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Graduate Cheyenne Goudswaard wins six thousand euros with film idea on skin picking

Cheyenne Goudswaard

Six thousand euros. That’s how much Cheyenne Goudswaard received as winner of the Keep an Eye Animation Talent Award, last Thursday. The jury chose Goudswaard, a recent graduate of Avans Master’s of Animation programme, for the top prize for her pitch on an animation film about skin picking. She was one of eight alumni who pitched their ideas to the jury in the Willem Twee hall.

“It feels overwhelming and surreal. For years I hid the fact that I picked my skin and now I win a prize for it! I feel quite emotional about it”, Cheyenne Goudswaard said after receiving a cheque for the prize money and a bouquet of flowers. “It shows that there’s a demand for the story that I want to tell.”

Hours and hours
Skin picking is a compulsive-obsessive condition in which a person picks at pimples, wounds, hair, bumps or nails on their own skin. “When I was in secondary school, I did it every evening, for hours and hours. I developed anxiety about exposing my skin. So I always wore long clothes to cover my body, even when it was 32 degrees outside. It meant I avoided parties, swimming and sex. I stayed inside and missed lots of opportunities. That was really hard, especially as a teenager,” the alumnus explained about her condition.

The Keep an Eye Animation Talent Award is a prize intended to encourage talented recent graduates of the one-year Master’s of Animation programme at the Master Institute of Visual Cultures – St. Joost School of Art & Design. The winner receives a cash prize they can use to take their own project to the next level. Last year the prize was awarded to Puck Pasen, who also attended this year’s edition to speak about her work.

Breaking the stigma
Goudswaard, who has now got her skin picking well under control, lacked information about the condition as a child. There were a few therapists who talked about it, but their explanations didn’t include personal narratives. That’s why the former student thought up an animation film about skin picking for her graduation production. “I don’t pretend to have a cure for the condition, but I want to open up the discussion and show that it exists. I want to break stigmas, that’s my goal.”

Every alumnus in Animation was given ten minutes to pitch an idea for a film from the stage. The students participating presented a wide variety of subjects. One pitched an animation film about irrational fears, another about being queer in a heteronormative environment, and a third about the experience of expats in the Netherlands.

Well thought through
The jury – made up of Maureen Prins, Mackenzie Finch and Robert-Jonathan Koeyers, who are all active in the field – unanimously agreed that Goudswaard deserved the prize. “Her project is well thought through, balanced and offers a fantastic way of opening up the discussion about skin picking. Her animation is a good way to combat the stigma associated with this topic”, the jury concluded. Members of the jury were in fact enthusiastic about all the projects and saw an overarching theme linking Generation Z, sexual identity, personal struggles and opening up discussions: “Subjects of the new generation.”

With her six thousand euros, Cheyenne wants to keep developing her “embarrassing, uncomfortable, raw – but also soft and recognisable” film. In addition, she has scheduled several months for interviewing people who suffer from skin picking in order to incorporate their experiences into the film. If you or anyone you know is interested, send a message via Instagram.

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