Andrés Francken

I like to tell stories with my work. I get satisfaction out of maximizing meaning through minimum means.

About

I was born in Argentina in ’95 and moved to Canada in ’02. I developed an obsession for sports early on in my life. My idea of fun as a kid was playing soccer against my stuffed animals (I was the best player on the field). I discovered Photoshop in middle school and wound up a design student. Now I excel in branding and information design, but also have an interest in narrative-driven fields, like video, animation and virtual reality. I’m committed to my work, flexible, and organized, which allows me to function across a wide range of disciplines.

Favourite or most effective re-brand you can think of?

Charlotte Hornets rebrand by RARE Design when the team was renamed in 2014.

Other than design, what creative fields interest you most?

Animation, motion graphics, virtual reality, video games and music.

What do your parents think you do?

They think I eat all the food in the house. Their thoughts are correct.

If you could learn any new skill or talent, what would it be?

How to dunk a basketball. I can probably jump about one foot off the ground, so I’m almost there.

Design Interests

Branding and Identity Design
Information Design
Motion Design
Experiential Design

A Study of Aesthetics History & Pixar Films

Origins

In February of 2016, I found myself in New York, lost in thought as I walked towards the Cooper Hewitt with a small group of friends. It was a cold evening. I was bundled up with a scarf up to my eyes and a hood over my head, which muted the sounds around me. In that isolated bubble I questioned various aspects of my life, including my place in the design industry.

I was on a trip organized by students who wished to tour studios in one of the biggest cities in the world. The Cooper Hewitt hadn’t been in our original plans, but there was an exhibit on display that had caught our attention, so a few of us decided to check it out. It was titled, Pixar: The Design of Story.

Although I have always enjoyed Pixar films, my appreciation for them has grown as I’ve gotten older. Their stories produce genuine emotion and allow me to relate back to reality. They teach lessons that help with the complexity of life.

In the two rooms that composed the exhibit, I lost track of time. I studied every piece of concept art, every sample of research, and every caption. Throughout it, I learned that Pixar strives for three things: a compelling story, appealing characters, and a believable world. In order to achieve these goals, they utilize research, iteration, and collaboration at every stage of production. As I walked around, I realized that those design process tools are the same ones that I use in my own work. That moment validated my career choice and gave me a new sense of direction to follow.

Evolution

A Study of Aesthetics History & Pixar Films is the capstone project of my time as a York/Sheridan Program in Design (YSDN) student. It is a personal exploration of the relationship between my practice and one of my passions.

The first iteration of this thesis project attempted to prove that Modernist aesthetics affect the perception of Pixar films. This idea was likely due to a personal interest in Modernism, as well as by a connection that I had made between Pixar and the Bauhaus in Germany. More specifically, my research had led me to quotes from Ed Catmull and John Lasseter – key Pixar figures – in which they described their company as a loop of synergy between artists and technologists. This brought to mind the Bauhaus Manifesto, in which Walter Gropius defined his school as a “new guild of craftsmen” that would break down the barriers between the craftsman and artist.

Further research and development made me realize that there were two major flaws with the initial hypothesis. The first was a lack of consideration for diverse influences in Pixar films. The real world is a result of infinite, varied references, and if Pixar is to create believable worlds, they too must draw inspiration from a wide range of sources. The second issue was the personal nature of the project, which implied little external input. It was unreasonable to make my initial claim without having surveyed anyone about my assumptions.

Based on these conclusions, I repositioned my thesis as a documentation of my personal observations in Pixar films, demonstrating the connections between what I saw and my art and design education.

Production

Under my new concept, I decided to produce a book that would illustrate scenes from Pixar films next to comparable historical artifacts. I re-watched all 17 movies, pausing when I noticed something that I could reference, and making note of the time and description of each scene. When my audit was complete, I conducted visual research in order to find the items that I would then relate to the screenshots that I’d taken.

When I was satisfied with the number of examples that I had accumulated, I organized my database, laying out the comparisons in different orders. In the end, I settled on arranging them chronologically, based on the timeline of history. I made this decision to give my project a secondary, educational purpose. I decided that although the project was primarily for myself and other Pixar fans, categorizing the book into historical time periods (rather than by film), would allow the piece to function as a summary of art and design history told through Pixar films.

 


With my content organized, I designed flexible templates with running heads for categorization, a spot for each image, image titles and descriptions, and information on either the film/time or author/year. Following weeks of placing images into my templates and writing copy, my book was complete.


I selected paper stocks and binding methods for the final product, based on previously conducted tests, and I printed and assembled the book myself at home. The result is a reflection of who I am; a fitting end to my YSDN story and an important chapter in my life.

See more of my work at the graduate showcase