May 25, 2007
We're still picking our jaws up off the floor a month after checking out the website for Style5, a new Toronto-based studio that's all about applying bolder, contemporary illustrative style to animation. We virtually sat down with creative director Sam Chou for a quick e-mail interview. (Thanks to Kino Kid for coming up with the questions.)

Emru Townsend: How did this madness come about and where do you want it to go?

Sam Chou: You're right, it is madness! We started Style5 because we are passionate about animation, both Chuck [Gammage] and I are traditional animators and we love the medium, but we were disapointed by how animation is viewed here in North America. It's a form of art, and a technique to tell a story, there are no limits... infinite possibilities! So why are there so many boundaries? And why are we still doing wacky talking animals?

Style5 is our venture to change people's view on animation.

ET: I don't think we've ever seen a studio in North America with such a high percentage of non-white creators. Proportionally, boutique or no, that's just weird (and good). Is this a plus or minus in Canada? In the US? Internationally?

SC: Hey, you're right! (I actually never noticed that.)

We chose all of our designers because we love their work. They all have great insight on culture and what's going on in the world, and it shows in their art. I think it's very important for an artist to have that. I guess that's what makes us different.

The world is getting smaller and we see it every day. Everything is changing, not just film or television. North America is changing. The world is changing.

Is is important to be culturally diverse? Definitely!

ET: Would you cringe from or embrace the word "urban" to define your sensibilities? How do you define the word "urban?"

SC: Urban. Hmmmm... The only reason why I'd cringe is because of the overuse of the word. "Urban-chic condo," "urban music," "urban cell-phone plan." It seems to be the "it" word now. Otherwise, you're right. We get much of our inspiration from the city. The fashion, the sounds, the music, the dirt and the grime of the city, we see graffiti everyday, it's all around us. It affects and inspires us.

ET: What type of music do you listen to and how does it influence your art?

SC: Music is my biggest influence by far. I have too many favorites... Album Leaf, Ratatat, Air, Metric, The Feathers, RJD2, Kid Koala, Supercar. I've recently been obsessed with 80's mashups.

ET: You list a series in development, The Wrong Block, as a recent project. Can you tell us about that?

SC: The Wrong Block is a series we are working on. It's a serial crime/action adventure. It follows a middle-aged, tough-as-nails detective as he's tracking down an old adversary, who has kidnapped a billionaire heiress.

The way it's written is quite interesting, it's almost like one story being told three different ways, through the eyes of three different characters. Keep checking the site, we are going to be putting a development page up with lots of new artwork.

ET: What kind of project would you like to work on right now? What kind of client do you want to walk in and say, "I want you to do _____ for me."

SC: I've always wanted to do a sneaker commercial, all traditionally animated. You don't see that too often. My dream project, though, is an RJD2 music video, or a Kid Koala.

ET: What animation do you think people are ready for that they aren't getting right now?

SC: I'd like to see an animated feature, aimed for adults that has action, intrigue, mystery, murder! There, I said it! Murder!

ET: What are you watching these days? (Live or animated.)

SC: Wacky talking animals.

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