10 Questions with Ethan Osman


Above: ETHAN OSMAN, Clip from  Boxwood Strata-cut, 2022. Edition of 1 NFT. Hand painted digital animation with boxwood branch, ink, sound from a shruti box. 1920 x 1080, 0:28 video.

10 Questions with... Ethan Osman.

1. If you could be any animal, what would you be?
I was asked this question as an onboarding ice breaker for a new job. I had to go 1st, messed up and said, “a 17 yr cicada, because I’m totally fine being alone and underground for 17 yrs just to come out for a few months to leave a little sculpture of myself on a tree and make a lot of noise with other bugs.” Everyone else after me chose animals that illustrated there ability to do the job (hawk, mama bear, shark). I suppose my answer is appropriate as an experimental animator who does everything by hand. This job was not that.

2. What is your most irrational fear?
My most irrational fear is having a seizure in a China shop. I’ve never had a seizure and don’t spend much time in China shops.

3. What would be the title of your memoir?
My memoir would be called “Going Through the Motions.” Other than making process-oriented art that explores motion, it also expresses my experience of living with ADD. I struggle with going through the motions and doing things carelessly with things that aren’t (but often should be) important to me. Whereas, I do the opposite and can get lost in the moment when doing things that are important to me.

4. What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is being known as someone who is impossible to feel embarrassed around. I have been told.

5. What is the weirdest hobby you’ve tried?
Once I had some dowsing rods and would go to forests to look for water. It’s a weird hobby since I always had water with me and had no use for water.

6. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Baby Dee, for dragging her harp out of her Prius wearing slippers, to make a bar full of hipsters cry.

7. What is your quirkiest hidden talent?
I can do acceptable vocal impressions of most Muppets, Aaron Neville and Richard Dreyfuss

8. Do you believe in the power of manifestation?
I’m learning to ask for help and what I need. It’s going well. If keeping things internal, doing nothing, and just hoping for good things, is the power of manifestation, then ‘no.’ There’s definitely moments where the sense of self goes away and internal happenings and external happenings are the same, but that’s something else.

9. What do you like to listen to while working in your studio?
Usually silence, especially during the ‘ideas’ phase. Then for the follow through, records are nice because they are constantly suggesting silence (after each side). It’s a good sign when you realize the record ended a long time ago and you’ve been flowing.

10. What is your favorite movie?
My favorite movie is Fata Morgana. It was the 1st movie that felt like listening to an album. It didn’t require following a plot, and I wanted to put it on the next night. It also was neither a documentary or narrative- something in between and better.


Above: ETHAN OSMAN, Clip from Boxwood Colors, 2022. Edition of 1 NFT. Hand painted digital animation with gouache, sound from a shruti box, 1080 x 1920. 0:57 video

"I make handmade animated films and studies. By intuitively following each film's process without preliminary sketches or editing out mistakes, the films serve as a document of their own process. Ideas, mood, and focus shift each time I enter the studio. These subtleties are evident when each image is sequenced at 12 frames per second, and months of work can be condensed into moments. Similar to AI generated art, my work starts with following a process (algorithm) that often uses prompts, but the work holds all its meaning in being made by hand with life wrapped up in its process.

This body of work grew out of a time when many of us became more intimate with our domestic environments. I became more aware of the houseplants and scrubs that surrounded me, their forms and the shadows that moved throughout the day.In animation, there is a technique called rotoscoping, where animators trace live action footage. Since my interest in animation focuses on discovering new movements, I never explored this technique. But, by manipulating the plants and a light source, I created movement by rotoscoping their shadows. In "Bloodleaf," "Boxwood Colors," "Crown of Thorns," "Forsythia," and "Spider Plant," the dynamic shadows preserve the plants at that moment in time, but also distort a sense of time and space.For "Boxwood Strata-cut," I explored the form and movement of a boxwood branch. Each line drawn around the branch was then plotted on a piece of paper to imagine it as a two dimensional plane. Overtones from a shruti box were layered to illustrate the branching patterns. Similar overtones were also used in "Boxwood Colors," to illustrate the layering of shadows." -- Ethan Osman

Above: ETHAN OSMAN, Clip from Spider Plant, 2023. Edition of 1 NFT. Hand painted digital animation with walnut ink. 1920 x 1080, 0:28 video.


Since graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2006 with a BFA in Animation, I have continued a studio practice of making handmade, processbased animated films. In its approach, the work is largely informed by parenting a neurodivergent child, my experience managing StudioWorks, an art studio that supports neurodivergent adult artists and my own experience living with learning disabilities. The work does not aim toward a certain vision or narrative where success is contingent upon, its success is based on discovery and following a process. The practice puts more emphasis on intuition and being human, than technical craft, and allows meaning and narrative to come from that freedom of making.

In recent years, I have developed collaborative relationships, shown work in film festivals, galleries and created commissioned work. Recent collaborators include musician/artist Carrie Neumayer, Louisville Ballet dancer AshleyThursby and musician/songwriter Will Oldham. The work has recently been shown at the Opine Dance Film Festival, Below The Line Short Films, Louisville Film Society Short Film Slam and as an installation in a group show at Plug Gallery called, “Can I Take A Message?” This year, a music video was made for the song “Bananas” to promote an upcoming album by Bonnie Prince Billy.