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Sabine Volkert

Sabine Volkert

Meet London-based animator, illustrator, and designer, Sabine Volkert.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an animator, illustrator and designer from Germany with roots in Taiwan. Drawing has always played a big part in my life as my ever-evolving companion. It both drives me forward and gets me into trouble at times. Whether I end up creating still or moving images, figurative or abstract work, painterly or clean styles – at the base it’s mainly 2D and drawn.

I was born in Tainan and grew up in Nuremberg until moving to Augsburg for a B.A. in Communication Design. It was during our studies that I got to try out animating for the first time and it has hooked me ever since. After graduating in 2015 and polishing up my portfolio I found myself moving to London beginning of 2016 for an internship and taking a serious leap into the freelancing world straight after. While I’m currently mostly based in London, staying connected to my roots has always been important to me, so I can be found back on home grounds regularly.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

London can be a rollercoaster, especially in the beginning when coming from abroad. It’s a city that has a lot to offer with all sorts of cultural events going on all the time, buzzing with diversity, opportunities and new things/places to explore. Although it can be hard to keep up with at times and quite overwhelming when being swept up too much by its frantic pace. What it certainly offers is a lot of choices and possibilities. But at the end of the day, it can be a place like any other, while going about a normal life. It’s all about finding the right balance.

Drawing has always played a big part in my life as my ever-evolving companion. It both drives me forward and gets me into trouble at times.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

What I love about London is the supportive network of creative people, especially in the animation industry there is a very giving mentality of sharing knowledge, experiences, and connections. So much of the work happens in teams that often are supported by a bunch of freelancers – there is a good culture of recommending each other going around. Even when you are going through rough times, it helps so much to talk to and hear from others. I have met so many incredible and kind human beings here and it’s always lovely when your paths cross again.

What makes the city really rough are the high living expenses, housing is crazy expensive and more than often not in the best state. London is great when you can afford it. When you can’t it’s not the kindest place as it comes with a lot of the usual big-city problems, where there is more demand for than supply of affordable and good value places. What is considered “good value” gets shifted depending on what you compare it to of course, but during house hunting, you really get to see some abhorrent conditions that look nothing like in their advertised pictures.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Independent, changing & busy.

 

Independent, changing & busy.

How did you start your career in art?

I have always wanted to do something creative, although for the longest time I didn’t know what and how exactly. Animation had never been on my radar as a career, never given any thought to how it was made, to be honest. When we had an introductory time-based media class at uni lectured by Sebastian Onufszak it opened up a whole world once I tried making my first short loop I had so much fun creating it. On the professional side what has been most invaluable to me were the practical experiences and insights gained during my internships. I have been very fortunate to learn from and work with amazing people, glancing over their shoulders and call them my mentors and friends!

Half of our 3rd year at university was a practical semester, which we could either choose to spend studying abroad or at an internship. I ended up splitting it into two internships in Munich, first with Uber Eck and later on with Musclebeaver. I learned so much from all of them and it was definitely a turning point for me when I started focusing my studies towards animation as much as was possible within our curriculum. Since 2D frame by frame animation is a bit of a niche with not many paid opportunities going around in Germany, I started looking abroad applying for internships at studios I had been following on Vimeo, which led me to Moth – and suddenly I found myself moving to London, at first only for the duration of the 3 months internship. But through everyone, I met during that time and learning about the animation scene here I started considering freelancing as a viable career option.

 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Generally, I’m in the privileged position of having had enough support from family and friends to make it to where I am today, although it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Looking back there have been fallouts over rough patches whether it’s a career worth pursuing which comes from a well-meaning and caring place, but takes proof and perseverance to overcome. It doesn’t help being your own worst enemy at times, but I’m really grateful for everyone in my life who believed in me!

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I want to experiment more and think about directing my own projects again. There is always so much to learn with animation, so I will keep developing my skills. But at the same time, I want to create bigger illustrative pieces again and finding a good balance between the two.

 

There is always so much to learn with animation, so I will keep developing my skills.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

There is no specific person I absolutely dream of collaborating with. I mainly want to find more time to collaborate with dear friends!

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Uplifting, inspiring, generous and killing it at what they do! Communities like Panimation, She Drew That and of course Girlsclub Asia here really shine a light on the diversity and talent that is out in the world.

 

Uplifting, inspiring, generous and killing it at what they do!

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

During my teenage years, I met my best friends to this day, bonding through drawing, shared interests in manga and anything creative. They have always had my back and inspire me to be a better person. Special shoutout to my bestie Yino Huan who I’m lucky to share so many experiences with down our paths in life and who is also part of the Girlsclub Asia community!

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

We tend to overthink. I do it too much for sure… It makes it harder to take risks or even speak up while trying to accomodate multiple points of view. This is not an entirely gendered issue and depends on personalities for sure, but still more commonly found among women and deeply engrained in culture and society.

 

Remember to stretch, take breaks and sleep a good night’s sleep! It’s easy to overwork yourself and way harder to bounce back the more often you do.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Remember to stretch, take breaks and sleep a good night’s sleep! It’s easy to overwork yourself and way harder to bounce back the more often you do.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Sabine Volkert.

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