While he is more often than not simply referred to as "That motion guy", George Hurrell is actually a motion and animation specialist with a background in visual communication and design.
With over 15 years of studio experience working collaboratively in teams or managing projects on his own, he now runs his own studio, which he formed with the philosophy that “design isn't about ego, its about solving problems for clients.”
Having worked across a broad range of content; from TV ads to social media content, design for web, Idents, explainer videos and more, George certainly has a lot to say for himself. So let’s not waste any more time and hear from the man himself.
How did you get into the industry?
I followed my passion for creating through school, Art college and university where I ended up finishing a degree in Visual Communication. This is where I learned design principles and began my exploration of the software available to animate, Flash, Director and I got hold of a copy of one of the very early versions of Cinema 4D.
My first step in the creative industry was designing emails. It wasn’t the heady heights of having my own boutique studio that my friends and I at Uni had dreamed of, but it was a start. From there I moved through a few different agencies working on web design, marketing, social media, but always kept pushing the animation side of my work which I have always enjoyed the most.
Eventually I started growing and building a motion department within one of the larger and well established Design & Marketing agencies in Yorkshire. From there I worked in branding agencies too which gave me broader scope for my understanding of how to solve design problems and communicate the clients business, services and brand as a whole.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I am from the UK but currently based in Costa Rica. I wanted to explore and broaden my view of the world. So in pursuit of that I have been travelling whilst working since 2019.
I started my own business in 2019 and COVID hit the world. I think it could have gone either way, but the fact that everyone needed remote workers helped me and my business in some way. There is different stress related to being freelance, but this flexibility has given me great satisfaction and the boost to my confidence has been well worth it.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
This is a difficult question, I am into extreme sports so in terms of what I would be doing… I would say surfing or still riding my bmx, but I never got close to a level where I could make any sort of living from it.
Or just to be an artist, to create and to share it with the world and make a living out of that. It would give me a voice, an outlet and a way to express myself.
Can you explain your creative process? What makes it unique?
I have always wanted to create art and not just to design. When I was younger and still at University I believed what I was doing was new and no-one had done it before. But you learn that you are influenced, whether consciously or subconsciously, by everything you see and experience.
I think it's hard to stand out and can even be harder to have the belief to stand by the integrity of your work and yourself as a person. In design there shouldn’t be an ego as you are there to solve problems for your clients and ultimately create for them not yourself.
Since I began my journey into design I was taught the traditional design process, which I still follow but also adapt. Today I use it more as a guide rather than a rule. But from the very first moment of reading a brief, many thoughts and ideas flow through my mind like trains passing by a busy platform. And there is always one idea that stands out. I use the design process as a way to test this theory.
Some occasions it wouldn’t pass the test but I always have a strong vision of what the final outcome will be. I think you need this inner belief in your instincts and also the process; to keep working even through challenging times when you lack motivation or inspiration; trusting your instincts will always lead you to your goal.
How would you describe your style?
I am never afraid to try something new because life is interesting as long as you remain outside the limits of what you already know. I am open to making mistakes because when you are making new things, trying new things and pushing yourself you are ultimately changing your world. So I don’t think I have adopted a particular style.
This has its advantages and disadvantages though. In some ways I wish I had a much more consistent style. You look at some Instagram accounts and you see such strong personalities and defined styles. This very dedicated approach to really crafting and developing a sense of personal style I have not found in myself, or not yet at least.
I bounce around finding something else I like, working out how it is done and then seeing the next shiny thing on another page I want to emulate for some unknown future project, personal or commercial. I think learning and developing this way allows me to be very flexible though and this is what I like most about my approach. Ultimately I love creating cool stuff, regardless of its style.
Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
I was asked this question some time ago, and at the time I couldn’t really think of anyone. This used to come from my ego at a young age…believing I was the only one doing what I was doing. I didn’t need to know of anyone else, although I would still look at and draw inspiration from other people, and artists.
I followed Beeple (Mike Winkleman) from the very early days when he started creating a piece of art/design everyday. This turned into creating motion works too. I was amazed that he could find time to do this while having a family and still working freelance. He would also give away all his projects for free to people to use how they wanted, to learn from or put into personal projects.
In a world where people seem to hold onto secrets in a belief this will give them an advantage over others and to share his process and knowledge with others was very inspiring. He did this for over 10 years and it paid off he sold all of these pieces of art at Christies as an NFT for $69M.
The way he speaks is very down to earth and his own belief in his work or himself or just lack of worrying about what others think of him is something to admire. I mean he swears every second word and can be very blunt but this makes him a great character who speaks his truth.
Just one other in quite a big list is Ash Thorp, his work is outstanding. He has made a name for himself and works with some of the big dogs in the industry. His approach to detail and ‘perfection’ and the technical know-how in what he creates is astounding, for me personally anyway as so much of what we see can be subjective.
What tips would you give to aspiring creatives looking for work?
Never stop creating. Personal projects can be a great source of enjoyment for learning new skills, new techniques and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.To have a greater spread of work to draw from gives you more opportunity to show off your best work.
To be able to talk confidently and passionately about what you do and who you are. Also every potential knock back/rejection is an opportunity to learn and grow to become better and be more resilient.
What tips would you give to other professionals to get more clients?
I’m not sure there is an exact science to this, as I simply don’t believe bigger number is better. But being professional and courteous throughout working with people, especially when everyone is stressed and deadlines are looming.
Going that extra mile for a client, being open to change and able to adapt really does make a difference. I don’t necessarily mean working yourself into the ground but if you can under promise and over deliver, This translates into word of mouth and positive feedback for finding more clients. This also means those clients will keep coming back to you.
Sometimes just long hard work to look up, find, research and email companies or individuals you would like to work with. Being persistent and not giving up. There is always an opportunity waiting for you, it is learning to be open to see it.
What kind of tools/kit/software could you not do without?
I used to think it was my Mac, but I have just recently moved to PC. (Please dont judge me too harshly!) After Effects is my tool of choice along with Cinema4D, this is what I use daily. I love a good plugin too.
Which ones? Too many to mention, but these usually are great time savers even though I used to believe it was cheating; not being able to do it myself, letting some piece of software do the work for me.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
Learning about myself and connecting with the world around me. Being open to life and being inspired by what it offers me. Looking at opportunities that life throws at me in spite of its challenges.
But also have a release, another passion, something that for me at least brings me back to nature and keeps me healthy. I get a different perspective than on a blue lit 17” laptop screen, a different horizon to look at. At the moment that is surfing.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
Different projects have had different highlights. Finding out my first 3D animation got used on a University showreel was a proud moment as I didn’t even believe I was good enough to get onto the Uni course based on the work that I saw on the open day.
One other is a 3D animated TV ad for a company called Betboro. This project I took from concept through to completion. Storyboard, narrative, animation, assets creation. editing, post production. What was slightly different with this one was the client booked the advertising space before we agreed on timings and budget.
Long story short meant I had to complete the 60 sec ad in 2 weeks. With just 3-4 hours sleep every night and an incredibly stressful fortnight we made it over the finish line with something the client was delighted with and despite everything I was happy with too.
What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?
The Motion Design industry has grown a lot since I began my journey and the way technology has evolved has been quite inspiring. What people can create today is astonishing. You can learn all you need about software from YouTube tutorials.
I don’t think the thing I would change is particularly ground-breaking or novel, but the work/life balance. I don't think clients understand how much goes into making things move. Working at one agency a junior couldn’t believe he spent a whole week working to just create a 10 second animated sequence for a brand identity.
I decided to go freelance to give myself a better opportunity to manage and control my work life balance. Having said that helping people, clients understand what is involved is all about education and communication.
The better you are at communicating what you do and what needs to be done the more confident and comfortable the client will be. This will relieve pressure and stress further down the line along with you being able to charge what is fair for your services.
Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
The Freelance Manifesto: A Field Guide for the Modern Motion Designer - Joey Korenman ( great for insights about going freelance but also good tips on being able to communicate more effectively)
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life - Mark Manson - ( I read this recently and is more about how to deal with and approach the things life throws at you)
A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson (This is along read and can get a bit boring in places, but the interesting parts are really interesting and mind blowing…did you know that atoms never actually touch each other? So you never actually touch anything despite it feeling like you do!...This blew my mind)
Over the Edge: A Regular Guy's Odyssey in Extreme Sports - Michael Bane
(This was an inspiring book about overcoming adversity, pushing your limits and going out of your comfort zone…finding out what you are truly capable of).
https://greyscalegorilla.com/ These guys have been around for a while but a great place for resources and tutorials.
https://aescripts.com/ Plugins, plugins, plugins. You can find some great stuff here.
https://motionographer.com/ Great for reference, inspiration, jobs and just keeping in touch with what is going on in the world/industry.