art. That’s something that never, ever, ever, happens. Ever.
What is your dream client?
On a scale from 1 to 10, how important is social media for your work?
Social networks are a beautiful way to procrastinate. Sometimes I get to see things and I feel like I lost a significant part of my time in black hole. That’s when they bother me.
But it’s not their fault, it’s mine. I’ve recently took the challenge of making animations to publish on my Instagram stories as an exercise. As they are such a short and ephemeral format (they only exist for 24 hours), it forced me to move my hand very quickly and without thinking much. It was a good exercise. That’s when social media becomes good and productive.
But then again, Internet is not to blame. If we suffer because of them or make the most of them is our responsibility.
They make me nervous. And they keep me from getting my hands dirty with real paint, which is what makes me really happy.
Who or what inspires you?
I like Karel Appel. I like going to museums and seeing works in scale.
Also listening to music and watching music videos. And if I dare to dance, better (even if I move badly).
Which has been your biggest challenge?
Going on tour with a band and without stopping drawing. It was a great challenge, but I got hold of a small Wacom (the size of a booklet) and I was able to work on my animations on the trip.
That’s when the need of using Flash arose and that’s when I started working on that Instagram stories I told you about. I made them inside a car on tour. This tour also made me produce a short film about Japan that I’m about to release.
How do you see yourself in 12 months?
Making more music. Oh, did I choose the wrong professional path?
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
Repeating myself the same question over and over again.
Bonus track: Could you recommend any TV series/ movie/ song/ artist/ etc?
“El sabor del té” is a film that moves me whenever I see it. Also, listen to Tall Juan, he is my cousin and he is killin it.