Summer is here, and while that’s usually the time the creative industry slows down and takes a breather, we here at ADC intend to keep things moving — literally. Introducing Motion & Animation Month, where we will be featuring the small but mighty section of our community that brings art to life on projects from the serene to the bombastic. Whether they’re professionals, students or just keen amateurs, they’re all card-carrying ADC Members.
Our next ADC Member to be featured is a motion artist in Miami Beach who lent his talents to the ADC Festival — trust us, he has plenty of talent to spare!
Where did your interest in motion and animation begin? How did it grow into something you could see yourself doing professionally?
Since I was child, I remember being in love with colors and images. One of my favorite games at 10 years old was to take a big Yellow Pages book and replicate the logos I saw in it. I spent hours looking at pictures in encyclopedias and thinking about how those places were. I was also a child raised by the TV. I spent hours and hours watching cartoons and movies with my brother, and then we would go outside and try to have an adventure just like those on TV, trying to make some kind of “audiovisual narrative” to our own adventures.
But to be honest, becoming a motion designer and animator was an accident, albeit a beautiful one. I was studying sociology when everything started for me; a friend that knew about my love for graphic design, photography and music let me know that there was an internship available on a cable TV station. I said, “but I’m not a designer. I’m studying to be a sociologist”, and she told me “I really think you need to try it”. I just visited that cable TV station’s office and saw how the things you can design can also move and share emotions or ideas with others in little time… well, it blew my mind! I finished my career in sociology and I never looked back.
How much of your ability is self-taught versus through schooling?
I am completely self taught, but that doesn’t mean that I learned everything by myself, I had teachers, mentors and friends that helped me with the process. In my early years, I spent hours completing research, observing the work of other designers and studios, and I remember being on the computer viewing their work, frame by frame. But as I said before, my formal education was as a sociologist.
To me, every project is a communication project, it is a question that needs to be answered but not all the time, sometimes I believe that we need to not get an answer at all, just a feeling, an emotion. I think that school is a good thing, I will never discourage somebody to study but at the same time we need to know that not all the answers lay on the school, that we need to go outside and look for it, and let ourselves get lost in that search, and brake some rules, not only school rules, but also our own personal rules.
How would you best describe your style? How did you foster that style?
I really can’t define myself through style. Style is something that I don’t worry about. To me, more important than having a style is to have something to say, and to feel honest about it. When you have something to say, and you deeply believe in it, and you work on it, you develop a sort of style without giving it too much thought. Of course, there is a sense of humor, a sense of rhythm and timing that I like. Maybe, at the end of the day, that is something that I could call a style, but I truly believe that your style is defined by what you honestly do and not by a design formula.
“To me, more important than having a style is to have something to say, and to feel honest about it.”
Tools of the trade: what items make your job a million times better? Types of pads, pens, tablets, programs etc.
Of course, having all the design tools working properly makes my job better and easier. But to me, there are other things that help me enhance my creative spirit. Music is one of them. I could not work calmly if I didn’t also have have a bright environment with natural light. I like to have a beautiful notebook full of empty white pages. Maybe, the most powerful tool to me is being surrounded by people that believe in me, and I believe in, people that I respect and together share a vision about the world.
Which project are you most proud of and why?
I’m really proud of two recent projects: MTV Millennial Awards and Like Batman’s Computer
In the case of Millennial Awards it was a project that let me think about motion more like a music composition, every piece was designed and animated as an standalone fragment (like the way every instrument works in an orchestra) and then we created all this weird and fun compositions under one simple concept: the magnetic power of youth. It was one of those projects that in some point make a personal statement: that animation or motion design is not only about saying something, but also about making you feel something. We were deeply involved in the audio realization even before the animation process started. More importantly, this was the project that let me make a link with one of my actual creative partners, so in some way, Millennial is the foundational project of BLACKANIMALS™
In the case of Like Batman’s Computer, we did it for a journalism foundation called Poderopedia.org. Their goal is to create a map of how relations between powerful people in politics and economy affect transparency and decision making in democratic societies. We were in charge of creating an easy way to explain this goal. To me, it was a perfect project in a time of creative doubt, that “low stage” in your career. It let me fell in love again with animation and also, it was a project that was part of something bigger than just doing “eye candy” for some cable TV station.
What’s the most challenging part of your career?
For me, the hardest thing to do is to make something meaningful, something that doesn’t lose its soul in the sometimes complicated creative process. To make something that brings emotion to somebody else, and at least a moment of joy; something that makes other people want to do this or encourages them to do something else. In the end, what I really care about is to direct something inspiring or at least something that I actually believe. That’s the hardest part of my job.
“… the hardest thing to do is to make something meaningful, something that doesn’t lose its soul in the sometimes complicated creative process.”
How would you describe what you do to someone who has nothing to do with creativity?
I do that thing at the beginning of the show that you always want to skip! (laughs) That line actually works!
Most of the time it’s not easy to explain because you’re not just a designer or a VFX artist or a film director: many times you’re all of that! Sometimes you’re part of something bigger. I like to refer to the initial credits in films, cartoons or to an advertisement as examples of what I do, and when somebody really wants to know how this works, I say: “I work with emotions on audiovisual formats”.
Where do you go to find inspiration and motivation?
Everywhere and nowhere. It really depends of the kind of project. When I was starting my career, I tried to consume everything I could, I tried to remember every work from every studio, every name, shortcut, technical word. Then at some point, I realized how useless all that was, and that it will only lead me to be a copycat, so I just stopped. I try to return to my really first interest: music, photography, and films. I try all the time to find inspiration from other fields, to discover new things, music bands, movies. To learn about the people behind those things is where I find motivation. Also, I think that you have to believe in yourself, and you need to spend time finding who you are. As the great designer James Victore says (he is actually somebody that I find amazingly inspiring): you really need to have an opinion.
When I was starting my career, I tried to consume everything I could, I tried to remember every work from every studio, every name, shortcut, technical word. Then at some point, I realized how useless all that was, and that it will only lead me to be a copycat, so I just stopped.
Which professionals in your field do you most admire? What is it about their work that moves you?
Is it always hard to answer this because there are so many talented people out there doing an amazing work that it’s of unfair to pick just a few. But if I had to, there’s Saul Bass and Pablo Ferro, two great designers that built the foundations of our profession. What I admire the most from Saul Bass is his rational approach; and from Pablo Ferro, his sense of wilderness.
I also fancy the work of Kyle Cooper, who is a truly contemporary hero in the field, and is somebody that really pushes motion design to new boundaries. I also love the work from Elastic, Animade and Studio AKA. From a more artistic point of view, I admire the work of Norman McLaren, John Whitney, Chuck Jones and Yuri Norstein. Although he’s not an animator, I really praise filmmaker Kenneth Anger for the way he constructs visual narratives.
At the end of the day, what do you love most about motion and animation?
I think it is the possibility of bringing an emotion to life. That gives you the chance of sharing a message, a concept, an idea, even a vision of the world. To break language barriers and culture differences is what I love the most.