Willy Mutuku


As a Berlin-based artist, I've developed a deep appreciation for the significance of art and its diverse applications in everyday life. Born in Kenya, I migrated to Germany, specifically Berlin, at the age of 10. It wasn't until my twenties that I fully embraced art as my calling, venturing into freelance work at 26. Initially drawn to illustration, I soon found my passion evolving towards the captivating world of 2D animation. In this realm, I've discovered a profound means of storytelling, transcending language barriers and captivating global audiences.

Q: Tell us about yourself and your journey as an animator (How did you get started? What inspired you to get into the animation space? Etc.)

I am an animator based in Berlin, where I immigrated when I was 10 years old. I had a big challenge figuring out what I wanted to become due to so many interests. At some point, I decided to become an animation director as a means of strategically combining all of my interests into storytelling.

Q: What animation style/s do you animate in? How has your style evolved over time?

My style is a mix between Western and Eastern (anime) animation. I aim to blendDisney's traditional animation with the realistic approach of Japanese and Korean animation, while still leaving room for other styles I find interesting. Nowadays, I try to have no specific style and instead stay adaptive and explore other artists' approaches.

Q: Are there any animators, films or art movements that inspire your style?

When it comes to animation, I'm drawn to artists who keep things as simple as possible. There's an anime movie called "Ocean Waves" from Studio Ghibli that inspired the way I draw the eyes. It saves a lot of work.

Q: What genre do you find most fulfilling or enjoyable to animate?

Since I started animating, I aimed for a realistic anime approach, but I've started to get a bit bored and decided my next personal project will be completely different, merging as many styles as possible.

Q: What tools and software do you use?

My current software for animation includes Adobe Animate, Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, and After Effects.

Q: What does your creative process look like? What comes first?

I usually start with thumbnails and try animating as soon as possible.

Q: Which part of the animation process is your favorite? (character design, storyboarding, animatics, etc.)

It really depends on the complexity of the scene, sometimes I really enjoy rough animations. Other times it’s very exhausting. Surprisingly, I tend to enjoy painting the backgrounds. It can be really relaxing.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring animators based on personal experience and industry insights?

Personally and from experience, developing an introspective, curious character will help to expand capabilities and optimize the management of overcoming obstacles. My advice is to get to know yourself, work on your character, develop a good relationship with yourself, others, and life in general as much as you can. Don't let your profession become your only identity. Try to stay detached and flexible! Regarding skill acquisition, aim to master the fundamentals of your given profession. There is this saying "that true ability requires no effort," so the more effort you put into learning the fundamentals, the less stress and more enjoyment you will experience. In terms of industry insights, I still consider myself somewhat of a beginner, having resumed animating only 2.5 years ago. However, I've found that by actively marketing myself on social media, opportunities have begun to unfold. Nearly every job offer I receive now originates from various social media platforms.

Q: How do you navigate periods of creative block?

I think taking time to simply do nothing is very underrated.

Q: What did you enjoy the most about the latest story you animated for Storiaverse? What was the most challenging?

I am really enjoying the location in which the story I am animating is taking place. It's East Africa, where my origins are, and just by coincidence, my next personal project was also going to take place in East Africa. A big challenge is having a quick work flow while trying to maintain good quality.

Q: What motivated your decision to collaborate with Storiaverse?

I really love the concept of Storiaverse in terms of how the medium of animation is used to collaborate with writers.

Q: How do you think animation can play a role in promoting diversity and representation?

Animation has always been a medium in which stories can be told that people relate to. So if we can manage to tell good, thoughtful stories through animation, we surely can contribute to cultivating a diverse, linked society.

Q: What do you love most about the animation space and what draws you to adult animation specifically?

I love stories and storytelling, both in live-action movies and in animation. I just happen to draw, which made me become an animator.

Q: Where do you think the animation industry is heading?

I think as long as humans love stories, animation will always be around.