Behind the scenes with Wallace & Gromit’s Creative Director

Posted on by Fay Curtis.

Merlin Crossingham, Creative Director – Wallace & Gromit, Aardman Animations

Photo of Merlin Crossingham setting up a Wallace & Gromit setWallace & Gromit (W&G) were created by Nick Park and have grown in popularity over 25 years. So much so that there is simply too much going on in the W&G world for Nick to keep on top of everything. That’s where I come in.

As creative director of Wallace & Gromit I work with a team of people at Aardman to make sure that everything that is created with or for W&G lives up to the expectations of Nick and Aardman Animations (the studio where we make W&G). W&G are involved in many different types of projects from books and websites to commercials, short films and live events. With such a diverse range of projects there is never a dull moment.

Helping to create the Wallace & Gromit from the drawing board exhibition with M Shed has been great fun. The best thing is that it is on our door step. The Aardman Animation HQ is just along the dockside from the museum. This is the first time a W&G exhibition has been so close, usually I have to travel to the other side of the country or go abroad. It is really great that we finally have a W&G exhibition not only in Bristol but literally round the corner from the studio. But despite it being so close every time I had to go to a meeting or site visit the heavens opened when I was half way there and I always got caught without a brolly or coat and I arrived soaking wet, I think the M Shed team thought I swam to meetings.

Photo of Merlin Crossingham and David Sproxton at the set up for the Wallace & Gromit from the drawing board exhibition at M ShedWorking with W&G every day we are constantly looking forward to planning the next thing or having our heads focused on the current project. But with Wallace & Gromit from the drawing board it was fantastic to have a proper look back at our archive and uncover and share our approach to telling a story with W&G. I must say that our warehouse fire of 2005 did make representing some of the W&G films harder. Never the less I think that we got there in the end.

Having worked with W&G for many years now first as an animator and then as a director, I have got to know them really well – they feel like old friends. It is this knowledge of them as ‘characters’ that really is the secret to creating anything new around them. Learning how everything should look is relatively easy, but it is the W&G sense of humour and understanding how they would make something that is the secret. It is the hardest thing to get right, but the most satisfying when it is.

Image showing Wallace holding a M Shed clipboard and Gromit drawing at a desk

Wallace & Gromit from the drawing board continues at M Shed until Sunday 7 September.

Don’t miss Characters from Clay with Aardman – these special model making workshops are taking place on 12 and 26 August as part of the exhibition events programme.

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