Don't Panic Exclusive: The Pablo Escobar Story by William Child


Written by James Ratcliffe
12 Thursday 12th December 2013

We had a chatted to William this week, discussing his relationship with 2D/3D, influence by hip-hop, background in design, and what the futute holds for the up and coming artist. 

Your approach to art takes many forms from logo design to illustration. What made you take the path of creating paper mache models that come alive through moving image?

I enjoy doing all forms of art and design really, and really like working on branding and digital graphic design projects, but have always particularly loved making stuff with my hands whether that be 3D or a regular hand-drawn illustration. I wanted to make my own weird models for ages but college and university projects didn't really provide an appropriate opportunity until 2nd year, when we went to Barcelona on a field trip. We were allowed to the respond to the trip in any way we wanted, so I chose to make 'The Peoplewatcher's Guide to Barcelona', a kind of parody birdwatching book showing a few of the odd characters you see in Barcelona, in both its touristy and darker sides. I thought the exaggerated, absurdly proportioned and borderline creepy models would be a good way of depicting the bizarre spectrum of people you see in Barcelona. I wanted to make a David Attenborough-style animated mini documentary using those characters (with Attenborough-esque narration) but unfortunately time didn't permit with that project! So the next most open brief with sufficient time ended up being the final major project, for which I chose Pablo Escobar as the subject, so I thought I'd go for it and make a fully illustrated book and play with puppet-based animation for the first time as well! His story gave me a lot to play with, so there was plenty of area to cover for both a book and short film. 

The majority of your videos are a hip-hop related, is hip-hop a big inspiration for you?

Yeah I'm a big fan of hip-hop and it definitely informs my work a lot. A lot of the subject areas I like to learn about are covered in the music I listen to — I first heard about Pablo Escobar from songs by the likes of Nas and Game a few years ago. I even managed to work it so I could write my university dissertation about hip-hop's influence on the creative industries! In terms of my music videos, I reckon my style possibly best reflects hip-hop's stories and themes, maybe better so than other other genres, that's why the work that has come my way has predominantly come from hip-hop artists - though it is adaptable and I'd like to work in other genres too! At the moment I'm listening to lots of Pusha T, Roc Marciano, Freddie Gibbs, all the TDE camp, Action Bronson, Boldy James, Chance the Rapper, Danny Brown, Cam'ron, Meyhem Lauren, A$AP Mob and Pro Era, but my all time favourite is definitely Big L.

What's background in art and design? — How did uni help your development as an artist?

Well I always did arty stuff as a kid because my mum and sister are artistic too, so this naturally followed into secondary school GCSEs, then I left school to go to Leeds College of Art & Design to do a National Diploma. It was that point really where I was 100% certain I wanted a career in the creative industries, because it meant sacking off 6th Form and other subjects (though I did do a night class for an English A Level) to focus completely on art. College was the first opportunity to experiment with loads of different mediums and find what creative element you were really passionate about, so that was a really important learning curve and I'd recommend it if you're certain you want to work in the creative industries. From there I chose to go to uni up at Northumbria in Newcastle, which was a quality city to have fun and study in. The mediums and equipment available to work with at Northumbria were second to none, so it kind of gave a prolonged and more advanced experimenting period following on from college, as well as a chance to build a portfolio and learn in detail the more technical aspects of graphic design and the business surrounding it. Personally, uni definitely helped me with my artistic development as the staff and equipment opened things up to me that I had never done before, and I learnt a lot of stuff, though there are certainly people that could just as easily not go, and possibly benefit from not going to uni and still be mega successful - loads of the top creatives today don't have much or any formal training. With creativity not being as academic as other subjects, as much as anything it's about the drive to do well.


Do you prefer working in 2d or 3d?

I don't massively have a preference as I enjoy both, it depends what is most appropriate for the subject, but at the moment I do really like working in 3D, and I'm developing other mediums to work in. I particularly love building the sets and squeezing in little bits of detail into the 3D work, plus I'm keen to do a lot more animation and film.

Your final project El Patron: The Pablo Escobar Story - is a great exploration into one of the biggest drug lords in history, what inspired this project?

Thank you! To be honest my inspiration just came from the desire to make something a bit over the top with loads of explosions, guns and drugs in it, because I've always loved action and crime films, documentaries and books. I find it fascinating how some people can be so ridiculously successful (till they get killed), and run such a textbook business whilst operating on the other side of the law. So I researched a load of drug barons and ended up settling on Pablo Escobar because his life was the craziest, and I thought the bizarre paper mache puppets and lo-fi animation style would portray the ridiculousness of his story pretty well. I found out loads of mad stuff I didn't know about him before! My favourite was probably about his parrot; he had a zoo on his estate with all kinds of different exotic animals, including his favourite parrot, which he used to give whiskey to drink. So one night his parrot got hammered and fell asleep on a table, and was eaten by a house cat, so in a rage Escobar preceded to execute every feline on the estate, including the lions and tigers. I reckon he was a tad irrational, but I guess you can expect that from a bloke who burned $2million cash just to keep himself warm in the woods one night whilst on the run. 


What's the next step for William Child?

I'm looking to self-publish a couple of books I've made, including a modernised adult version of The Wind in the Willows, as well as the Escobar and Barcelona books; I'm hopefully gonna put the Escobar book and a DVD of the animation all together in a package and make it available for sale. Apart from that I'm just available for freelance work, and there's a short film in the pipeline as well as a few other projects. And I'm looking to work with musicians sometime in the future on an animated project, so MCs, singers and producers give me a shout! But new stuff comes and goes often so just keep an eye on the website and twitter!

More of William's videos:

To check out more of William's work head to

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