Can you tell us a bit about your role and how long you’ve been at The Mill?
I joined The Mill a little over three years ago to help shape and drive our Design Studio offering. The department already had an excellent team of artists working on some big motion design projects and with our Mill Direction roster but we realised that there was a lot of potential in operating as more of a traditional motion design studio that could lead projects in their own right as well.
My role has been to oversee the production of many of these projects, look after our design and animation-focused rostered directors, and along with Henry Foreman our Head of Design, search for amazing artists that complement the talent we already have in the studio.
Which projects have you been particularly proud to have worked on of late?
The projects that make me most proud are the ones where I feel we have completely nailed communicating the idea we set out to achieve. With our channel idents for Al Jazeera English, we spent a lot of time collaborating with our Creative Strategy team to make sure we were hitting the right notes and conveying the brand values of the news channel. We developed visual metaphors that subtly nodded to the channel’s journalistic approach and although they were abstract ideas, we made sure that everything was very accessible to a mainstream audience.
Is there a reason why so many brands are calling for motion design as an answer to their needs?
Many brands have been using motion design and animation successfully for years, but in the last twelve months, a lot more have had to move out of their comfort zone as a safe bet for content creation. When you consider the endless possibilities that motion design can bring, it is a sensible solution. We can tailor the visual aesthetic perfectly to how a brand wishes to speak to its audience. We can be free from restraints of reality, bring life to inanimate products, create characters, mix media and repurpose archive footage in attention-grabbing ways.
What challenges do you face when tackling a brief in Design?
There’s a huge motion design community out there of artists experimenting and making stunningly beautiful pieces of content in their own time. Often this content influences trends in art direction and new ways of using software. We receive a lot of briefs that are full of useful references of work seen on Instagram etc. Although a valuable source for inspiration, we always need to sense check that the work we are inspired by serves a purpose when used commercially. It’s tempting to follow the zeitgeist but there needs to be substance to our design.
Are there any brands you’re hoping to work with this year?
We are very fortunate that we get to work with some amazing brands already across our global studios, but what has really caught my eye are the projects that Microsoft have been commissioning over the last few years. Incredibly well-crafted films demonstrating how they have modernised their UI and brand. Each one looked like a lot of fun to make, so I’m really hoping we get an opportunity to collaborate with them soon.
What’s keeping you inspired right now?
Going down a rabbit hole researching projects and discovering new artists that we might want to collaborate with is extremely motivating for me. Usually, we’d be out attending some of the great design festivals like Us By Night or OFFF which always get me hyped and full of new ideas. In the absence of doing this I’ve been watching a lot of great talks online instead. The guys who run See No Evil have put out a series of interviews with artists in the industry called ‘A Drink With…’ which I really enjoy. I’d also recommend Katie Cowan’s Creativeboom podcast. Both offer some great insight into how other artists and studios like to approach projects which I always find very inspiring.