To say about him that he is a multi-talent guy, is like to say nothing at all. He is playing ping-pong (not bad), drumming on djembe drum (ohh yes, we really love it, especially when he doing it due the work day!) and listening to Sepultura in the car, together with his son. Ah, and he is doing the animations, of course!
The history of Mariusz the Animator is twisted like Mariusz himself and, please believe me, no one can tell his story better than him. So, here is the second part of our “Trzask Inside” interview-series, philosophical conversation with an animator-pro, ping-pong-amateur and drummer-persecutor, mr Mariusz Walach!
At the beginning, a question in history: Do you remember how did your adventure with advertising begin?
At the beginning, I forged leave certificates for sports lessons at school for my friends. As I was quite good at it, I came back to the subject after my studies and decided to hire in an advertising agency as a computer graphic designer – I knew Photoshop a little bit! At the beginning I did outdoor, but everything changed when in the second agency for which I worked, one of the clients needed an animated Christmas card. No one at that time was able to animate, and the task, on the way of selection, fell on me. It turned out that a pretty cool card came off, so following the blow I signed up for a few courses to increase my skill accordingly. The rest is a history.
What it was that captivated you in animation?
You know, I really did not like that at the beginning? It seemed terribly long and arduous. In static graphics with a typically advertising profile, everything is much simpler and faster. One-two and the thing is done, we’re going with the next one. In animation you have to do a lot, the work is much more complex. During my studies, I did play video projects a few times, the formation of which is relatively similar, so animating was not something new to me, but the difference between static graphics is significant in principle in every aspect. Maybe this is captivating in animation?
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If you were to compare your skills when you came to Trzask with your current capabilities?
There is nothing to compare, just a big abyss. You know, when I came to Trzask I already completed a few courses and I also had some experience from previous agencies where I also had to animate. However, the level of animation at Trzask far outranked my skills at that time. Previously, I made a few banners a month, in Trzask I had to animate several banners a week which was quite new to me – the bar has risen. So there was no way out, it was necessary for me to meet new challenges. It seems to me that the skill is growing all the time, along with other demanding projects.
There is an inscription on one of the cups in Trzask: “Do what you love then you will never be at work.” Do you think there is something in it?
Nooo, not at all (laughing). It seems to me that an animation that one loves and likes at the same time is a bit different than working on a series of commercials. Of course, I can not say that I hate my job as it’s just the opposite, but what we talk about could be compared to professional cycling – there is no time for quiet pedaling and admiring the beauties of nature in the course of a single ride, both time and result matter, such ride is a pain, sweat, blood and tears (laughing), although obviously if you are a professional, you also get a lot of pleasure from it, because in the end, for some reason you are doing it professionally, don’t you? So even if I love to animate and do it sometimes overtime for my own pleasure, the basic distinguishing feature of this work is that it is completely free, no one evaluates it, no one sends corrections and above all it is completely my invention is not based on a specific brief invented by the customer. At work, any project sooner or later will be assessed by someone, because the most important is customer satisfaction and the end result.
It’s quite obvious that animator’s life is not always a bed of roses. What was your biggest challenge in your work so far?
Each next project is a challenge, they change from one to another. Sometimes there comes a project that requires something that I have never done before or had done a long time ago and it requires me to refresh the subject. You know, our projects are very diverse. If you look at the reels of most advertising agencies, they usually include a specific scope of work, such as video, 2D animations and generally all of these projects are quite similar to each other. However, in Trzask it is different, the spectrum of our offer is really wide, from 2D to 3D, from animated banners to 3D banners – it requires different skills, because at work we simply complement each other. If one of us is doing a project and at some point it turns out that you have to create a team with him because he needs help, you have to implement some things very quickly, there is no time for calculations. You just sit down and do the best you can, if you have no idea about something, or do not know it, you have a while to remember it or just to learn it. This is a great challenge, of course, but thanks to that the skill is constantly increasing.
So from the other side of the coin: your greatest success?
I really like our explainer videos, or 2D animation. For example, a project for Cluify, where I put in motion the genius vectors of my friend Ola. Such projects are memorable as opposed to banners which I simply do the most and sometimes do not even remember having done one. A moment after completing a banner I am often very proud, I say to myself: “What a cool banner came off, good job!” But in the flood of subsequent projects, I forget about them very quickly, and then when I see it, for example on the Internet, I think: “Wow, great banner, great job! No, wait, I’ve made it! ” (Laughing).
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Trzask is a company that operates globally. Is it important for the animator whether he is doing projects for companies from Poland or from abroad?
Yes, the difference is even from the animator’s level. In truth, a foreign client is a even more spontaneous when expressing his opinion about your work. He can say: “Wow, great job, really genius animation!” When a native customer writes: “Cool, I accept” (laughing). Maybe a foreign client gives the same, but it sounds better in a foreign language? I do not know (laughing). There are words that have something: „awesome”, „brilliant”, „genius” – sound cool, don’t they? I have the impression that the foreign client is a little more aware from the technical side, thanks to which he gives his comments more precisely. It speeds up the process of creating a given project, it often happens that there are no corrections, because the brief is so clear that there is no way to do something wrong. In Poland, it is a bit different, though I remember these few years back, things are much better. It is known that banner ad in Poland is not as popular as in the Netherlands, Belgium or in the USA, so the knowledge of native project managers and the style of their work will inevitably differ from PMs from abroad. It also seems to me that the companies structures play a great role here. It is often the case with us, that many decision-makers with often different visions and different positions are involved in the project. First, we work with someone at a lower level, then someone comes up a bit higher, then someone else higher and so on. It is not so bad if they speak with one voice, but usually it is so that with new people to come, the vision starts to change, not always for better. It looks much simpler abroad, no one adds anything by force, and the project involves only people who should be involved in it and have specific knowledge about it.
Does Mariusz-animator have much in common with Mariusz-non-animator?
I do not think there is such a big difference. My wife claims however, that I bring some of my work habits home, for example, to change everything indefinitely so that it is done as accurately as only possible. On the other hand, it seems to me that my work requires from me precisely such accuracy that I do not practice on a daily basis, or at least not so much. And for sure, I’m not playing ping-pong outside work! Sometimes, however, I bring to work a djembe which I like to play after work. So these worlds, of course, run through.