Wrake, John ("Run") 1965 - 2012


John “Run” Wrake (1963-2012) was a British animator who made short independent animation films as well as animation films for music videos and advertising from the early 1990s to 2012.

Wrake was born in Yemen, where his father was chaplain in the British Army, and was raised in Sussex. He started making animation whilst studying BA Graphic Design at Chelsea College of Art from 1985-1988 and went on to study an MA in Animation at the Royal College of Art from 1988-1990. Wrake’s graduation film "Anyway" (1990) won Best Animation at the BP Expo International Student Film Festival in London. His influences included early hand-drawn animation, Dada, Pop Art and punk graphics.

Wrake was also both influenced by and worked with music throughout his career, creating a number of music videos and album artworks. "Anyway" went on to be shown as part of MTV’s animation showcase "Liquid Television" and impressed Art of Noise’s manager who asked Wrake to make his first music video for the Gang of Four’s song "Cadillac". MTV also commissioned Wrake to make idents for their channel such as his "M is also for" ident. He had significant relationships with artists like Howie B and U2, working in close collaboration with Howie B and travelling on U2’s tours creating work that responded to current affairs and new locations.

Howie B also created music for Wrake’s work such as his independent film "Rabbit" (2005) which received a BAFTA nomination and won many international awards including two British Animation Awards, the McLaren Award for Animation, a Special Distinction at Annecy, and a Tiger Award for Short Film at Rotterdam International Festival.

Although much of Wrake’s work was in response to music, "Rabbit" marked a change to working within a narrative structure. In "Rabbit" Wrake creates a dark morality tale inspired by 1950s spelling cards. "The Control Master" (2008) also follows a narrative and was developed using found material, commissioned by Veer, a commercial images agency, to make a film using their archive. "The Control Master" was shown on BBC’s Culture Show and toured by onedotzero and Future Shorts. Wrake’s other independent films are "Jukebox" (1994) and his final film "Down with the Dawn" (2012). In "Jukebox" Wrake creates his character “Meat head” who features in later films such as "Public Meat" (2012) and "Meat Street" which Wrake was developing ideas for when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Wrake also worked on various advertising campaigns and commercials for companies such as Coca-Cola, NatWest and Halifax.

John “Run” Wrake was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2011 and died on 21st October 2012.