Interview: Lilli Carre Pt. 2 [of 3]

Categories:  Features, Interviews

In addition to the comics work that has recently garnered her acclaim through titles like The Lagoon and Woodsman Pete, Chicago-based cartoonist Lilli Carre has also produced a handful of animated shorts, many of which can be streamed on her site (as well as the above video for the Tim Fite song, “Big Mistake,” which she co-directed with her sister, Claire). The films, most of which were produced while Carre was a student at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute, maintain a very similar feel to her sequential work—quiet, hypnotic, timeless.

In this second part of our interview, we discuss her work in animation, her time at the Art Institute, and what exactly one does with a degree in sound art.

[Part One] [Part Three]

Are you still doing animation, or was that something you were more involved in during school?

I really want to. I’m working on a collaborative film, right now. I really want to, but I think it’s just that comics stuff has piled up more. I have a lot of projects going on right now, and it takes so long that I just haven’t been able to indulge in animation since I got out of school, which is really sad. I will, as soon as I clear my pallet of things I’m working on. But it also takes setup, which I don’t have at the moment, like a camera and a camera stand and a lot of punch paper, which I can easily get—I just have to find the time.

You went to art school in Chicago.


Do you find that it’s harder to take on these larger projects now that you’re out of school?

I think it’s much easier, at least in terms of comics. For animation it was nice because they had a little room with all the equipment you need and privacy—it’s perfect. You can get anything you need. And with animation, it’s nice having a little camaraderie, too—you can show up at any time of night in the animation room and there would be like 15 people scribbling over light tables, talking about whatever. It was a nice thing. It was very timeless in that room. There were no windows. You could just work all night and not feel crazy, I guess [laughs]. That I miss, not being in school. With comics, it’s just much easier, having more time.

There are plenty of comics people in Chicago. Is there a sense of camaraderie out there?

I think so, yeah. There are a lot of really amazing people out here, some of which come out of the wood work and some of which don’t—at least in my life. We started a little drawing club here that meets on Sundays, and we draw little jam comics and stuff. That’s really nice, that one day a week of seeing other people and talking about comics with other people that I hadn’t had regularly in my life.

It’s such an isolated thing to do—you almost have to force socialization, in a way.

Yeah. It’s really a relief to able to talk about that stuff with other people who spend so much time alone as well, working on their stuff.

What are you working on, comics-wise, at the moment?

There’s a handful of things. I’ve been working a while on this little book of short stories. They’re just one panel per page.

It’s like a picture book?

Yeah, kind of, I guess. It’s like a square formatted book, with one square per page. That’s for Little Otsu, who are really great. Hopefully that will be done soon. And I’m working on an adaptation of The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen. And I’m trying to think of more stuff. That’s what I’m doing comics-wise.

It’s interesting that you’re working on the Hans Christian Andersen book. There’s sort of an—for lack of a better term—old timey feel to a lot of your work. The Lagoon was a bit more contemporary, but it still feels sort of timeless, in a sense. Woodsman Pete definitely has an older feel to it. Has that been a theme with your work since the beginning?

I guess it’s not really intentional. I think often I remove my characters from society, but it’s not really out of an interest in old timiness, I guess. It’s some kind of an interest in hermits—people and characters being isolated from either each other or the regular world. I’m not really sure why I have that inclination, but I guess those book really have that.

Your art seems really in keeping with that. Your animations seems like they could have been done in, say, the 30s. Do you study older art books and cartoons and comics?

I guess I’m probably more influenced by animation that I am by old comics. I’ve seen a lot of experimental animation throughout various time periods. That’s what I studied in school. I didn’t really make comics for school. When I was developing my style, it was in animation. But I guess I watched a lot of older stuff, but I can’t think of one that directly reflects the style I have.

So your major was animation.

Yeah—well, you don’t have to declare a major, which was one of the wonderful things about the school. You could really swoop around in different departments. But I guess I’d say that’s most what I was excited about.

Is that what you wanted to go into, when you graduated?

No. I wanted to study sound art. That’s kind of why I came to Chicago, which is kind of funny, in retrospect. But I think that, because I didn’t have to declare a major, I just went around and got really excited about storytelling.

I know this is the classic question for fine arts and humanities, but does one do with a degree in sound arts?

I guess just making experimental sound instillations and showing them around Chicago. I wouldn’t know because I only took a few classes and started veering off. But Chicago’s got a pretty interesting scene, in terms of music and experimental sound.

[Concluded in Part Three]

–Brian Heater

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