Drawing from the everyday, Raj Jeshang creates serene and charming still animations

When the 2000s came, Raj travelled to the US to study film and animation at the Savannah College of Art and Design, acquiring bott a BFA and MFA in the moving image field. Nine years down the line he moved to Brooklyn, where he currently resides and works as a full-time animator and illustrator spanning motion graphics, 3D art, video editing and kinetic typography. All of which succumbs to an exceptional level of storytelling, where Raj carves out narratives and visuals for clients such as Origins, Bumble and Bumble, Nest Fragrances, Topix Skincare and Philosophy.
“Naturally,” he adds, “I wondered how animations were made and my dad showed me how to make a flip book. It really blew my mind to see a ball bounce on paper. After that, I made a flip book out of novels, textbooks, notebooks – anything I could get my hands on. Even into high school, during class I made flip books in the margins of a rocket taking off. My teachers weren’t happy about it.”
It’s always brave to go against the grain and follow your own path, rather than someone else’s. When Raj Jeshang was growing up in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, he was discouraged by his parents from pursuing anything creative. Instead, they wanted him to attend a top university in America or the UK and become a doctor or engineer. “An animator was not a respected career to them,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Now, they’re glad I never gave into the pressure to be someone I didn’t want to be.”
His successful artistic practice, then, is something that he nurtured from a young age. Growing up, Raj would often watch his father draw and asked him to teach the technique of observational drawing. “I loved aviation, and when I was four or five, he would take me to the airport to watch airplanes and I’d draw them,” he recalls. “I also remember him explaining how perspective works.” Another fond memory is of the family-run auto shop, which Raj would help out at once he was older, making licence plates and in turn gaining a steadier hand. “I loved painting the numbers and letters by hand, though I made a lot of mistakes,” he says. Coupled with an adoration for flip books and cartoons – plus an inquisition as to how they were created – this would effectively go on to steer his artworks down the line.

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