Blue Zoo founded over 18 years ago, is a multi-BAFTA winning animation studio, famous for creating unique and playful CG characters and standout animation.
They live and breathe their craft, continuously developing new techniques and styles to push the boundaries of what animation can do to entertain, educate and inspire.
Tom Box, is one of the three founders of Blue Zoo.
How many years have you been in the business?
We started Blue Zoo 18 years ago – it’s flown by pretty quick!
Myself and Adam and Oli founded Blue Zoo whilst studying animation at university in England.
When did you make your first film, video, art, character, animation, etc.
I started making my own animations out of clay in my bedroom when I was about 7, and never stopped since!
Why did you choose your craft, what led you to it?
From as young age I can remember, I’ve always loved creating 3D visuals, and bringing things to life. When I was about 7, inspired by stop-motion animation I built miniature sets in my bedroom created animations with clay sculpted figures, then a few years later when I was about 9 my father bought a home PC and I discovered programming, so the worlds of animation and computers collided and I fell in love with computer animation and studied it at University, then started a studio. Roll on to the present day the studio (Blue Zoo) is one of the most respected animation studios in the UK!
What professional goals do you still have for yourself
We’d love to make an animated feature film and currently have a few in development, so watch this space 🙂
What is your greatest professional achievement?
Industry peer recognition for the studio we’ve built (we’ve got 4 BAFTAs to our name!), having started with zero contacts and zero experience.
Who do you admire from your profession, past or present, and why?
I’m a massive fan of Aardman and the guys who founded it. Their animations (such as Creature Comforts) inspired me to want to become an animator from a young age, they are also such a champion of British animation.
Who is/was your greatest mentor?
I’ve never worked in another studio, so unfortunately never been lucky enough to have a mentor!
If life were “as good as it gets” – what’s there? If your career were “as good as it gets” – what’s there?
Creating an animation studio which not just produces exceptional animation, but to build an environment and foster a collaborative and buzzing culture which animators dream of working in!
What’s missing from your career that you could add to make it complete?
A bit of spare time 😉
What part of your work do you find most demanding?
Trying to squeeze big ideas into not so big schedules!
What is your creative philosophy?
If you have happy artists in a welcoming and collaborative environment you’ll produce stand-out work.
Could you describe how you create your imagery/art? What do you look for?
We love bringing quirky characters to life with bold, playful energy and trying to do this in a variety of styles to push ourselves into not being visually and creatively complacent.
How do you work best – in teams, with assistants, solo, etc.?
We work best as a team leaving ego at the door. The best ideas are combinations of experiences from a range of cultures and backgrounds.
What is the ideal relationship for you with your clients?
We always enjoy highly collaborative relationships with our clients, sharing and shaping ideas to reach a shared vision for an idea that everyone proudly feels part of.
How did you achieve your vision?
We have invested a lot of time and energy into making in-house short films which push our studio forward, experimenting with different ways of creating animation. It can be easy to find yourself stuck in a rut of creativity and making lots of similar looking projects. The shorts have helped us break out of that cycle and develop our studio progressively and earn a cherished reputation.
What inspires you?
We love watching animated work that has a spectrum of emotional connection. Bringing a character to life from a sketch on a piece of paper, to a character that feels alive which you genuinely feel for, or can make you laugh, is a massively satisfying journey to experience.
What are some of your influences?
We love humor in animation, one of our biggest influences is from crazy animated shows like Ren & Stimpy which have a comedic irreverence.
Where do you seek inspiration?
We try and seek influences from anywhere but animation. If you look too closely to similar artists and studios you’ll just end up emulating industry peers, which isn’t creative or respected.