Hardcore fan of the NBC sitcom Community? Then you might have heard of Julieta Colás, aka @jujujulieta. Her fan art really caught the attention of viewers - and the cast - of the series when her set of Community-themed Valentines exploded on Tumblr in February, and there's a lot more where that came from - from hand-drawn Joel McHale tributes to pocket protectors. This summer, she was among the artists featured at the Six Seasons and a Movie art show in LA:
But most recently, it's her animation getting all the attention, when Missed Call, the Classical Animation grad's final film, went supernova on Vimeo. (And once again, we need to point out that there's very brief full-frontal nudity in the film.)
Julieta Colás has a lot going on, is what we're saying. And we wanted to find out more.
Let's talk about your backstory a little bit. In the most general sense, what drew you to art? There are easier ways to make a living...
Julieta: Haha, "drew... art..." I see what you did there. But to answer your question, I'm not exactly sure. I hate being the person who says, "Oh, I've been drawing since I can remember," but that's the truth. When I was little, the things that always seemed easiest were drawing, and watching cartoons. I guess it also helped that my grandma was an artist, and she had a big house, so the idea of making a living as one never seemed like something that was forbidden.
I think I never saw it as, "Oh, but what about the money?" and the idea of unemployment never crossed my mind - I'm just realizing how naive and arrogant that mentality is. It's just that the sole thought of having to do something I don't like that no one will care about depresses me, and I don't like being depressed. So maybe it's selfishness and stubbornness that's making me stick with this. I think some people refer to it as "passion".
You're a prolific illustrator now. Do you have any formal illustration training?
Julieta: I took some Saturday morning classes when I was 13 to 16, but honestly, I went there mostly to get together with a bunch of other kids my age to doodle, and talk about anime and manga. That and what I learned at VFS is all the training I ever got.
Why pursue animation, and classical animation in particular?
Julieta: I originally wanted to be a comic artist, but I assumed that if I went into animation I'd be able to learn how to draw very fast. It may sound like a dumb reason, but I'm from an industrial town, and no one ever explained me why things don't necessarily work that way. Regardless of that, I always loved cartoons. I wasn't what you would call "a popular kid" in school ("complete outcast" is a more accurate description), so my friends were the characters I watched every afternoon on TV (and my teachers...). I grew up watching almost exclusively animated shows, and I think helping make some new ones is probably the only thing I could have fun doing.
As for why I chose classical animation, I just like the way it looks a lot better than CGI.
Missed Call. Huge hit. Did you see that coming? What do you think got this thing into six-digit views?
Julieta: My original intention was to have it be viral, but given how I've never been popular at anything, and how much I hate the animation on scene 3, I didn't think it'd get more than 2,000 hits in the amount of time it's been up. It has been a pleasant surprise to see that I'm not completely incompetent.
I think what's made it make the internet rounds is that I addressed a public that's often ignored: The one that appreciates male nudity. My film is a celebration of people who unabashedly say, "I think guys are nice to look at," and they want to share it with their friends who think alike. I have seen a lot of comments that say things like "OMG I AM THE OLD LADY," and "If you pause at the right moment, you can see his penis."
How did you find the process of creating the film? It's a simple premise, but we all know those can be among the most difficult things to concept and develop. Yet your end product feels effortless. Was it smooth sailing?
Julieta: I knew the following things:
- We wouldn't have much time to work on our films, so the shorter it was, the better
- People nowadays have a very short attention span, so the shorter my film was, the better
- I'm gonna be drawing the same thing over, and over again for the next few months, I should make it something I enjoy drawing
So I knew the film had to be short. I knew I had to gut it, get rid of as much as I could, focus on telling the story, and get to the punchline as quickly as possible. The story part was easy enough, even when a teacher who saw the punchline coming from a mile away suggested I change the intention of the character - and, well, the entire film, basically - and had to redo my storyboard and animatic in like three days ("because Thursday nights I watch Community" ... yes, I told my teachers that).
The hard part was getting it done, especially towards the end, when all deadlines were approaching, I was dealing with bedbugs, and had to also get my pieces and prints ready for the #SixSeasonsAndAMovie art show, not to forget the part where I flew down to LA three days before our scanner cut-off. In the end it was all worth it, because I got to have my art featured in my first art show, got to meet my hero, had fun, and finished my film on time. I'm glad it seems effortless, and that you can't tell I was having weekly breakdowns over how I had no idea of what I was doing.
Your interview with The Snipe gave us a pretty good overview of your Community fandom. But a, um, fair amount has happened in the world of Community since then. Despite the upheaval, the delays, everything else, how are you feeling about the show going into season 4?
Julieta: I visited the set about a month ago, and got to meet the writing staff, the new showrunners, the cast, the people on props, production, catering... Everyone is really nice, and they all work really hard to make this the best, weirdest, most original show on TV. If anyone says anything bad about it, I will punch them in the face.
What I saw that's been shot is both hilarious and heartwarming. The show is in good hands, and it's being handled with love. You can tell everyone involved is there because they love what they are doing, and for whom they are doing it. I am very confident that season 4 will be great, and that I will be skipping on sleep to make much more fan art.
How was the experience taking part in the art show? You've gotten more face time with the cast than your average fan could probably ever dream of...
Julieta: Yes, and I still can't believe all of that happened. I'm just glad there's witnesses and evidence that I was actually there.
The art show was a thing of beauty. I've shown the documentary to a couple of people, and every time I see it I cry a little bit - I cry easily - because I remember how fantastic everything was. It was an amazing experience, and I am forever grateful to the PixelDrip staff for inadvertently making my dreams come true, and allowing me to be in my first art show.
Finally, what's on the horizon for Julieta Colás?
Julieta: Vanishing points.