Something Savage With Daniel Savage

The creator behind Yule Log and Look-See finds his rhythm.

ADC’s Motion and Animation Month is back! After featuring the many illustrators, photographers, letterers and typographers within the ADC community here on the ADC blog, it’s once again time to highlight on the artists who breathe life to still images and make them move. From traditional cel animation to 3D animation, from TV interstitials to web series, July’s featured ADC Members run the creative gamut in an industry whose output is as challenging and time consuming as it is rewarding.

From his Brooklyn-based studio Something Savage, Daniel Savage creates work with clean lines and primary colors that make for bold yet delicate animations.


Daniel Savage, Designer & Animation Director
Brooklyn NY



What’s your earliest memory of being interested in motion/animation?

When I was a child I would yell “no puppets!” if they put on Sesame Street instead of Looney Tunes.

Did you study formally? What outside the classroom helped to shape your ability?

Originally music, switched to graphic design, and taught myself how to animate. My innate rhythm from playing drums definitely helped with animation.

When did you start to realize that this could be a full time gig?

I guess I’m arrogant enough to think anything I was interested in would be my full time gig.

Do you remember some of your early work? And in comparison to your latest work, what is the biggest change you’ve noticed? What has remained the same?

I’ve always bounced between abstract geometry and character work, and most recently I’ve merged the two.

What do you enjoy most about being a freelancer?

Being able to do whatever I want.

What is your must have tool, plug in, etc. you can’t work without?

Trapcode shine v1.008 is pretty dope.

Top sources you revisit for a creative jolt?

Traveling usually helps. Also love documentaries of interesting people.

What is your favorite part of the process?

Hitting render.

Look-See from Something Savage on Vimeo.

Tell us about a project of which you are especially proud.

Anything I make I eventually hate, so I guess it would be Yule Log. It’s a community project I started in 2013 with 100’s of animators re-imagining the traditional yule log fireplace. It’s become a tradition and I think it brings people together with an excuse to make something that shows off what they learned that year.

Are you sketching with pencil and paper? What tools do you use for making 3D models?

Each project is different, sometimes I’ll do everything in photoshop with a Cintiq, other times I’ll only use a computer at the end to clean up and color a scan.

Do you experiment with software/tools/techniques or do you stick with what you know?

Always experimenting, I get bored quick.

What is your work station situation?

I’d love to share a photo but it’s a total mess right now. I’m in the Pencil Factory sharing a space with a bunch of super talented folks. I have two tables, one with an iMac / Cintiq and a second with a light box and a cutting mat for getting dirty. I also have a sweet couch that I don’t use as often as I should.

If the motion is to have sound FX, are you listening to these during the creation process? Or are these added later on?

I get someone who knows what they are doing like Ambrose Yu to help out once it’s near the end. Sometimes I’ll drop in a reference track early on to get the rhythm I’m looking for.

A lot of people we’ve spoken to reject this idea of having a ‘style’. Do you think you have one? Or do you feel it puts limitations on your potential?

I’d like to think I have a voice. I guess there are slight style shifts within that, but its a tight range. Being a generalist is fine but it’s not for me. I guess it could limit who your clients are in a traditional sense, but I’d rather not work with a client who doesn’t like me for me. 

If you had to choose one area of design to focus on, what would it be and why? 

Hmm.. let’s go with architecture, because in a hypothetical world I know how to design a building.

Aside from creating work for clients, what was the last thing you created for yourself?

I try to keep a 50/50 ratio of client to personal work, it helps me stay sane. Look-See is my most recent film, you can read about the making of here.

Who in your orbit is making work you are loving these days?

Robbie Junge and Joshie Fishbien are working on some of the best web projects right now.