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Jenny Jokela

MA Animation, 2015–17

What were you doing before you started at the RCA?

I did a BA in Fashion Promotion and Imaging at the University for the Creative Arts in Epsom. Animation was something I became interested in, so I learnt it on the side in the last year of my BA and then by teaching myself. I’d done a lot of photography and drawing, but it was animation that felt like the way I could really express myself in the way I wanted. After graduating, I worked for a couple of years as a freelance animator, much of which was fashion related.

Why did you want to apply to do a Master’s?

I’d reached the limits of teaching myself and wanted to improve my animation skills and meet other people; I felt quite isolated, because I hadn’t studied animation so I didn’t have that community around me. Freelance projects are so time-constrained that I often felt like I didn’t have the time to develop a concept or think deeply about what I’m trying to say; it’s often superficial. I wanted the opportunity to develop my own voice as an animator.

What drew you to the RCA in particular?

I looked at other postgraduate universities but only applied to the RCA, because my style of animation is very much at the fine art end of the spectrum and the RCA was the only programme that felt inclined that way.

What is the mix of students like?

I’ve been extremely lucky with my class, which is a group of really supportive and friendly people and I’ve learned so many skills from my classmates. Everyone seems to get motivation and inspiration from each other’s work.

What is a typical day like at the RCA?

Days are often really intense and long; I’m usually in when the building opens and leave when it closes. In Animation, it’s easy to get absorbed in your work and be here every day of the week. There’s a lot of hard work, but being with such great people means it doesn’t always feel like that. It can get stressful and there is pressure to push yourself, but those are good challenges. 

Right now, I have studio space which is shared with Visual Communications and Information Experience Design, as well as a little space in the basement where I can concentrate with no-one to distract me, which is great.

Do you have a sense of how your work has developed over the time you’ve been at the RCA?

I think it’s developed in two ways. Firstly, my technical skills have improved so much. I was doing a lot of collage and experimental stuff when I started, and no drawing, but now I’m doing hand-painted animation; my final film is completely painted, so that’s a big thing for me. 

Secondly, I’ve developed conceptually. At the beginning, I really struggled to articulate what my work is about. I think that’s been the hardest challenge, but I’ve definitely got better at it, and that’s largely thanks to the tutors constantly questioning you in tutorials, and to showing work and talking about it in presentations.

What have you found especially rewarding about your time at the RCA?

Aside from the community and the opportunity to learn from great people, as someone who has freelanced for a while, I’m always aware of what a luxury it is to not have to worry about the opinions of clients and to instead have two years to fully concentrate on your own work.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

For the rest of the year, I’ll be working on my film... every day! My dissertation was concerned with feminism and the film has come out of similar concerns. I’m interested in how to express female sexuality and femininity in a way where the woman depicted is still empowered in how she is being viewed. I used to volunteer in a rape crisis centre, so the film is also about coping after sexual assault, but in a very visceral, poetic and quite surreal way.

"I’m always aware of what a luxury it is to not have to worry about the opinions of clients and to instead have two years to fully concentrate on your own work."
Jenny Jokela
Jenny Jokela