Set up by Óscar Raña and Cynthia Alfonso, Rapapawn is an animation studio based in Vigo, Spain and has a flair for the psychedelic. “We met at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Barcelona six years ago. At first we worked on joint publications in the field of graphics, then we both studied a Masters in Animation,” says the duo. “Aware of our affinities, we had the curiosity to see our graphic work in motion, so we decided to create Rapapawn three years ago.”
The name Rapapawn is a sort of nonsense word the pair adopted. “It is a catchphrase used in our group of friends, you could say that it is a bit similar to the ‘yada yada’ used in Seinfeld,” they say. Their closeness extends beyond funny words though, and Raña and Alfonso say that because they share the same societal concerns and approach life in a similar way, it allows them to work on the same wavelength and create exciting things together. “We also share common references and objectives, this is an important point since when defining ideas, listening and speaking, we understand each other well,” says the team.
Working on commissions for the New York Times, WeTransfer, and lots of bands and artists, Alfonso and Raña work together during every step of the whole process.
“When a commission comes to us, we usually have several meetings, we share ideas and complement them, we believe that it is the best way to do something more powerful, two heads are better than one,” says the team. “Once everything is defined, we generate sketches and a storyboard, then we distribute the scenes and clips.”
Rapapawn’s style combines textured bright colours with frenetic cuts, abstract forms and surrealist imagery to create animations and loops that feel groovy and satisfyingly hypnotic. “By having trained in fine arts, our main influence is contemporary art, we take this to all areas of our work, and in the end all the disciplines in which we work influence each other,” they explain.
Raña and Alfonso both have separate illustration practices away from Rapapawn, with Raña currently working on a new comic and Alfonso working on a group exhibition in Spain. They see the studio as a space for experimentation, and use it to bring their geometric work to life in new ways using animation as a tool like any other.
“Working in frame-by-frame animation allows us greater ease when it comes to giving continuity to stories in comic format, and incorporating scenes with greater cadence and movement in them that would otherwise be unthinkable and vice versa,” says Rapapawn. “Everything is connected and helps us grow.”
Most recently Rapapawn has been working on a series of loops and video clips for a project in the near future. They’ve enjoyed the challenge of tackling the quirks of frame-by-frame animation, though this is sometimes made more tricky with tight deadlines.
“There are usually very short deadlines for the type of animation we do, so we have to think of formulas and clips that can be interesting,” they say. “It is a challenge that in the end helps us to be more concise and sometimes, more effective.”