Interview by Mia Dillemuth | Animation and art works by Jenny Jokela Copy Editor Matthew Jones

Jenny Jokela is an awarded Finnish-Swedish animator who has worked for the likes of AnOther Magazine, Wonderland and Minna Parikka. Paper is her main medium and somehow she keeps returning to the quite grotesque themes of female bodies being mutilated and transformed. For Around she collaborated with legendary fashion illustrator Rauni Palonen resulting in a hypnotic digital animation.


Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I’m a Finnish-Swedish animator, based in London since 2009. I initially got into animation through my BA fashion studies, which might explain why most of my clients are in that area.

What is your education?

I studied BA Fashion Promotion & Imaging at University for the Creative Arts, graduating in 2012. I’m currently doing MA Animation at Royal College of Art, from where I will graduate in the summer of 2017.

When did you first know that you wanted to become an animator?

In the final year of my fashion studies we got to write our own briefs for our graduation projects. At the time Tate Modern were having a Gerhard Richter exhibition, which inspired me extremely. I remember being at the museum thinking how amazing it would be to see paintings in motion. When I got home I made my first awkward attempt at animation.  Despite my clumsiness and despite having absolutely no clue about how it’s meant to be done, I loved the process.  I ended up spending my whole final year teaching myself how to animate, and have never really stopped (Thank you Gerhard).

For which clients have you worked and with whom would you like to work?

AnOther Magazine, Wonderland, Volt, Cascine Records, Hook LDN, Elle Finland, Gloria, Minna Parikka, Mert Otsamo, R/H, Sasu Kauppi, Helsinki Design Week… I’ve also won a fashion film competition organized by SHOWstudio and a print-design competition by Puma. Fashion clients are fun and challenging because they tend to appreciate a more experimental kind of animation, and the people who I collaborated with in this area have been very passionate about what they do which is inspiring for me. After graduating I aim to do more animations within the music industry. So far I’ve always done my animations by myself, but in the future I would love to collaborate with other animators.

Jenny Jokela for SHOWstudio

Who or what inspires you?

Most of my inspiration comes from fine art. I recently read this amazing book about the history of female self-portraiture, so right now I’m very inspired by the ways women artists throughout history have redefined, reclaimed and challenged the dominant society’s notions and morals of what women should be and look like. My fellow students here at RCA also inspire me – I feel very lucky to get to work and spend time with my lovely class every day.

How would you describe your style?

Hand-made and 2D, often mixed media. I have a bit of an obsession with texture and will combine anything from photography and paint to clay and hair.

You mainly work with female figures. Is that something that you planned or does it just come naturally?

Both. Initially it was almost a form of self-therapy for me as I wasn’t that aware of why I kept returning to the quite grotesque themes of female bodies being mutilated and transformed. But the more analysing, reading and research I have done on my subject the easier it has become for me to articulate my concept in literal as well as visual form. The animation I’m currently working on, my graduation film, is a much more deliberate meditation and reflection on the representation/depiction of female sexuality and femininity than my previous work.

What have been the themes of your latest works?

Identity and female sexuality

How do you work? Can you tell us a little bit of the process? How was it for example working with the paperdoll animation for Around?

I usually use paper as my main medium – I will film a scene, then print out every frame of the second. I will then by hand paint over the pictures and often also collage them, and then either re-shoot them on a multiplane or scan them back in. It’s painfully slow but fun. I’m currently taking a break from this nonsense as I’m getting into traditional, hand painted animation. My doll-animation for Around was interesting to me in that it was quite different from my usual work – it’s completely digital and the illustrations are by someone else. I think it’s important to be able to translate your style/voice into different mediums so I found the process quite rewarding.

Do you think of your work as art?

Perhaps my personal work but not the ones that are for clients as those animations have commercial purposes.

Painting by Jenny Jokela Photo by Brooke Gardiner

What do you find beautiful? And what is ugly to you?

Tolerance and kindness good, jealousy and selfishness bad.

Where do you see your self in the next five years?

Because of Brexit I’m not sure in which country I will be, but fingers crossed super busy animating some interesting project and collaborating with people who are equally passionate about what they do.