The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Miranda Javid: Miranda, 27, Animator, Freelance
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
MJ: I’m obsessed with American war history. Ok, obsession is a pretty dark way to phrase an interest in violence. Still, that’s in part what it is and you can see me grappling with that human legacy in almost all of my films, too. When I was in college I saw one of those films of early 20th century shell shock and it made me literally gag. (A similarly visceral feeling overtook me when I saw Apocalypse Now in high school.) I couldn’t believe how many human lives were wasted, driven to insanity because of political aggression. My pattern is to spend a few years on a specific era and then move on when I’m ready. I have an amateur’s expertise in Comancheria, The Civil War, The Korean War and WW I and II. To study this stuff, I’ll occasionally propose a research project at a specific archive I’m interested in.
Looking at the past helps me to cope with the way our world is now. For example, after the recent election I enrolled in an online course on the War for American Independence. I was thinking it was time for me to ask what the Constitution’s goals even were when it was written. That course has reminded me that even at its onset, America was populated with many voices and varied definitions of freedom.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
MJ: I feel most creative at 10 am, two hours after I wake up, and usually an hour after getting into the studio-groove. I’m also most productive at this time of day, unless we’re talking about the kind of administrative productivity that goes into being a freelancer and artist. I try to reserve part of my afternoon for answering emails and all the other boring minutiae. If do that stuff in the morning, or intersperse it with the drawing-part-of-the-day, it’s a real buzzkill creatively.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
MJ: Once I finish my next film in 2018, I’m going to start seeking out ways to fund a longer animation, whether as a mini-series or a feature. I have an idea that I’m just starting to block out, but getting longer has been a life goal of mine for as long as I can remember. I prefer long books that take months to read and epic songs like Cowgirl in the Sand. Closer to my own field, animations like Habfürdő or Fantastic Planet are such special films in part because of the eccentricities that naturally bubble up in an independent animation with a limited work-force. I’d like to some day contribute to that legacy by way of smaller-batch, but longer projects that contrast the—still pretty amazing—work of large studios like Pixar.
Oh and speaking of computer animation, I wanna learn Maya.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
MJ: Right now I’m working on an animated musical about a wisp of smoke who is afraid of her own disappearance. It’s rendered in a 1920’s black and white style and will involve a bunch of collaborations with musicans. A thing that inspired the script was Esther Leslie’s book, Hollywood Flatlands, in which she talks about aesthetic overlaps between the turbulent first decades of the 20th century, and animation’s beginnings during the same years.
The work process right now involves animating during all of my free time, physical therapy for my repetitive use injury, and rarely having a social life. I love it.
TCU: What scares you?
MJ: I’m scared I’ll never be satisfied with one of my projects. I’m scared for the future of our planet. I’m scared of a cockroach crawling in my mouth.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
MJ: Ummm this is a toughie. I think part of the whole deal with being a creative person is that you don’t necessarily have a stopping point where you feel like you’ve achieved success. It’s a continuous process. Even if I made something I felt very very proud of, I’d still wake up the next morning and be like, “Ok, now off to my studio for another day of work.” Artists don’t really retire. Because I see a career in art as never-ending, I try whenever possible to not think about what success is, and more to be happy in the moment of acting. I tend to be most at peace when I’m alone in the studio, and that’s how I have grown to gauge a successful life—as one where I get to do that as much as possible.
But maybe that’s a bullshit kind of answer, so I’ll try to be more concrete. I think if I ever had enough money to become a home-owner in a city I felt happy to live in, then I would feel really proud of myself.
TCU: Anything else you want to add?
MJ: Here’s a poem from over 1000 years ago:
“I go out of the darkness
Onto a road of darkness
Lit only by the far off
Moon on the edge of the mountains”
-Izumi Shikibu, 974 - 1034
If you'd like to learn more about Miranda or see more of her incredible work, head over to www.mirandajavid.com.