Wake Your Inner 8-Year- Old: Errandboy Interview
Inner children, manual CGI, and what a bucket of confusion has to do with skate culture.
By Maria Popova
Today, we’re picking the brains of Willy Sions, the creative visionary behind Errandboy — one of the coolest creative projects we’ve ever come across, a lovely mission bundled with superb creative execution and smart social commentary.
Hey Willy, good to have you. Tell us a bit about your background and your brand of creative curiosity.
Thanks. It’s a pleasure to be a part of Brain Pickings. I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I’ve always been one to exercise the imagination and let the curious mind wander. Our world and things people are into, do, and create, have always been a great interest and inspiration for me. After college, I started working in advertising. Now, I try to keep myself involved in a mix of creative services from advertising, action sport photography, and artist album design.
OK, what is Errandboy?
Errandboy is the 8-Year-Old Wonderchild. He represents the pure fun of childhood. His point of view comes from the inner child and being untainted by the adult world. He is a creative platform and a social commentary piece that started in 2003.
Errandboy is universally relevant in spirit, but he’s also rooted in skate culture, right? Tell us a bit more about that connection.
Yes, Errandboy definitely has been born from the skate culture. Most of my life has been spent immersed in the skateboarding and surfing worlds and many of the influences surrounding them since the late 70’s.
I’ve always admired the attitude and individuality that is inherent in skateboarding. It didn’t matter who you were, what you did, or where you came from. The only thing that mattered was having fun and riding a skateboard.
We love Errandboy’s mantra, “Don’t Act Your Age. Unless You’re 8.” What are some of his messages to the adult world that help break down our grown-up barricades and self-constructed realities?
Errandboy’s messages tend to vary, but for the most part he doesn’t believe in the adult make-believe world. He likes pointing out its nonsense and how silly things can be. Other times he might remind us of simpler ways, forgotten values or the joy and fun too easily neglected in adult life.
For example, there’s a “Don’t Forget to Play in the Dirt” Game Boy design. This tells kids and adults alike to turn off the technology and be active. Sometimes Errandboy’s messages are posed as questions. For instance, “What do you want to be when you don’t grow up?”
If anything, Errandboy can serve as a little tap on the shoulder to remind us of what’s really important – whether you’re 8 or 88.
The Playground is beyond impressive – so much so that it gives the illusion of being CGI. How long did it take you to design and construct? How did you shoot it?
The website took nearly two years to complete. It started with initial concept sketches and CAD designs for both the toys and playground set. Foam core and paper comps were used to test construction and then the elements were cut from metal. Mini-trees were used, which I glued foliage onto and painted. The trees alone took about a week to finish. The set is a Styrofoam-tiered Lazy Susan that sits in a rig outfitted with studio lighting and fluorescent black lights. Glow-in-the-dark paints were used for trim and graphics on the toys.
Everything was shot with 2 Nikon D200’s and stop-frame animation software to capture the 988 frames used for navigating the playground. For every regular-lit frame, an identical glow-in-the-dark frame was shot so it could be programmed to toggle seamlessly between states.
Separate images were also shot for the curtains, submarine periscope, slide, and limeade stand. Once all of the assets were captured, individual frames were retouched and the animations tested to determine the right balance of quality and file size. The Flash work then began on the pre-loader, introduction and main navigation. Coding for the rest of the site followed.
What’s your vision for the Errandboy brand moving forward?
At this point, I want to keep having fun and evolving it in different ways. There are so many facets to it now and a slew of new creative initiatives on the way. One of the next things you’ll see from Errandboy is a postal letter campaign that is going to be lots of fun. Getting into short films or an animated series is definitely on the list. I’m currently looking for the right partners to help move that forward.
There may also be some other characters showing up in the playground soon, so you’ll have to come back later and play…
Let Errandboy bring your inner 8-year-old out to play, and show him some love by grabbing some delightfully quirky Errandboy goodies at the storefront — we like the Bucket of Confusion, and those skate decks are pretty sweet.
Published March 3, 2010