Eat Work Art SPOTLIGHT: Alex Morris
Alex Morris is a freelance storyboard artist and illustrator based at Alma Yard. His work has been used on a number of high-profile projects across a variety of media forms; from film to advertising, gaming and more. Read our interview with Alex today.
First of all, can you tell us a bit about what you do/when and how you first got into storyboarding?
I work as a freelance storyboard artist for a living, producing storyboards for advertising/music videos/videogames/television and film.
Whilst studying illustration at the University of Plymouth, I found out about storyboarding from one of my lecturers. A job where I could combine my love of movies with drawing really excited me and I spent the rest of my time at University gearing all of my studies towards making that a career.
Storyboarding involves drawing a sequence of narrative shots of what the camera sees. It requires an understanding of the camera and its lenses, technical cam movements, blocking, composition and directing. This is all wrapped up into quick drawings against a tight deadline. I got my first gig in early 2019 from sending out my portfolio and I haven't looked back since!
What are some of your favourite projects to date?
That's a tough one! I tend to work on projects for short intense periods before quickly moving onto the next one, so it can be a bit of a blur! The enjoyment of being a storyboard artist is often more about the relationship you create with a director than it is about the subject matter you're working on.
For that reason I'd say one of my favourite projects was working on the short film 'Bulldozer' with director Stella Scott. Stella really wanted to collaborate and let me storyboard sequences based on my impressions of the script, rather than providing shot notes. We'd then have long calls about what shots we liked, what else should we try etc. It was a really rewarding experience.
Another favourite would be any time I work with the directing duo 'That Jam'. I've done a few ads with these guys and they just always have fun, fresh ideas that are well thought out.
Also teaching! I teach a little bit of storyboarding on the illustration course at the University of Plymouth and it is just extremely rewarding working with students to realise storyboard sequences.
Where do you find inspiration?
I get a lot of inspiration naturally from watching films and series, but also from reading scripts/graphic novels and fiction. I find that a good book or script can really set off a whole sequence of shots in my head. It's then a case of getting pen to paper as quickly as possible.
How have you found your time at Alma Yard so far?
I've really enjoyed it as it's been a big change to my working life.
I got very used to working from home over the last few years and felt in a bit of a rut. My place to relax was also my place of work and it just didn't feel good.
Having a studio to go to for work has really helped me have more balance in my life. When I come into the studio I feel much more focused than previously. It's also nice to be part of a community - apart from having a relationship with the director, storyboarding is a very lonely job! You grind away drawing all day without really speaking to anyone. Getting to know the other Alma residents gives me a boost when I've been sitting in silence for most of the day.
What are you most looking forward to for 2023?
I think continuing to grow as an artist. My main skill is drawing and it takes practice, and more practice. It's a hard discipline and you're never satisfied but the process of getting better is always more rewarding than any individual results.
I'm also looking forward to working on more personal projects and any travel I get to do this year.