Graham Higgins is a motion graphics designer who works mostly in After Effects and Maya, but says he still feels like a bit of a novice in the motion graphics industry.
CP profile: creativepool.co.uk/GrahamHiggins
How long have you been in the industry?
I graduated from college in 2005, then worked in Dublin, then freelanced, then eventually made it to London last year. So about 4 -5 years in all. I am 30 now but still feel like a bit of a junior. I'm boardering on mid level designer / junior if Im being honest. This is probably because I have jumped around a bit in terms of platform. I worked a bit in flash and web design, then print design for a while also. But I'm finally back to motion graphics where I intend to stay.
Describe your work in one sentence.
Plain & simple, bold, fun, full of colour and quirky.
Who are some of the clients you have worked for?
V&A, Freemantle, Acorn Media, Cork ArtTrail, EatCork, Castle Hotel, Tubs n Tiles.
What's the most important thing you've learned in your line of work?
I don't think I've learned it yet. In graphics and animation the learning of software is never ending. You have 3D programs, special effects programs, dynamic simulation, tracking programs, pc programs, mac programs. It appears to be never ending. But that's ok, I seem to like the learning of new things. I would see an animation or even something in everyday life and I'm always saying, "hmm, I wonder how that's done". Right now I have to decide wether to learn a new 3D program, because it seems a lot of the industry at my level are working in cinema 4D. Im sure the transition won't be that difficult but still its a good few hours of tutorials, as usual.
What attracted you to your chosen field?
In college we would often be split into teams and you would need to break the workload into areas like, coding, audio, video, project management and graphics. I was always the graphics guy. In our final year project we needed animations so it seemed only natural for me to transition into After Effects. I also like the branding aspect. I used to Dj and so we would put on small events in pubs and clubs. So I would play around with the logo, name generation, posters, flyers etc.
Tell us about your best project to date.
Without sounding like one of these name droppers, the last project I worked on was sort of prestigious, for a change. The company I was with Squint/Opera were working on the Hollywood Costume exhibition for the V&A and I was brought in as a motion graphics designer. I think because I had done multimedia helped, it was both animation and exhibition design. The table animations they had designed up required matching animations through a projector and onto tables with props laid out. When it came to testing, there was a bit of hands on involved. The mechanics of it was fairly straightforward; props were designed up in CAD software for the model makers. These were drawn to scale. From these we could take them into illustrator through Dwg files. These were our masks for the animations in After Effects. Toward the end, we went on site at the V&A and were able to plug our laptop into the projectors and work live through photoshop. We could tweak the masks exactly to match up with the models and then update our animations. Even while working on them at that stage people walking past would stop and come over for a look, the end result is an interesting look.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
I'm Aquarius. I thought I was unique, but turns out there are others in the gang. We are, apparently, creative and curious people, who question everything. I like to stand out from the crowd whilst still being subtle. I think if I were a chef, I would be very simple. Just let the food do the talking, fresh ingredients etc.
If you could work on any project for any company/organisation, what would it be and who would it be for?
That's easy, E4 or MTV.
What frustrates you the most about your job?
The most frustrating thing would have to be getting your foot in the door of places. Finding a place you fit in. Your styles are not always going to be the same. Well I've found that with me anyway. I don't like things to be too corporate, or too safe. I think the best ads out there, be it print or tv, don't take themselves too seriously and break the mould a bit. Don't just do what every other advertiser is doing, try something new, it will stand ten times stronger.
What pearl of wisdom can you offer to someone thinking about starting out as a freelancer?
It's not as daunting as it may appear. I was very stand off, but if you get to meet with people first and have a talk through what's to be done and what's required it may actually work out to be a good partnership. I haven't done a huge amount but have seen freelancers come into places I was working and they seem to be able to fall in very seamlessly. Often the work or design is already established and someone is required to finish it through. I am still undecided as to what I will do in the next few months. I am obviously job hunting again, hence being here and would like to land that dream role. But I'm thinking maybe trying out different studios for a while freelance may not be a bad idea and help get some more projects under my belt.
If you could have ONE super power, what would it be?
To be able to find myself a job at the click of my fingers!
What's your favourite bit of kit?
Im probably supposed to say my 'Wacom tablet' here, but Im gonna have to go with my KennelMate lunchbox. You fit a surprising amount of pasta into that thing. Can save you a fiver somedays.
Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I was quite a good swimmer, we used to train before school at 6.00am every morning. We were in the water for 6.00, so working late some evenings or coming in early doesn't really bother me that much. ha.
What's your favourite song of all time?
John Edwards - Sister Rose. (Life, Love and Living Lp)
What is your favourite app?
I don't have a huge amount of apps, just the bare essentials, London tube map, Halo, Aerlingus..... sorry.
Facebook or Twitter?
I never really got into them, I like to talk face to face.
Eat in or out?
I try to avoid restaurants if I can. Love cooking and eating other peoples cooking as well.
If you would like to step into the Creativepool Spotlight, email through some examples of your work