Griffith animation student wins top UK design prize

Griffith Film School animation student Julen Goñi has been named joint winner in the Moving Pictures category at the Royal Society of the Arts 2019 Student Design Awards in London.

The Bachelor of Animation student is currently studying abroad as part of Griffith’s Go Global student exchange program, spending the past 12 months at the Edinburgh College of Art.

The RSA Student Design Awards are the longest running student competition in the world. Previous winners have included design luminaries like Apple Chief Design Officer Sir Jonny Ives, Nike Design VP Richard Clarke and the designer of the world’s first laptop, Bill Moggridge.

Tackling the big issues

In the Moving Pictures category, students were tasked with creating an animated film using audio taken from a series of public talks at the RSA. Julen chose to animate a speech by Sam Conniff Allende, based on his book ‘How to be More Pirate’.

“The audio is about how young people are challenging the inequities in the world,” he said.

“The animation I made used character animation to translate the concepts in the speech as visually as possible, showing how younger people can band together and be a force for change.”

Competing on the world stage

Julen was one of seven young creatives shortlisted for the award, and was put through his paces during a rigorous selection process.

“I only had two weeks to settle the concept before I had to go straight into production, and right up to the last moment, I was trying to find little effects and different ways to colour the characters to make the style pop a bit more,” he said.

“I was thrilled to be be part of the RSA shortlist – I was invited us to London where I had to present my full project to the panel judges, the ideas behind the animation, explain my stylistic choices, my process and the rest of my body of work,” he said.

“It felt very much like I was applying for an internship or pitching for a film.”

His winning 60-second clip was lauded by the judging panel for “a brilliant grasp of how to portray emotion and character using only a few lines… the pacing, which built to a really effective climax, was also wonderfully done.”

‘An unforgettable year’

Julen said the award was “the icing on the cake” after a fulfilling year in the UK on exchange.

“It’s a great way to finish up an unforgettable creative and adventure-filled year overseas, the award ceremony was one of the last things I do before heading home from Europe,” he said.

“Carving out a career in the creative industries can sometimes feel like you’re climbing up a mountain – there’s a thousand different paths, so having your work validated is like a marker telling you that you’re on your way up.”

A strong foundation

Julen said his studies at Griffith Film School had given him the skills he needed to compete on the world stage.

“I felt that the broad range of practical skills I’d gained during the Bachelor of Animation at Griffith, really helped me to work on concept design, character design, storyboarding, animatics and 2D animation,” he said.

“It was great having the framework in university to push my limits, see what I could make in a couple of months and do something that gives you that real world experience.

“I’m very grateful to Griffith’s Go Global program and the Edinburgh College of Art for giving me the opportunity to enjoy the best year of my life.

“I feel very ready to come home, finish my last semester and complete my final year film with my classmates.

“After that, it’s graduation and off to navigate the seas ahead!”