Aug 042013

Thank you to everyone who came to yesterday’s screening of Strange Creatures: Contemporary Independent Animation from Seattle. There were a lot of people, laughter and warm fuzzy feelings. Thank you for supporting your local indie animation community! If you have an idea of where the program could screen next, get in touch! Email tess [@]

Britta Johnson and Tess Martin answering questions. Photo by Michael Wallenfels

Britta Johnson and Tess Martin answering questions. Photo by Michael Wallenfels

Aug 032013

Seattle Weekly preview article

Kelton Sears from the Seattle Weekly wrote up a nice piece about the Strange Creatures screening today (4PM, NWFF), where he talks a little about the history of SEAT as a group and Seattle’s animation scene compared to other cities’:

“SEAT is one of the main reasons those animators have found such a cohesive community in Seattle. In 2002, animator Stefan Gruber, who teaches animation at The Nova Project, assembled animators in the city to create SEAT, which started out as a sort of workshop that would meet in cafes. For animators who spend most their time locked away making characters bop around frame by frame, SEAT was a chance to meet up and talk shop.”

Thanks Kelton!
And we hope to see you this afternoon at 4PM at the NW Film Forum!


Aug 022013

8_1_2013_CityArts1_croppedTony Kay from CityArts interviewed curator Tess Martin a few weeks ago about the Strange Creatures screening tomorrow, and he wrote up a nice preview piece about it, with a bit about Tess as well:

“Martin’s animation style—characterized by thoughtful, organic beauty and a usage of everything from paper cutouts to marker sketches on glass to fine lines of sand—owes more to the adventuresome spirit of conceptual art than the massive assembly lines of Pixar and Disney.”

Thanks Tony!

Have you bought your tickets yet for the Strange Creatures screening? Click here to do so, and here is the Facebook event as well.

Jul 292013

Tess Martin was invited to write a guest blog post for Blog 4Culture, about the Strange Creatures program she curated that is screening on August 3rd. Most of the artists in the program have been fortunate to receive 4Culture support over the years, for which they are all grateful! Read it here to learn more about why these 10 shorts are so special.

Also the excellent Beacon Hill Blog wrote up a nice preview of the program, pointing out that yes, the best-known artist in the show is undoubtedly Bruce Bickford, who is well known for the claymations he made with Frank Zappa, and who has a documentary made about him. We are so happy to be showing a beautiful five minute excerpt from one of his ongoing pencil animations, with a custom made soundtrack.

Have you bought your tickets yet?


Blog 4Culture post


Beacon Hill Blog post


Jul 282013

Here are two more protraits you’ll find in the custom zine program when you attend the Strange Creatures screening on August 3rd, made by the talented Kelly Froh. These are of animator Stefan Gruber and Bruce Bickford.

Bruce Bickford by Kelly Froh

Stefan Gurber by Kelly Froh

Stefan Gurber by Kelly Froh












Also, here are some stills from the films, showing all the strange creatures you’ll see!



Into The Desert

 SEAT, Upcoming  Comments Off
Jul 252013

On August 15th SEAT member Joe Garber will be celebrating the release of his graphic novel Canyonlands with a desert-themed group art show!

Please come and check out how the desert inspires local artists of all walks.

Check out the comic here:


Jul 112013

So happy that Tyler Mangrum from the Capitol Hill Times decided to cover the animation scene here in Seattle. In this article for which I was interviewed earlier in the week, he covers SEAT, the status of indie animation compared to other kinds, as well as the Strange Creatures screening on August 3rd:

“These films will break your heart and make you laugh at the same time,” Martin said. “This is why I love doing these collections; the films are just awesome. Once I get people in the theater, there’s nothing else I have to do. The films will win them over. It’s just a matter of letting people know that it’s happening, that this scene exists here, that they should be proud of it, and that it’s inspiring as a medium.”


Jul 102013

The August 3rd screening of the new SEAT program Strange Creatures is getting closer, and comic artists Kelly Froh and Marc Palm are sending in their designs for the custom zine program. First up is Marc’s awesome title page:

Strange Creatures zine cover by Marc Palm

Strange Creatures zine cover by Marc Palm

Next are three of the seven animator portraits. Here we have Tess Martin, Clyde Petersen and Drew Christie:

Portrait of Tess Martin by Kelly Froh

Portrait of Tess Martin by Kelly Froh

Portrait of Clyde Peterson by Kelly Froh

Portrait of Clyde Peterson by Kelly Froh

Portrait of Drew Christie by Kelly Froh

Portrait of Drew Christie by Kelly Froh

Check the SEAT Facebook page for regular updates about the zine program and other aspects of the evening!

Jul 032013


I’m happy to announce that on Saturday, August 3rd, you’ll have a chance to see the second program of animated shorts I’ve curated. These are also all by members of the Seattle Experimental Animation Team, and this time around they all have animal/nature themes.  Ten films by seven artists (including Bruce Bickford!) plus a custom zine program by Kelly Froh and Marc Palm. It’s going to be an awesome show and you don’t want to miss it. Buy your tickets on the NW Film Forum website.

Strange Creatures
Contemporary independent animation from Seattle

The Pacific Northwest has more than its share of curious creatures. This series of animated films, curated by Tess Martin, showcases the relationship between humans and the natural world in the wet and wild city of Seattle. Whales, owls, bumblebees, frogs, cats, dogs and the hairy forest-dwelling giant known as Bigfoot inhabit these flights of fancy created by award-winning members of the Seattle Experimental Animation Team, themselves a rare breed: truly independent creators who push the boundaries of animation.

1. Rocketmen trailer, Webster Crowell, 0:53 (2013)
The Rocketmen are the last surviving remnant of a WPA jobs program; their hardware, uniforms and budget haven’t changed since the great depression; generations of men employed atop rooftops and radio towers, waiting to save us from the threats of tomorrow. An adventure serial about what to do until the robots arrive, seven thrilling episodes written and directed by Animator Webster Crowell. Coming in 2013!

2. The Whale Story, Tess Martin, 3:46 (2012)
A fisherman experiences a moment of connection with a female humpback whale in the waters off of San Francisco. Is this an example of inter-species communication or a mysterious fluke? This true story is retold in paint on a 16 foot high wall with the help of the passing public in Seattle’s Cal Anderson Park.

3. Song of the Spindle, Drew Christie, 4:03 (2011)
A man and whale argue about who is smarter and finally come to something of an understanding.
Animated in Flash and drawn by hand with tablet.

4. Crashing Waves, Britta Johnson, 6:53 (2010)
In this film, featuring a combination of stop-motion animation and time lapse photography, two shipwreck victims spend their days on a deserted shore, making the sun rise, the tides move in and out, etc. Are they gods, or have they been driven mad by their predicament?

5. Hi! I’m a Nutria, Drew Christie, 3:45 (2012)
In this animated Op-Doc for the New York Times, an invasive rodent asks how long it takes to become a native. Animated and colored in Photoshop with scanned ink drawings.

6. Harsh Tokes and Bong Jokes, Clyde Petersen, 3:46 (2013)
Hand drawn for his band Your Heart Breaks, Harsh Tokes and Bong Jokes is a drug-fueled teenage ride through the grunge rock streets of Seattle, Washington in the 1990′s.  Climb into a car with a bunch of queer teenagers as they take bong hits, rock out to mix tapes and play guitar on the beach.

7. Excerpt from Dream of a Beatnick Poet, Bruce Bickford, 5:24 (2000-present)
Bruce Bickford, known for his claymation videos for Frank Zappa from the 1970s, continues to animate every day. Working primarily now in fine-pencilled drawn animation, this is a five minute excerpt from one of his work-in-progress films, Dream of a Beatnick Poet.

8. Edible Rocks, Stefan Gruber, 2:49 (2013)
This animation recounts the time when the animator convinced his little brother that there were some rocks you could eat. Made with charcoal, colored pencils and gel pens.

9. They Look Right Through You, Tess Martin, 9:02 (2013)
Whether cat people or dog people, we all think we have relationships with our pets. But do our pets feel the same way? Can we ever really know how our animals see us, or are our relationships with them ultimately a leap of faith? This marker-on-glass animated short uses interviews to explore the depth and limitations of human-pet relationships, and how we communicate, feel for and understand each other.

10. King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O, Britta Johnson, 3:02 (2012)
The strange courtship of a frog and a mouse – an animated music video made with watercolors for Laura Veirs’ song King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki- Me- O, featuring Bela Fleck on the banjo.

Total running time: 44 minutes

Here is some additional info from the press release:

Seattle’s vibrant alternative animation scene is on display in Strange Creatures, a screening of local independent animated shorts that explore our relationship with the natural world. Don’t miss this great opportunity to see films on the big screen that have previously shown at Sundance and SIFF, by award-winning filmmakers of the Seattle Experimental Animation Team: Drew Christie, Bruce Bickford, Stefan Gruber, Webster Crowell, Britta Johnson, Clyde Petersen and Tess Martin.

Curator Tess Martin will herself be bringing the program to European venues over the next year, echoing her 2011 tour where Seattle films screened in 15 venues in 9 countries.


This screening takes place on Saturday, August 3rd, 2013 at 4:00PM at the NW Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122. Price is $10/general public, $6/Film Forum members, $7/Seniors, Children under 12 and Students with valid photo ID.

Each guest will receive a zine program designed by Seattle cartoonist Marc Palm, featuring portraits of the filmmakers by comic artist Kelly Froh. This zine will be distributed at every future screening of the program, and will serve to showcase the local comics community as well as the animation scene.


Seattle Weekly 8/2/2013: “Strange Creatures” Populate this Weekend’s Indie Seattle Animation Show, Kelton Sears

Central District News 8/2/2013: Work of Central District resident Britta Johnson featured in local screening, Megan Hill

CityArts Online 8/1/2013: Animator Tess Martin Unleashes ‘Strange Creatures’ at the Northwest Film Forum, Tony Kay

New Day NW 7/31/2013: Discover Strange Creatures with animator Webster Crowell

Blog 4Culture 7/29/2013: One night only screening of Seattle animation, guest contributor Tess Martin

Beacon Hill Blog 7/29/2013: Beacon Hill animator presents evening of short films, Andrew Hamlin

Capitol Hill Times 7/11/2013: Animation to win you over at Northwest Film Forum, Tyler Mangrum