A Look Inside Box of Motion
Artist Anastasia Shakutneva talks about her playful, dynamic, and often explosive animations.
The animations of Anastasia Shakutneva, also known as Box of Motion, have made her a popular artist on on Adobe Stock. Looking through her collection, it’s not difficult to see why — the cartoonish splashes of color, bold shapes, and the motion work in Anastasia’s creations feel at once familiar and brimming with new possibility. Browsing her collection is like looking at the elements for an unwritten animated series — a kinetic one at that. Fireballs, explosions, flashes of lightning, and splashing water are recurring themes in her work.
If Anastasia’s work has the unmistakable feel of a narrative cartoon, that’s not an accident. Among her many artistic influences are the films of Hayao Miyazaki. It was “the explosions in Howl’s ‘Moving Castle’ and the movements of water in Ponyo” that drew Anastasia’s attention to motion graphics, although she cautions, “I am far from the masters of animation. In fact, I try not to copy their work directly. I watch their films to get inspired to create my own work.”
In the world of motion graphics, universality is as much an economic virtue as it is an artistic one. Animations that can fit as easily in a 30-second news clip as they could in an Instagram advertisement have twice as many potential clients.
Anastasia knows this, and in turn she draws inspiration from a wide array of mediums and formats, from literature and photography to social media videos and contemporary events. She resists any rigid definition of her style, preferring flexibility and fluidity. “It’s very difficult,” she says. “I get inspiration from everywhere… I always try to create something universal, so that my work fits any mood and causes different reactions in different people.”
There’s a danger, though, in trying to create universal work — one might end up with something that lacks perspective altogether, or, in other words, something boring. If idiosyncratic work appeals to just a few people, dull and stilted work appeals to no one. Anastasia avoids this pitfall by narrowing in on the concept of “energy” as the unifying element in her animations, which they all share.
Energy, in Anastasia’s view, is what gives shape to animations and gives them body and character. “For example,” she says, “the energy in this animation is sharp and fast, but for this one it is smooth and calm.” If she wants a more elegant atmosphere, she’ll opt for smooth lines with soft curls and round forms. For something more explosive, she’ll use closed angles and fast-paced timing. “The main thing,” she says, “is that you want a series of graphics to look harmonious.”
Never stop learning
Like a lot of designers, Anastasia comes from a classical art background. She attended a technical university and graduated from its school of art and technology. While there, she took all the fundamental classes that are taught worldwide: life drawing, composition techniques, color theory, the use of perspective, and so on.
These techniques have certainly come in handy, especially during Anastasia’s sketching process, but she stresses the importance of being self-taught as well. “Most of the knowledge that I use in my work I had to discover independently,” she says. “At that time, there were few places where you could study animation and motion design in Russia, and I actually didn’t know what exactly I wanted to study and practice.”
But rather than being a disadvantage, learning techniques on her own is one of Anastasia’s greatest strengths. “I try to constantly discover something new,” she says, “especially tools which simplify the creation of something that used to take a lot of steps.” By simplifying her work in one area, she can put her attention toward refining new skills. “I worked a lot with titles,” she says of her most recent work, “and now I am working with brushes.”
Keep an eye on the future
Anastasia is an admitted perfectionist. “I want to bring everything to the ideal,” she says. “This takes up most of my time.” Her need to feel like she’s getting as close to perfection as possible stems from an earlier period of uncertainty. “I changed several jobs before I realized that if I want to do something, I need to devote 100% of my attention to this,” she says. “At that moment, I quit any other works and focused only on studying and creating graphics.”
Her single-minded commitment paid off. After eight years of complete devotion to motion graphics, Anastasia is now so busy with her work she barely has time left for freelance projects or pursuing other interests. “I hope that soon I can explore other sides of art — maybe music.”
But in the meantime, Anastasia tries to keep her attention on the future. “Now the trends are changing so quickly,” she says. “Social media is making trends, so I’m always looking for ideas and inspiration there.” One trend she notices that’s especially popular are lower-third templates, graphics and titles that fill out the bottom of a frame, leaving the top two-thirds free for video content. Since we’re all looking at so much content on our phones, she pays closer attention to considering the vertical placement of her work.
Anastasia’s commitment to perfecting her ideas and always striving for harmony has resulted in a body of work that expresses a whole range of moods. Her animations can feel just as at home in a music video as they would as infographics. Reflecting on her experiences, Anastasia finds the most honest advice to younger animators is the age-old saying: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Browse more of her work in the Box of Motion collection here in Adobe Stock. And if these energetic pops of color, light, and motion are inspiring, you can download these free Adobe Stock Motion Graphics templates to play around with yourself!