Mike and Katie make up the character design duo that we know as TADO. Currently based in Sheffield, the pair met whilst at university in Leeds and haven’t looked back since.
We began to teach ourselves Flash and found that our two styles very quickly began to merge together and that we both shared the love of bringing our characters to life through movement as well as each of us sharing the unhealthy habits of lurking in comic shops and collecting all manner of junk.
After doing a couple of jobs when they were still studying, Mike and Katie decided to take the leap, move to Sheffield and set up their own studio above the Site Gallery once they graduated in 2002.
Since then not a great deal has changed! We still work in a tiny studio, still draw characters and still make ourselves laugh every day.
Over a decade of working together later, their very first collaborative project, a 3-minute flash animation, still holds onto the top spot for them with the story of willow pattern china plates.
The fledgling development of our style along with the excitement of learning animation and bringing characters to life for the first time is pretty much the recipe at the heart of everything that we do and have ever done together.
With Japanese themes running throughout TADO’s work the visual culture that is so present in Asia has a major influence the pair.
As character designers it’s such an exciting place to visit – we love the way that even the most mundane of the everyday can be brought to life and represented in character form. Pretty much everything and anything has a mascot and they are an ingrained part of everyday society.
Working across a wide range of design from prints, to toys and t-shirts is there are still areas that Mike and Katie would like to explore more of in the future.
We’d love to explore more ways of creating physical animation. We finally got the chance to make a stop-motion project last year, which was a long-term goal of ours and something we really enjoyed. We’d love to make something like a zoetrope, or explore more traditional means of bring characters to life like puppets.
Apart from making our world a much more colourful place, what’s next for TADO?
In the coming months we’re looking forward to starting work on a really big installation piece for The Sheffield Childrens Hospital. We’re really excited as it’s giving us the opportunity to create something really special that will combine the physical 3D wood work that we do with animation in its most physical sense. We’re looking forward to a steep learning curve though with lots of things like automata mechanisms and maybe some programming to get our heads round. Eek!