Can you tell a story in five seconds?

I don’t think I can tell my story in five seconds, but, Robert Clear can. I recently discovered Robert’s stories and pictures. I wanted to show it on Cool Stuff. I think what Robert is doing is amazing and some of his stories are funny.  Sometimes, to tell a story, one only needs a few words. I asked Robert how does he do it, and why?


MIddle Class Aspiration by Robert Clear

“My name’s Robert Clear and I’m an artist and writer from London. In my work I combine words and images to tell stories, but I impose a special constraint on myself: I aim to tell each story in no more than five seconds. That’s one twelfth of a minute to conjure in the viewer’s mind a world, its characters and a sense of what’s at stake for them. That means a tight economy of words and line and form, a careful balancing of text and image and a sense of rhythm that uses words and pictures as semantic cues and as pure pattern.

Hyena by Robert Clear

Why five seconds? We live in an age where the rest of the world is always at hand, available through the glass screens that connect us to the internet. We have the means to obtain instant gratification, to be entertained always. In this age an artist or writer can expect no more than five seconds of a stranger’s time. Advertisers know this. They craft hooks to sell products that use those precious seconds to leave the viewer wanting more. I decided to use that fragment of time to construe the entire experience; to create something that can be viewed, inwardly digested and (hopefully) enjoyed in five ticks of a clock.

Robert Clear on George

The inspiration for much of my work is London. Perhaps surprisingly, given that it’s a sprawling mass of eight and a half million people, it’s the city’s animals that frequently become my subjects. ‘London Beasts’ is one of my recent series, and animals are the main characters. Each has a particular association with London, whether it be an area, a park or a specific building, and for each I created a story that evoked this connection.

One of the most interesting things about taking my work online has been the chance to interact with others who are interested in art and storytelling. If anyone wants to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you”.

Robert Clear blogs on WordPress. You can click on his name in the first paragraph to reach his blog or click this link:

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