Hip-Hop

In Demand: How Will Child Became Hip-Hop’s Go-To Claymation Creator

William Child
Courtesy Photo

William Child

When Will Child got in trouble at school as a kid in Leeds, England, his art usually got him out of it. “I used to love doing caricatures,” he says on the phone from Bristol, where he’s lived since February after spending three years in London. “I used it as a tool to get around teachers ’cause they weren’t always that fond of me. When I had a run-in with one, I’d give them a drawing of themself.”

Little did he know that one day his art hobby, and escape tactic, would become his full-time job. Now, the 29-year-old designer is one of the go-to artists for claymation music videos, particularly among hip-hop artists.

He first caught the attention of the music community with his final school project as a graphic design major at NorthUmbria University in Newcastle in 2012; he made a short film about Pablo Escobar’s cocaine operation, but using papier-mâché puppets. “That really whet my appetite,” Child says. “I love making things with my hands and generating this world at your fingertips.”

Local blogs picked up his tweet about the Escobar film, as did artists like Skepta’s brother Jme and the rap group Verbal Contact, for whom Child made his very first music video for the song “Stoned” that summer. Eight years later, Child has worked with everyone from Atlanta rapper Key! and New Jersey’s Da$h to Partynextdoor and Trippie Redd. He’s currently working on a video for Tory Lanez’s song “Pricey and Spicy” from The New Toronto 3, which uses action figures and stars Lanez as supervillain Argentina Fargo.

Even during a pandemic, Child remains busier than ever, recently launching his new animation studio, Gravy Mercedes, named for a Cam’ron bar from the Diplomats song “I Really Mean It,” and is toying with the idea of also having it be a record label. “I’m not sure how serious it is at the moment,” he says. “I’d like to figure out some kind of cooperative label situation where those guys come up with the music side of things, and I take control of the full visual side.”

Real or not, he does have a first release that he even helped produce: a reworked version of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” from Florida rapper Big Baby Scumbag. The song will be included on Big Baby’s June 12 mixtape, and Child describes the track as “trap with a tinge of country.” To support the song, Child is making a promo video and an animated lyric video. “It was my first dip into record producing in a very superficial way,” he says. “I’ll be P. Diddy by this time next year.”