Flipbook artist illustrates what it means to ‘flatten the curve’

Amy Pirkle

A Mercer University alumna is showing us with flipbooks what flattening the curve and social distancing look like. 

Amy Pirkle, who graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio art, is a flipbook artist. In March, she posted on YouTube a video about how to flatten the curve featuring her Little Ghost character.  

In the video, Little Ghost, shaped like a curve, goes out without any precautions. Then, he stays home in self-isolation, and his curve flattens. 

At the time Pirkle made the video, the phrase “flatten the curve” was just becoming a household term. 

“I kept seeing the graph (for flattening the curve) and thought it looked so much like my Little Ghost character … so the idea of the ghost going out in public versus laying down on a couch at home seemed like an obvious animation to make,” Pirkle said. “And I felt it might bring a little understanding to the graph.” 

She said one of her goals when making a flipbook is to “make someone smile or bring a little happiness into their day. … 

“I had the same goal for this particular flipbook, but I also do hope that people will take the message seriously and do their part to keep others in the community safe and healthy.” 

A few days after posting her “flattening the curve” video, she posted another video showing how many of her flipbooks, played in reverse, seemed to illustrate social distancing. 

Inspiration for a flipbook can strike at any time but also comes from hard work. 

“I feel like I’m carrying around 10 ideas for flipbooks in my head at any given time,” Pirkle said. “I do keep journals of ideas, sketches and even lists of puns that might make their way into a flipbook, but sometimes an idea seems to come out of nowhere while I’m driving or falling asleep. … 

Amy Pirkle

“However, I believe that as an artist it’s important to work in your studio regularly (every day for me), and good ideas will come, instead of waiting for inspiration to strike you like lightning.” 

Pirkle is the artist behind Percolator Press Flipbooks. She makes her flipbooks, and other books, by hand and has received commissions from NBCUniversal, the SyFy network, Best Western, Callaway Golf, the American Red Cross, Fairlife Milk, Ergomotion and others. She is an instructor for Blueprint, where she teaches Flip Out! online flipbook classes. She also teaches book arts, design and interdisciplinary studies at the University of Alabama, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. 

Pirkle said she has two primary goals for her work. 

“The first is creating a narrative for the viewer, and the second is connecting with my audience in a sincere way,” she said. “With flipbooks, I found the medium that perfectly married my two goals of creating narrative and connecting with an audience.” 


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