Lucy Koger, a Q&A: Blending Calligraphy and Animation

by Tuesday Pil

Lucy working on an animatic.

This weekend, I sat with Lucy Koger, a freshman at North Carolina State University. Using his instagram, @lucythewizbard, Lucy creates animatics: multimedia content that blends calligraphy art, animation, and music. Lately, Lucy had been listening to a new musical, In Pieces by Joey Contreras, garnering ideas for animatics. In the meantime, he also creates graphic comics and delves into short poetry. On October 14, Lucy had performed his limericks on stage at the Windhover Open Mic Night at Caldwell Lounge. 

I had the chance to interview Lucy about his creative process and projects. 

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What is your full name and year? What pronouns do you go by? 

My name is Lucy Koger. I’m a freshman here, and I use he, she or they pronouns.

What are your main social media handles to promote your work? 

It’s @lucythewizbard on Instagram, and my channel on YouTube is just called Lucy The Wizbard.

Are there personally any negative effects of working and promoting primarily on social media? 

Honestly, for me, the main bad effect of it is comparing myself to other people’s work. Like, I’ll put a post out there that I really like — it gets twenty or thirty likes — and I’m like, yeah that’s a good number, that’s fine. But then I’m scrolling Instagram and I see that someone has made an edit of song lyrics, and it’s just like, written on a piece of notebook paper and it’s poorly timed. And it’s gone viral for some reason, and I’m like seething. I’m like: “I do that, but better, and I get less attention!” 

Can you define, for the general audience, what an animatic is? 

Basically . . . it’s a song lyric video that’s animated so that the words show up in time with the music. I think that’s like the most basic, technical definition of it. It’s basically a lyric video but with style! 

Where and how did you get the inspiration for your multimedia work? 

I was really into lettering…I took some calligraphy classes, I really liked it, and as I started posting more on my Instagram and doing more calligraphy, I wanted to combine it with my love of music. 

I kinda started getting these ideas about doing more than just one line of a song, like filling up a piece of paper with it, and the problem I kept coming back to is: how are people going to read this in order?… I was like, well maybe if I have the words show up in order, people could read it, and it all kind of spiralled out from there. 

What kinds of media do you work with? 

I do almost all of my animatics on index cards. …There’s something about working with that space on the paper that really just kind of works with me — having that small, limited space in front of me. When I want to do a longer animatic, I’ll just use multiple index cards instead of filling up a larger space. 

As for my drawings and art supplies, I actually often just use ballpoint pens or gel pens…I’m familiar with them, I like working with them…I’ve worked with ink and water brush before, I’ve done alcohol markers, watercolors, a couple of other things. 

What do you hope to achieve with your work?

I don’t really have any big ambitions. I want to keep getting better and I want to make things that are pretty and also that are emotional. For me, I think it’s a lot about that personal improvement — like working to better convey the sadness of a certain song or taking a piece of music that’s really expressive and trying to fit it to a visual. 

What are some obstacles that come up during your process?

There are a lot of them and a lot of variation. I think a lot of it ties back to the fact that this is a very kind of original art form to me — which is both good and bad because I really like inventing my own process instead of trying to learn the right way to do something else. But then I can kind of get stuck with limited resources. If I can’t figure out how to do something, it’s unlikely that other people have even been trying it. 

Do you do commissions or collaborations? 

I would if I could. I haven’t really had much opportunity to do [commissions] yet. I have done collaborative efforts with friends before, but it’s still me doing art. I’ve animated songs that my friends sing…

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After asking this set of questions, I had Lucy sit down and demonstrate his creation process for his animatics. He garnered his supplies: index cards, colored ballpoint pens, and a piece of music from In Pieces.

“So, basically, all of my animatics start with a concept…before I even start drafting anything, I know vaguely what it’s going to look like,” he explained. 

While playing me a few minutes of his chosen song, Lucy sat in silence and brainstormed. Then, using a pencil, he began to sketch what looked like broken shards of glass throughout an index card. 

Lucy expanded on his thought process for his design, “I wanted to focus on the whole fragmented-pieces-imagery, but also the part of the song I wanted to focus on…it’s part of the chorus…but then it breaks out into this, like, big emotional part…”

He began playing the song again, counting the words before the emotional climax and drawing the right amount of fragments. Lucy then took a blue pen, writing each word within a fragment piece. Using various calligraphy techniques, he made sure to vary the design of his words, utilizing the space within his drawings. 

After completing a card, Lucy would scan it onto his computer and upload it to his animation program, Krita. Using a white digital marker, he layers white over certain words, frame by frame, to make letters appear on time with the music. Lucy furthermore uses sheet music in order to count the notes and get the timing exactly right. When finished, his animatics get posted on his Instagram, @lucythewizbard, and he moves on to the next project.

Lucy’s creative work is a mix of musical and animation knowledge, calligraphy skills, and a whole lot of heart.