Animals, Anxiety and Art: How Flora Caulton Uses Her Work to Express Herself

Flora Caulton is an animator and illustrator whose work focuses on nature and animals, and the humour and psychology that unites human beings and other creatures. In this interview, she talks to Label about her use of art as a way to cope with anxiety as well as express it, and discusses the stigma around artistic careers such as hers.

How did you get interested in art to begin with, and how has your interest in art developed throughout your life?

I’ve never really been without a pencil, but my interest in art - particularly illustration and the act of drawing - really began to develop when I was about 10 and I would try to visualise all the strange and silly stories in my head. It's now my job, but drawing for me has always been a great way of going inside your head and at the same time leaving all your day-to-day thoughts behind; in times of anxiety it’s a calming, practical process that directs my mind away from overthinking.

'Pond' - Flora Caulton (2017)

'Pond' - Flora Caulton (2017)

What does your work express about you?

I’ve always been hugely inspired by animals and nature and try to celebrate them in my work whenever I can. I have so much respect for other animals and find so much humour in them, and it reminds me that we’re all kind of ridiculous (humans included).

I try to convey this humour as best I can in my work - I recently did a short animation on social anxiety, using an armadillo as the protagonist. The topic is something I’m very familiar with myself, so I wanted to use an armadillo (a nervous creature who tends to curl up into a ball) to keep the film light-hearted and indirect in many ways, but still allow a viewer to perhaps see something familiar in the character.

I think that’s why animals appeal to me so much as a subject; they can be used to touch on universal concepts but still remind us that really we’re all just silly creatures doing our best in life!

'Sandwich' - an animated short by Flora Caulton (2017)

'Sandwich' - an animated short by Flora Caulton (2017)

Have there been any challenges pursuing your artistic dream?

I feel like there’s always been a bit of a stigma around pursuing the field of art instead of taking a more academic route; I’ve especially noticed this coming from a school that was quite heavily academically-driven. I’ve always known I was going to study art in some form, and I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of support from my family and friends, but artistic degrees and careers are often seen as options that are chosen if you’re just unable to pursue anything ‘more useful’. Even if that is the case, why would it in any way be a less worthy path?

Sketch by Flora in Lyon, France

Sketch by Flora in Lyon, France

Where do you see your work in five years time?

I have a lot of personal projects bubbling away in the background at the moment and with any luck, in five years time, I would love to have some of them out there in the world! I’m sure I’ll be saying the same thing again in five years time…

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What advice can you give to aspiring artists?

This is pretty difficult to answer as I still feel I have so much to learn. Motivation is something I’ve always found quite difficult regarding work, especially when you no longer have the push of an education system to keep you going, so I’d say finding the perfect work space for yourself can make so much difference and is so worth putting time into setting up. It sounds really trivial, but I can genuinely say finding a bright, comfortable setup in view of a window with all my resources at arms reach has changed my attitude to work. It’s allowed me to have the motivation to get a routine going, ditch my excuses for not working, and actually get on and create stuff!

'Sandwich' is currently nominated for the KinoFest 2017 Competition - to vote for Flora's animated short, Like it on YouTube HERE.

Flora's work can be found at: