Catching up with Drew Christie After His Sundance Success

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The last time Seattle magazine spoke with Drew Christie, local animator/illustrator and one of our 2010 Spotlight Award Winners, he was screening a short film at Northwest Film Forum’s Local Sightings Film Festival in Seattle – and fantasizing about doing the “most time-consuming kind of animation…maybe scrimshaw or embroidery animation.”

He still hasn’t accomplished the latter. “And for that I am bummed,” he says in perfect deadpan pitch.

On the other hand, the 27 year-old just screened one of his animated short films at Sundance Film Festival, America’s most influential indie film fest.

“Song of the Spindle” is a funny, charming short film about a dialogue between a man who looks a lot like Christie and an insightful whale that makes a case for how music can save the world (and that whales are smarter than humans).

The inspiration for the film came to Christie when he heard a story on the radio about a neuron that both whales and humans have in their brains. Called the spindle, this tiny neuron is responsible for compassion, understanding and the ability to understand music.

The film was well received at Sundance; PBS is interested in possibly licensing the film for TV and Christie is fielding inquiries from film festivals around the world, including Madeira Film Festival, located on the Portuguese island off the coast of Africa. He’s also been invited to Mountainfilm in Telluride (Colorado), the Ashland Film Festival (Oregon), and the Nantucket Film festival (“I’ll probably go to that one,” he says, “I always wanted to go to Nantucket Whaling Museum.”)

His drawings and films take a lot of inspiration from quirky figures and events in American history, particularly in the 19th century. Miners, ne'er-do-wells and animals seem to be his favorite subjects and they come alive in his sardonic drawings and films. Part flip book, part shadow puppet theater, and part comic books, Drew Christie's animations are what happens when a fresh imagination looks into the past.

He’s currently working on a book of drawings of antique instruments, and also an animated short told from the perspective of a nutria living in Lake Washington. He lives in Cherry Hill in Seattle. "I'm not sure if that counts as a neighborhood," he says. "But it's the name of the newsletter I get."

Also of interest: Christie recently launched a new art subscription series called The Drew Quarterly. For $45 a year (a bargain!), you’ll get four different Drew Christie creations mailed to you throughout the year. Each work will be a surprise: it could be a drawing, a magazine, a DVD, or some surprise he hasn’t yet thought up.

Follow his work at his new website

Watch "Song of the Spindle" here: