As Emil Villumsen drifted into sleep, an idea struck him.
An idea for an art book that would create a new way to communicate eye-opening lessons and messages concerning animation, storytelling, and other artistic ventures.
This book, titled “How We Crafted,” is now a reality. It was produced by Craft, which Emil co-founded in 2016 with his brother, Frederik Villumsen. The Copenhagen-based company is partially owned by Danish animation studio Nørlum and seeks to guide and encourage aspiring creators.
“Craft is based on this mission we wrote when we conceptualized the company: so much inspiration, knowledge, and material often gets left on a hard drive after a project finishes, when it could instead inspire the next beautiful indie projects,” Emil said. “For the past two years, we’ve built an online platform that hosts thousands and thousands of raw material pieces from high quality projects in animation, illustration, game design, and graphic novels.”
It was this mission and a 2018 resolution to focus less on only artwork and more on stories that took “How We Crafted” from a concept to a concrete commodity. Emil said the entire Craft team, comprised of Anders Nielsen, Niklas Kiær, Claudia Cazzato, Claus Toksvig Kjær, Jericca Cleland, Frederik, and himself, worked hard to produce the book, which has a Kickstarter campaign. “How We Crafted” contains 176 pages reflecting upon 12 projects from 12 creators, and each creator and their project receives a 12 page chapter.
“‘How We Crafted A Mythical World For Song Of The Sea’ and ‘How We Crafted A Feature Film Taking The Hard Way Out For Loving Vincent’ are just two of the 12 chapters where professionals in animation, illustration, and graphic novels break down their process in a super practical art book rich with high quality artwork,” Emil said.
The 12 creators in the project were chosen from a pool of individuals who signed with Craft. The creators’ unique perspectives on multiple topics allow readers to, as Jean-Charles Mbotti Malolo of the film The Sense of Touch said, “compare and dive in many different mindsets”– a sentiment Emil agrees with.
“They’re chosen for their high quality and diversity of craftsmanships and genre,” Emil said. “In one end of the scale, we got feature films like The Breadwinner and Loving Vincent, talking about their process of directing and pitching a project. In the other end we got agile small teams like BenniSteptoe creating impulsive comics and Pernille Ørum, who makes a living as a visual developer and illustrator with a dedicated audience.”
“How We Crafted” is resolved in its vision to detail the process of creating films, art, and other forms of creative content and to stray from traditional, often overused outlets of teaching, such as YouTube tutorials and online courses.
“[We wanted] super practical and narrowed down stories with concrete take aways,” Emil said. “Not ‘How We Crafted Song of the Sea’ but ‘How We Crafted A Mythical World For Song Of The Sea’– something that is derived from their learnings but is useful for everyone making a mythical world. It’s not a stepwise breakdown of how to draw, and it’s not only about the project. It’s what we believe is a sweet spot in between.”
Nørlum CCO and partner Jericca Cleland, whose chapter focuses on the currently in development Spirit Seeker, said she hopes readers will learn more about the film team’s creative process, “especially in terms of how [they] think about world building and character development and the approach to creating the story.”
“I think there’s an opportunity to gain something from seeing how we work together, how we take advantage of our individual skills in the collaboration,” Cleland said. “Of course, I would like them to feel interested in the world, intrigued by the characters, [and] excited about their journey, as well.”