A Focused Experience: Panny Chayapumh on Printed Work and Animation

Some of the younger folks may not remember, but there was a time in the early 2010s when the future of books was very much in question, and we don't just mean declining popularity. 

There was a feeling at the time that printed media, all of it, would migrate to the realm of e-readers and tablets, and that physical books would be little more than a novelty. 

Ten years later, that's not really the direction things have taken. Physical books still have a strong, dedicated audience, and, more relevant to today's discussion, designers and printers are doing some incredibly interesting things with physical books, things that simply can't be done digitally. 

Panny Chayapumh is a creative originally from Thailand who has been working with notable organizations and brands here in the US for years. 

She has created visual identity systems, branding materials, and NFTs, just to name a few of her projects. But we really wanted to focus on two of her specializations. 

Right now, Chayapumh is working with the creative studio Special Special as a designer, and in addition to digital designs, she has a deep understanding of the intricacies of book design as well as animation, the latter of which we also managed to cover during our brief interview with Chayapumh. 

So come along and learn about how creative luminaries are finding ways to keep these design categories interesting and vital. 

We'd like to ask about your involvement with printed materials and animation. First, would you call these specializations or simply areas of interest? How did you get involved in these specific areas?

Chayapumh: For as long as I can remember I’ve always loved printed material. There’s something so special about receiving something tangible, well-produced in the mail. In this context, I’m thinking about an invite. But I’ve always loved taking time to look through books, feeling the paper stocks, and examining the covers. There’s a real craft! 

For all the printed materials that I’ve designed, I’ve always worked very closely with the printer. You end up building a good relationship with a printer who is there to kind of troubleshoot and work with the production needs. It’s a whole other step added to the design project. You digitally design the contents, and then afterward, you carefully manage the production of the physical object. 

I started getting into animation because I’ve always loved storytelling. In printed media, you can tell a story through the sequencing of pages, but sometimes you’re not given the luxury of that real estate. So animation is a great way to create more detailed works. And sometimes the animations aren’t even particularly complicated, they just embellish what you’re already working with, whether that’s typography, illustration, or photo and image making. 

Sometimes it gives the work an extra sparkle. I’ve always been heavily involved with the animations that I've done, from designing the movement to creating the assets and making the objects move the way I need them to.

What is it about printed work that appeals to you?

Chayapumh: I think so much of our lives happens digitally. I’ve always been someone that keeps birthday cards, little notes, photos, and handwritten letters. So the tangible quality of printed material really appeals to me. And decision-making! In the process of getting something printed, you have to make those final decisions, and I think in the digital realm we love to see more options and swap things out here and there. 

So practicing some final decision-making just makes the item feel a lot more special! I also think that there are some subtle things that you can do with choosing the paper stock, the type of printing, the material for the cover, and the binding that can really make the digital design of a layout sing.

Do you feel that there's a unique type of interaction between a viewer and printed work as opposed to viewing digital work?

Chayapumh: I like to think that the interaction between a viewer and printed work is more focused. There’s a lot more control. In other words, you're holding an object you can view from any angle you’d like. Whereas, with digital work, it depends on where you're seeing it. You can be viewing it through social media or on a digital billboard, and most of those have a time limit so you can't control the amount of time you're spending with the work.

In terms of the physical parameters, what are some of the aspects of contemporary printing that interest you most?

Chayapumh: I think artbooks are so lovely or any editions that are being produced in a small run. Mainly because the idea is to create a really special object where all aspects of the book are considered. And in most cases, there aren’t really that many constraints!

Regarding your animation work, do you tend to prefer 3D or 2D animation? Do you see value/possibilities in both?

Chayapumh: I’m a lot more experienced in 2D animation. I don’t have a preference in terms of what I like. I would love to spend more time improving my skills with 3D animation. Sometimes I feel like the interfaces for the programs aren’t particularly intuitive. But in terms of appreciation, I value them both equally. I think the studio Small Editions in Brooklyn does a great job with this!

Are there specific programs you tend to use for your animation work? What is your overall impression of the capabilities of the software you've used?

Chayapumh: I mostly use Adobe After Effects. I’ve been using it for more than five years now, and in general, I think it has a lot to offer! You can bring in 3D objects and animate stuff in there if it's on the simpler side. It has worked out for me well and I think there’s still some stuff left to be discovered! There’s just so much you can do in that program. And your expertise in a program really just grows alongside your natural curiosity.

Are there any influences within contemporary animation that have really spoken to you?

Chayapumh: I think what I’m usually most impressed by or find really interesting is the thought behind the animation. By this I mean if you see an illustration transform from one thing to another and it’s done in a really unexpected way, that is what impresses me the most. I think the thought process is what gets to me the most because I’m like wow how did someone think of it? The actual animation and getting things to move is more of a problem-solving issue.

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