Design Spotlight | Donnie Bauer ‘Spring’

We caught up with Creative Director, Donnie Bauer on his submission to The Mill's last Design Weekender.
Work March 11, 2020

Talk us through your latest submission to the Design Weekender

This design was first inspired by a collaboration I did with my friends at Pitchfork in Chicago. Pitchfork is an American online magazine that features independent music, new releases, and special feature articles on recording artists. The goal was to create a refreshing piece of animation that could live on their Facebook page as a banner ad. Although the animation took on a slightly different life, I was excited to return back to some earlier iterations to explore these unique still frame compositions.

Design Weekender ‘Spring’

What was your thinking behind creating ‘Spring’?

At the time of creation, we were entering into the spring season, so I thought of all the colors and elements that might come along with that. Of course, pastels and flower elements were at the top of my mind. However, I like using these natural elements in unnatural ways. For instance, playing with gravity and re-arranging leaves and petals into unique arrangements that simply aren’t found in nature.




WIP A – This is taken from very early explorations where I was playing with simple shapes, limited color palettes, and foliage. I really like the idea of combining gold along with the traditional “spring” pastels. My goal was to create the sensation of motion even in just a still frame.

WIP B – Here, I started to explore some abstract shapes via Houdini. While using the obvious elements like leaves and flowers, I thought it would be fun to add to the surreal nature of the scene by implementing this very organic and every growing sculpture.

WIP C – Now you can start to see the beginning of what ultimately became the “Spring” finished artwork. I leaned into more yellow for the background-color along with simplifying the foliage to just a few unique assets. The orbs add movement while contributing hits of color.

Pitchfork Music Festival, Paris | Donnie Bauer

How does this submission relate to your usual style? Feel free to branch out with examples

This is definitely within my comfort zone of stylized CGI. I love utilizing objects and elements from real life that are very familiar to everyone. I like using realistic surfaces and finishes then putting these objects into impossible positions and compositions. I think that’s the most fun part of doing anything in 3D –  being able to make what’s ‘real’… feel ‘surreal’.

Here is a really great example of how I use this style to create longer-form animations… also for my friends at Pitchfork!

Tell us about something that’s inspiring you right now?

This may sound strange but most of what is inspiring to me now aren’t 3D related at all. I get most excited these days by watching independent films. I love following an interesting narrative told by an up and coming filmmaker. As well as breaking down scenes… understanding more about what makes my favorite shots so compelling. I love the idea of being able to understand better the art of film making… that this will, in turn, influence my design and CGI as well. I’m also very attracted most recently to graphic design. I’ve noticed a really big movement in creating imaginative typography as of late. I find myself following more and more font designers on Instagram and being blown away with how people are making beautiful imagery through very simple, flat, yet striking compositions.

Check out The Mill’s previous edition of the Design Weekender which featured Donnie’s ‘Spring’ artwork here.

For more examples of Donnie’s work, head to his website: and Instagram page @genghisdon.

Donnie brings over 12 years experience working across projects for broadcast television, large-scale installations and concerts. From a rough sketch to the final deliverable, Donnie is dedicated to every step of the process. Donnie’s passion for design and animation has earned him various industry accolades. He is a hands-on director who prides himself on his heavy involvement from the very beginning of any project, right until the end.