Say hello to Loulou João and her little friend. Visual artist Julian Glander has Froshmin, a Smurf-blue kid with a bowl cut. Animator and The Weeknd video producer Jeron Braxton has the mascot Jiggle Wolf, a kind of Tex Avery toon for the trap generation. Afro-Belgian illustrator and animator Loulou João meanwhile has an avatar called Polly Focket, and she's out there playing with brands in the real world.
While a lot of animators create their own mascot for fun or branding purposes, the imaginary Polly is a way for Loulou to explore Afropean identity through her personal and client work. Latter examples include the two recent IDs or 'bumps' Loulou has made for everyone's favourite bizarro channel, Adult Swim.
"Working on IDs is just the best!" she tells Creative Boom. "I can fully express and research the narrative of my digital universe. It's a great way to develop my work, and I still have a platform to connect with an audience."
"The most difficult thing, in my opinion, is to stay within the given timeframe; 15 seconds, for example, can be strangely long and short at the same time. It depends on what kind of animated piece you want to create, the complexity of narration you want to bring."
"For Adult Swim I created three IDs (one is still in the works, almost finished!), two short ones of 15 seconds and a longer one of just under a minute (hopefully!) The pieces are autonomous and can be viewed separate from each other, but they also have a general theme where the final piece still has this cathartic moment that the other two bumpers helped to build up."
For Loulou, Polly is very much her "alter ego", and thus the main character within her work.
"I do try to gradually create and incorporate new characters within my universe, but it always has to make sense. In the Adult Swim series, I introduced a new character called Lil' Rascal (temporary name, maybe haha) who is just annoying! Polly Focket suffers from his objectification of her, but every piece has a moment where she reclaims her power."
"As Polly belongs to the African Diaspora, I love to employ her for client projects. It's like she's an actress getting hired to do a job; in a way, I'd love to think that it can help bring some more diversity and another perspective to the mainstream."
"With diversity, I mean more than just skin colour or any physical features. It's about fighting for your voice to be heard and creating a space in an industry (or even just the world) where there is none provided for you because it is still a white and cishet male-dominated field."
Loulou has also recently tried her hand at background Zoom animations, and has even made what must be this year's best lyric video.
"The animated Zoom background was for GIPHY, which was so much fun to make. It was right in the middle of the summer, which was one of the weirdest summers to experience with the global pandemic restricting the way people would normally spend the season. So I wanted to convey this sense of freedom by creating a road trip experience on a hot summer night."
"With this project, all the pieces also had to be stickers that people can use in their Instagram stories, so these elements had to stand on their own as well."
"The lyric video I made for Llusion ft. Cautious Clay meanwhile was crazy! The turnaround time was three days, and I had never made a music video before, but I was up for the challenge."
"The cover art was my starting point, and since the song immediately spoke to me, I took it from there. There is this happy and catchy melody, but then the lyrics are about going along with the emotional wave and accepting the sadness for what it is. This juxtaposition is something I also try to incorporate within my personal work; I had to keep it simple, though, because of the short deadline."
"It was a great lesson on how to be efficient. Sometimes you just need these seemingly impossible turnarounds to completely lose yourself in the task at hand. That's when the magic happens, haha!"
Follow Loulou on Instagram.