MinnAnimate Profile: John Akre



Tell us a little bit about yourself and your animation.


Between the ages of 10 and 17 or so I made many super 8 animated shorts with clay characters and paper cut-outs, but slowed down in my late teens. Years later, I decided that I was really missing out, that animation was something I really should have kept on doing, so I started teaching myself how to use some of the new-fangled animation software that is out today. I really love putting together the stop motion types of things I did when I was young with some of the technological wonders of the age. Mostly, I like to use animation to tell the little stories that I keep coming up with.


I also want to do animation in the public realm, so I have been experimenting by doing stop motion animation with random bystanders at some of the Open Streets events going on around Minneapolis.

Why do you like animation?


I like animation because it moves. That movement roots it in reality so the drawings, clay parts and collages I make seem almost real, but are exaggerated and simplified, visibly not real. I also like animation because I can create entire worlds and movies all by myself.

Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.


“Unpop: The Story of Lenny Holwar,” is one of a series of histories I have been making. These histories usually feature famous people who you have never heard about. I am also showing some animation I created with people on the street at the Central Open Streets event. I set up a little station to create stop motion animation and ask people to pose or come up with some action that we can animate then and there on the street.

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?


I like to draw and make music and write stories and poetry. It all ends up in my animation work, which is maybe why I like animation so much, because it is the art that puts together all the arts.

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?


Some of my favorites are Otto Mesmer, who made Felix the Cat one of the greatest stars of the 1920’s, Norman McLaren, who made animation out of everything, Quirino Cristiani, who made some of the earliest animated features and wasn’t afraid to put politics into his cartoons, Gene Deitch, who continues to reinvent animation and to find ways to do the work he wants to do and make a living doing it, and Bill Scott, who was the voice, pen, and genius behind Bullwinkle the Moose.

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?


Minnesota is a good place. I want to do animation here and meet other people doing animation here, which is why I organized MinnAnimate. I think there’s a growing animation scene here, and I think it will continue growing into the future. I know this because I have been teaching animation camps in the summer and teaching other animation classes to young people, and see how many teens there are interested in animating things.

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Filed under Festival 2013, Profiles

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