3DTotal: Can our readers have a little introduction from yourself please, age, location current
employment etc? Laith : My name is Laith Bahrani, I’m 27 years old and I am an alcoholic. I’m also an animator. As well as animation I draw pretty pictures and create websites that take ages to load, then don’t load at all because the server starts sulking. I work under the self-created brand of Monkeehub; a brand which started as the name for my portfolio site and is now essentially my company/wife. This and more I do all on my own from my flat in Reading, England… totally on my own…..so…..very…alone.
3DTotal : A bit about your history, when did it all start for you and did you go to art college of are you
self taught? Laith : It all started from the beginning when I began to draw before I could walk. Drawing occupied most of my childhood and I developed a real passion for cartoons, characters and anything to do with animation. I was weaned on old Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons and would watch them enthralled for hours then scamper up to my room and disappear into a frenzy of doodling and thumb-sucking.It was also during my childhood that I made the progression from scribbling on wallpaper with crayons to scribbling on computers with a mouse.Back in 1805 the Commodore Amiga personal computer came out, and I was fortunate enough to be given one by Santa.
The Amiga came packaged with a paint program called ‘Deluxe Paint’ that allowed drawing and the creation of rudimentary animation. I was immediately hooked and began trying to recreate on the screen what I could do on paper. Despite being left-handed with a pencil I strangely learnt to draw on the computer with my right-hand. This makes me digitally-ambidextrous which I believe qualifies as a super-power. I’m actually getting a cape made. Despite my passion for animation and superhero abilities I never undertook any education in the field and thus have never had any form of training or teaching. I did attempt to gain a place on an animation course for my degree, but it required a B-grade in A-level maths and I failed. A lot. In fact I got a U (ungraded). The irony was that I finished the paper in half an hour and spent the remaining 2 hours of the exam working out my mark, concluding that I would pass by a few points. As a result of this numerical inadequacy I ended up on a multimedia degree course at Plymouth University. During the course however I became introduced to a lot of the software I use in my work now such as: Photoshop, Flash, After Effects and Notepad. Despite the fact the multimedia degree wasn’t expressly concerned with animation I found myself constantly trying to steer the software and assignments towards this area. I also found myself constantly waking up with a road sign and/or traffic cone and a vague recollection of police sirens. After graduating and then missing my graduation I got my first job as a web monkee creating site designs, flash menus and site graphics.
I was hired on the strength of my portfolio (the first version of Monkeehub.com) and through exposure gained by some viral flash animations I had created. The best thing about this job was that I worked from home and never actually met my bosses. They ran the company from up in Nottingham whilst I sat in Surrey, in my pants, chain-smoking and working out of a cupboard. I finally got to meet my employers one year later when I went to see them and quit. It was a great first job and a really helpful, albeit unconventional, learning ground to start in the world of work. From there I moved to a larger multimedia agency and over the course of 3 years worked my way from junior designer to creative director.
I also worked my way from wide-eyed naivety to bitter cynicism about much of the industry and the projects I was involved with. The work was heavily presentation orientated and invariably for sales forces and marketing managers. The websites we created were subject to the scrutiny of some of the dumbest people on this planet (read: clients) and a lot of creativity, innovation and joy was sucked out of projects long before they ever saw the light of internet explorer. Then eventually my morale sunk
so low that I began to create personal projects outside my
job to release the creative frustration I felt. Low Morale (www.lowmorale.co.uk) was one such project, and the beginning of the end…of the beginning. This web-series was borne directly from the torment and anguish suffered at the hands of clueless clients, soul-sapping sales people and an environment of banality and blue-chips. Low Morale led to ‘Creep’ (www.lowmorale.co.uk/creep), an uncommissioned music video to Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. The piece was created over a period of 3 months, working every night and weekend after work. The reaction the piece received once it was complete was so positive and overwhelming that it gave me the confidence to leap from the well-trodden, well-paid lanes of the rat-race to the hedonistic and poverty-stricken road of freelance. I quit my full-time job in January 2005 and flung my liberated carcass into the creative abyss of self-employment.
3DTotal :So, I heard on some backwater radio station about some UK band called Nizlopi and they have a funny little music video for their new release - JCB Song, do you know anything about this?