Introducing Vera Van Wolferen
10 November 2022
If you are not familiar with Vera van Wolferen, let us introduce you! Vera is a stop-motion director and set designer from the Netherlands. A playful escapist, Vera creates intricate and meticulously-constructed scenes out of paper, cardboard and wood, bringing to life miniature magical worlds.
Her incredibly articulate and delicately constructed worlds constructed by papercraft have won the hearts of many, scoring her clients such as Heineken, Facebook, Bosch and Ortec. We caught up with Vera to find out more about her creative process and what she has been working on recently.
Your architectural creations have sparked international recognition. We particularly love the feeling of escapism that you create in your craft, is this an intentional emotion you wish your audience to feel?
I love that my work communicates the same feeling that I have when making it. When crafting, I enjoy escaping into my dreamt-up worlds. It still feels magical to me what happens when I allow my brain to wander off and get creative.
I really enjoy starting with a blank canvas. I think it’s about trusting your creative instinct without judgment. Doing creative work for me feels like escaping ‘the real world’ and I just love the feeling of being in my own invented universe.
A recent project of yours has been creating a stop-motion video to raise awareness about bullying among children. What inspired you to create this? Is mental health a topic you would like to explore further in your work?
I’m currently developing and directing the short film Down in the Dumps. It’s about a ladybug whose shield gets stolen. As a result, she sinks through her bed into an underground world. This world is inhabited by a centipede that lures her deeper and deeper into the darkness until she gets swallowed by this monster that resembles her negative inner voice. It’s dark but it ends well, I promise…
I found inspiration for the story in my own experience and the experiences of friends with feelings of burnout and depression. By making a film about depression I want to show young people they’re not the only ones that have dark thoughts. It’s important to provide children with the tools to communicate their feelings and I think by showing examples, you can get the conversation started.
I would definitely like to create more projects about mental health because these are really important stories to tell. As a visual artist, you have the vehicles to help by creating images for subjects that might be difficult to communicate verbally.
Watch Catch a Bird and Ladybug now...
Can you please take us through your creative process on a static and animated project?
The starting point is the same, most of the time I start by creating digital 3D mock-ups. I think in 3D, so it comes naturally to me to sketch in 3D. When working on an illustration the next step would be translating the models into blueprints that are cut by a paper plotter. I then glue the models together by hand and add all the tiny details.
For animation, I first create a storyboard. This storyboard is translated into an animatic, a sort of moving storyboard with very limited movements. You sketch out the story using timing and rhythm. In this phase, you often already add audio. Once this is set in stone you can start designing and crafting the set and characters. When those are finished it’s time to shoot.
I often use a mix of stop-motion animation and digital cut-outs. Even when the animation is done digitally, I first create and photograph all elements so it has that handmade and analogue feel.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a papercraft artist?
I love working with paper because you can always see the hand of the maker through the designs. If you compare analogue techniques to digital ones, the challenging aspect is that you have to make all your design choices in the sketch phase. You can’t change the colour of an object with a mouse click once the illustration or animation is finished. But thinking your designs through in the sketch phase is always a good idea and this way of working forces you to make important decisions early in the process.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I live in The Hague in The Netherlands and enjoy the architecture surrounding me here. Whenever I see a cool car or van I have to take a picture. I’m also a fan of arthouse films, graphic novels and animated shorts. I live close to a movie theatre and since my son was born, I have started going to the cinema by myself which I enjoy.
Watch Vera's How To Catch A Bird animation now...
Explore Vera's portfolio...