Where I'm @

This Must Be the Place

Robert-Jonathan Koeyers
Mon 1 Jun
Function Animator
Year 2018
Major Animation
Practice Autonomous Practices

What is your occupation now?

Since I graduated, I have been primarily working on commissioned work as a freelance animator. Also, I am currently in the process of working on my first short film called It’s Nice in Here, with help from the Netherlands Film Fund after winning one of the Animation Wildcards with my graduation film, Here.
Aside from this, I continue to collaborate with other artists, give talks about my work, and will be teaching Narrative Design at the WdKA soon.

Here, a Visual Poem, trailer.

What did you gain from your study?

It’s hard not to lose track of the many things I have gained from my study. Aside from skill, knowledge, and a circle of close friends, I have also gained a far better understanding of how I, as a maker, want to position myself in the world. When every year you are asked to reflect on what kind of creator you are, and what kind of creator you want to be, you force yourself to critically think about the choices you make. Whereas I walked into the academy knowing I wanted to tell stories, I left knowing exactly what kind of stories I wanted to tell. My world became a little bit bigger than just animation, or just film; it became far richer than I ever could have anticipated.

I left the academy knowing exactly what kind of stories I wanted to tell.

Here, a Visual Poem, production still.

Favourite WdKA memory?

My four years at the academy have been filled with great, stressful, beautiful, and challenging moments. It is hard picking just one single moment, but what stands out to me most are the moments right after we’d present the final animations we had spent months working on each quarter. Most of us would be exhausted after yet another all-nighter, and would quickly go over their speeches in their heads, but every single time after the final presentation, those feelings would completely wash away and we would we quietly give ourselves a pat on the back for the fact that we pulled it off once again.

Houses - Designs, study for It's Nice in Here, 2017

What is the future of your profession in your opinion?

I have always seen animation as a beautiful and powerful medium where everything comes together, where you have to be concerned with how things will look, but also how they will sound, move, and feel. Animation is a powerful medium in the sense that as long as you can draw, model, or photograph something, it allows you to tell whatever story you want. To me, it becomes really exciting when we start pushing the boundaries and don’t stop at wondering what animation is, but continue to question what it could be. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more stories by filmmakers who use animation as a tool to dig deep within themselves, be vulnerable, and tell personal stories only they can tell.

You never leave the house without...

A notebook, a novel, and my imagination. I can walk through the streets for hours, picking up tiny bits and pieces of conversations, and imagining entire stories of people around me. A single city and the people in it is an endless source of inspiration, so it is good to always be prepared if you stumble upon another great idea. The novels, which keep changing depending on my mood or current field of interest, often are left unfinished. But if the city becomes too much for me, it is a comforting thought that I can retreat somewhere quiet and lose myself in the story that I’m carrying around in my bag.

Your favourite recent project?

I recently finished working on an animated campaign for Amnesty International with the IOO Collective. Right after graduating, I was afraid of falling into the much-dreaded black hole that a lot of my classmates talked about like they were spreading a ghost story. But this campaign for Amnesty really came at the right time for me and pulled me out of the uncertainty of post-graduation. It is always such a pleasure working with Cesare Davolio (WdKA Animation and Illustration tutor) but also working on something that further benefits a certain cause is extremely rewarding. Rather than simply making a cool and flashy animation - which can also be nice from time to time - the importance for these stories to be told makes you want to push yourself that much harder.

Saudi human rights defenders fight for the right of everyone in Saudi Arabia - no matter who they are - to a fair trial. Share this video to support Saudi activists fighting for human rights.

Future plans and hopes.

I am slowly getting used to the fact that what once started off as an idea that came to me during my study at the WdKA is now becoming a reality.  Every now and then, it still feels slightly surreal, knowing that there is an actual budget and an actual producer and that I have the Film Fund backing me. I really hope that It’s Nice in Here turns out as I have it in my head. And we’ll see where we’ll go from there.

"It's Nice in Here" is an attempt to paint a fragmented portrait of a boy where important pieces are missing and we're deliberately not seeing the full picture; just like the cases of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland and countless other people still remain a mystery. (2017)

Any words of advice for future students?

Going to an art academy can be terrifying and incredibly rewarding at the same time. I remember stepping into the WdKA for the first time, slightly nervous and wide-eyed, not quite knowing what to expect.

The months to follow I would repeatedly find myself in situations that would slowly pull me out of my comfort zone bit by bit. This might have been somewhat of a dreadful experience, but by challenging yourself, experimenting, and by growing more introspective and critical, you start realising that as an art student you have absolutely nothing to lose. This realisation really changed a lot for me, and I saw my work becoming bolder, as my mind grew more eager and curious. So, keep reminding yourself that ultimately you are here for yourself and that the time to explore and try new things out is now. Do everything in your power to carve your own path and become the creator you feel like you need to become.

Jungle, a still from Here, a Visual Poem.

Jury Drempelprijs 2018, Autonomous Practices: "In his experimental poem ‘I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here’ Robert-Jonathan Koeyers invites the viewer to embody the black body. The work can be positioned in different localities, and in the Dutch context, it would both be thought-provoking and inspiring. The work connects the personal to the political and Robert-Jonathan showed his vulnerability in the process of creating this work. Robert-Jonathan did extensive research, talked to activists and other people and the result is a consistent, poetic, visuals and sonic experience. There is a lot of potential for Robert-Jonathan when he continues connecting his work to the discourse of diversity and decolonization. We are excited to see you building a network and claiming your space as an animator and artist. We encourage you to bring this installation in new contexts out of the art school and to experiment with the curatorial aspects of your installation."

Besides Drempelprijs, Jonathan has won the Second WdKA Research Award 2018.

Corresponding Racial Identity

Friday, March 29,

Join Maud Bergen and Robert-Jonathan Koeyers as they read aloud their correspondence, unpacking how their identities have played a pivotal part in their work, and how they navigate through the world as artists.

This event is presented as part of Studium Witte de With’s Parallel Curriculum student-led program. For workshop Corresponding Racial Identity, Parallel Curriculum participant Maud Berden (current student PZI) started a collaboration with multidisciplinary artist and storyteller Robert-Jonathan Koeyers.