Observational Humour in Thoka Maer's Series of Gifs to Lighten Your Day

Posted at 7 pm on October 23, 2012 by

Posted in: Animation, Comic Art, Pencil Illustration

A keen eye for life’s daily, overlooked events and charming pencil illustrations are simple ingredients, but combined by Thoka Maer to create a wonderful series of one-line comics. Her observational humour is immediately relatable, intentionally made without text to convey common occurrences of modern life, wherever you are in the world. However, we equally like her straight-forward pencil work in both ‘It’s No Biggie’ and her more abstract pieces.

Lisette Berndt, aka Thoka Maer is currently studying Visual Communication at University of the Arts, Berlin. Although not having formally studied animation, she uses short gif animations in the series as the best way to express some of the many ideas she comes up with.

Other ideas come across in her conceptual pencil drawings. She talks to us and explains the use of this animation technique and the things that inspire her in her work.

I work as an freelance illustrator and I’m studying at the university of the arts, Berlin.

I work for customers but I also do a lot of personal projects. Usually, my illustrations are more abstract, I like to draw  places and processes in a surreal way. 

‘Future Pforte’ [below]  (contribution for a zine): A journey from the 2D to 3D. Both sides look almost the same, but when you look closer, you can see that everything on the left side is supposed to be flat and on the right side, everything is more sculptural.

‘Future Pforte’

I like to play with perspective.  I like to show the beauty of simple things, showing the beauty of the detail. I like it when people can tell from experiences, ideas and thoughts when they behold the picture. 

I’m always interested in many different things, space, the deep blue sea, the human mind …  and a lot more …  and everytime I think about something it forms into certain images, and when I have time, I draw them, or animate them, or …

‘It’s No Biggie’

‘It’s No Biggie’ is a personal project. A very spontaneous, unplanned one. First, I called them ‘Episodes of Life’, but I soon changed it to ‘It’s No Biggie’ which, in my opinion, represents it perfectly in every way.

The animations are a kind of valve for daily life issues, the little things, which annoy us, which are funny, misfortunes and so on. It is always good not to take everything too seriously, and to be gleeful, even if it’s yourself stubbing your little toe agaaain.

I don’t have a bigger concept, I just animate what pops into my mind, or what I’ve witnessed. Sometimes, I also have a pretty certain idea behind a ‘biggie’, for example, the one with the changing heads. But, I like that everybody reads it in their own context.

‘It’s No Biggie’

Because there are no written words, the illustration and animation is totally simple, it can be understood and interpreted by everybody, in every country speaking any language. Sometimes, it is more political, but it can be metaphorical or just direct as well. The subtlety generates itself by the simplicity and the endless looping technically, I also try to keep them as simple as possible (I never really learned to animate or to draw a frame by frame animation, I’m more or less self taught). Sometimes, I have to laugh to myself, when it finally moves.

My materials are pencil, crayon and mainly Photoshop. ‘Its No Biggie’ is made by a classic frame by frame animation. What probably influences my work is Kafka, Orhan Pamuk, Antony and the Johnsons, The Knife, Fellini, Roy Andersson …

Altogether, I’m a pretty chaotic person in many ways. Drawing and ‘knolling’ (desktop photo) helps to keep the chaos within the limits.

 ‘It’s No Biggie’

‘It’s No Biggie’

‘It’s No Biggie’

© Lisette Berndt, 2012