There’s no need to take life too seriously is there? On the evidence of his closing talk at November’s Nicer Tuesdays, we can assume that Peter Millard doesn’t, and it’s working pretty well for him.
In his talk he guided us through his animation career to date, an art access course in the Malvern Hills being his starting point. You hear many stories about people meeting like-minded individuals for the first time when beginning their art studies, but this wasn’t the case for Peter. He was slightly younger than the rest of his classmates (think multiple decades), but recalled the time with much enthusiasm: “I studied life drawing. And painting fruit.”
From here he went to south Wales to the University of Newport, where he studied animation. “I worked really hard,” he told the audience in front of a picture of him dressed as an older lady – we obviously took him at his word on this one.
This “hard work” did eventually pay off, as his portfolio of pieces with weird and wonderful titles earned him a place on an MA Animation course at The Royal College of Art. Following more “hard work” during his master’s, he worked at the Natural History Museum for a number of years whilst building up his portfolio of work. “Whilst there I made a lot of short films in my spare time, and was lucky enough to visit a lot of countries and go to film festivals,” he recalled.
His work continued to lead him abroad, where he was a wonderfully behaved ambassador for the British Arts Council, who funded his regular trips to the Ottawa International Animation Festival. “I was definitely not putting the British animation industry to shame,” he said adamantly. His contacts he built up there led to him being asked to provide an animation for the 2017 edition of the festival. “That played before every single screening,” he said about his energetic moose-filled clip, “I bet they didn’t regret that choice…”
Since then, Peter has branched out from animation, and he explained to us his ambitions to work more in sculpture and illustration following a successful first exhibition in Berlin. He also gave the audience an interesting insight into how he works in his studio, including his carefully curated sing-a-long soundtrack of Whitney Houston and the Village People.
Aside from his own work, he told us how he is now teaching the next generation too. “Somehow I managed to convince Kingston University School of Art to give me a job as a permanent lecturer on the illustration and animation course,” he said, “I’m having a blast.”
It definitely shows!