Julia Pott hasn’t been out of school long (in fact, she just completed graduate school) but in a handful of years she’s acquired a devoted following for the distinctive anthropomorphic illustrations and animations she’s created for everyone from The Decemberists and J. Crew to Toyota and Malibu Rum. As she puts it, “I employ awkward animated characters to act out my own personal struggles.” Her latest short film, “Belly,” which she completed while getting her M.A. at London’s Royal College of Art, began screening this summer at various locations and festivals in the U.K.

Pott has just joined Hornet‘s talented roster of animators and directors. We caught up with her as she was preparing to move from London to New York.

Q: When did you first make the leap from illustration to animated films and what compelled you to move in that direction?
I had always had a keen interest in animation, but didn’t know the first thing about how to get started. I would draw sequentially, essentially storyboarding rather than illustrating. I decided to do a BA in illustration and animation in 2004 so that I could merge the two disciplines, and ended up spending most of the three years hidden away in the animation department, getting to grips with the techniques.

Q: How have your short films evolved from the work you did several years ago for The Decemberists and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, now that you’ve just completed your MA in Animation?
The main reason I was longing to go back and do an MA was to get to grips with my storytelling skills. Since graduating in 2007 I had been fortunate enough to work on some very interesting projects with a lot of creative freedom but never had a big chunk of time carved out to just sit down and make something entirely my own. Taking two years out meant that I had time to take risks, make mistakes, and develop as a filmmaker. Prior to the Royal College I had never written a script before, and had only made one short film, so it helped me come to terms with some cold hard truths about my shortcomings as a filmmaker. Focusing on my story telling skills and character development was hugely satisfying and I feel my MA allowed me to develop further in the direction I would love to take my work.

“Belly” trailer

Q: Do you have a favorite piece of software or analog tool that you use on just about every single thing you create?
I animate entirely in pencil but when it comes to the colouring and compositing, After Effects and Photoshop are two programs I could not live without.

Q: What recent project — animation or live action, short- or long-form — most impressed you and why?
There are so many incredible films coming out of the Royal College at the moment. Last year’s “The Eagleman Stag” by Mikey Please continues to blow me away every time I see it. “A Family Portrait” by Joseph Pierce is pretty mind blowing. Anything by “The Daniel’s” blows me away, and their recent music video for Battles is a particular winner. I recently caught the film Tomboy in the cinema, and was a really beautifully shot, intriguing film.

Q: Who is in heavy rotation on your iPod?
At the moment Of Montreal, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Pulp and Metronomy are serenading me. And the occasional ridiculous ’90s hip-hop song.