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A Dynamo Designer: Nuria Boj

By Adam Korenman

One of the hardest parts of motion design is finding a unique style that is all your own. Lucky for Nuria Boj, she's not afraid of a little hard work

A while back, we teamed up with the incredible Ordinary Folk studio to put together a video that defined SOM as not a school but a movement. The whole video was incredible (as OF only knows how to crush it), but we were particularly taken by the unique and eye-catching design and illustration. It was unlike anything we'd see before, and we had to meet one of the the designers who helped make it possible: Nuria Boj.
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Nuria's career as a full-time freelancer is just getting started, but she's already putting out some of the coolest work ever. After graduating from Edinburgh Napier University with a degree in Graphic Design, she cut her teeth on staff with the fine folk at Werewolf. Along the way, she defined her strengths in design and illustration.
Since going freelance, Nuria has had the chance to work with clients from all over the world. Her focus on illustration and character design helped her stand out (it certainly caught our attention). Of course, we're very partial to her impressive collaboration with Ordinary Folk on the Manifesto, but her sense for movement and perspective is really something else.
Nuria has a passion and energy that permeates everything she does. Her talent is evident, but it's the work she's put in behind the scenes that is most impressive. No one just arrives ready to take on a freelance career.
So warm up, because we're about to get into the mix with a fantastic designer and illustrator.

A Dynamo Designer: Nuria Boj

Show Notes

Studios

Pieces

Resources

Transcript

Joey Korenman:
Nuria, I am so happy to have you on the podcast. I've been a fan of your work since I found out about you, which is when you worked on our Manifesto video, and it's just awesome to finally get to talk to you. So, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
Nuria Boj:
Oh, thank you so much. I'm super happy and excited to be here.
Joey Korenman:
Well, I think everyone's going to be really excited to learn as much as they can from you. So, I kind of wanted to start just with your background, because you haven't been in the industry that long. I've been in the industry ... It's almost embarrassing to say, but probably close to 20 years at this point. And you've already accomplished a lot, but I'd like to find out sort of where you started.
Joey Korenman:
So if you go to Nuria's website, we'll link to it in the show notes, on your About page, it says that you are a Spanish, Edinburgh-based freelance multi-disciplinary motion designer and illustrator, which is a very impressive collection of titles, by the way. So, that's where you're at now. Where did you start? How did you end up with all of those adjectives describing you?
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. Great question. I think I definitely need to update that though. But from the start, I guess, I'm actually from a small town from Spain called [inaudible 00:01:12]. So, it's from the south of Spain, just right beside the Mediterranean.
Nuria Boj:
And I was born and raised there. But when I was 18, I had the opportunity to move to Sheffield in the UK with some family members, and I did a year of college, just because I wanted to go upper north. I had the opportunity to go to Edinburgh University to study graphic design. So after that, I moved to Scotland and thought I was going to be a graphic designer.
Joey Korenman:
Now, why did you decide to go to school for graphic design? Because a lot of people in motion design, at least sort of around my age when we got into it, you sort of fell into it, or it was almost an accident that you ended up here. And now obviously, there's a little bit more of a straightforward path. Did you always know you wanted to be a professional artist?
Nuria Boj:
Yes. I think I really did, because I had a very early self-educated approach to learn online through tutorials and the internet about things like Photoshop. And I always was really certain for small projects that I could do for other people. So, kind of in a very organic way, I found myself really interested into graphic, into creating logos, playing with typography, and a little bit of everything, and just kind of organically found that graphic design was the right start into the industry in a way.
Joey Korenman:
And so when you were watching tutorials and teaching yourself how to do all of this, were you aware at that time that design is a separate skill from learning Photoshop? Because that's the trick, right? Even when I was sort of growing up and I was a kid, I was always into making movies and editing and computer graphics. But, it took me a while to realize that just knowing the buttons isn't enough. So, were you already studying the creative side and the design side?
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. That's a great question. Definitely, there's more to design than Photoshop. So, I had the opportunity, just before I moved to the UK, to do one year of Bachelor in Arts, which I think would be the same as a senior year in the US, I believe. So, that was a really good opportunity because, one, I realized that there were so many talented individuals better than me, and two, I actually got to learn about the history of design and how to actually make use of what you learn with software and actually have a more critical thinking about your approach to design. So, there's way more than just pressing some buttons in Photoshop, for sure.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, absolutely. It's infuriating that just being good at Photoshop doesn't make you a good designer. I wish that it did.
Nuria Boj:
Exactly.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. Okay. So, you're in Spain, and then you go to Sheffield, and then you end up in Edinburgh. So, how did you end up there?
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. So, I kind of ... Nothing was planned at this point. I kind of found I had the opportunity to because it was either staying in the UK trying to apply for university or going back to Spain and trying to figure out a different plan. So, I kind of applied for a few universities, and I actually only had the opportunity to go to one, which was Edinburgh [inaudible 00:04:41] University.
Nuria Boj:
I actually only got accepted into one. So, but anyways, I visited Edinburgh when they did opening doors, and I was just so fascinated by the culture and also the type of discipline that they were having on that university. So, Edinburgh was kind of either my chance to stay in the UK and keep learning, or going back to Spain and doing maybe graphic design in Madrid or Barcelona.
Joey Korenman:
And what was the program like that there? Was it sort of a traditional art school, very principles-focused?
Nuria Boj:
It was actually, I think ... The graphic design classes, they're really integrated into the industry, and it's not very close related to an arts school per se, I would say. I think they mix a lot of disciplines within the university. In Edinburgh, they do have art school, and I actually applied there, but I didn't have the opportunity to go there either. But, I kind of made the best I could.
Nuria Boj:
I went with a super sharp mind into graphic design, and tried to learn as much as I could. And I guess graphic design just gave me this really good understanding about creative briefs and responding to creative problems, and answering those questions through graphics. So, it was a really good background, and I really enjoyed the course and the people that I got to meet during those years. It was really good, in my opinion.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. That's the foundation for everything. And so now, if we look at your work, it's almost all illustrative. And so, when did that piece come in? Were you working on that while you were at school, or had you always been doing that?
Nuria Boj:
Well, I kind of did illustration. I would draw, but I was never really good at it, in my opinion. And I actually never thought I would be neither an illustrator or a motion designer. It was never my intention. But actually, illustration came the last thing of all the things that I've done through my life, I suppose. I first was an animator, so and before that was graphic designer. So, how it all turned out, it was that ... I think it was 2015. I actually should probably thank Jake Bartlett because I think he was one of my tutors at school during that time.
Nuria Boj:
I went to one of his classes on kinetic type and after effects, and that was actually the start of me getting to understand the motion industry in a way, how things work, and made me really hooked into getting to learn more about the discipline. And that was in 2015, and I was on my second year of university. It actually was ... If I would have not done that class probably, I wouldn't have been doing what I'm doing now, which is quite crazy to think about it, because it kind of ... Getting to learn about motion opened me the doors to what I do now.
Nuria Boj:
Because on the third year, normally you get to do placements. And so, I was in second year, and I kind of wanted to speed up the process. So, I put my portfolio with the third years. I managed to get a placement at a local design agency. And fast forward a little bit, I kind of got to meet the motion director of the company and managed to do my placement in motion design rather than graphic design. So, that's kind of how it kind of got started.
Joey Korenman:
That is an amazing story, and Jake is going to turn bright red when I told him that. That's going to tickle him. That's so funny. Well, I'm glad you brought that up, because I was going to ask about that. Looking at your work that is animated ... And so everyone, you have to go to Nuria's website. It's awesome. We'll link to it. And a lot of the work is just still, and then, it's probably like a 50/50 split, and some of it's animated, and some of it is traditionally animated.
Joey Korenman:
Like, you were drawing these things frame by frame. And I wanted to know, where did you learn all of that? Did you learn all of that through the internet, and starting with Jake Bartlett, and ending up in a YouTube rabbit hole?
Nuria Boj:
Yes, definitely. So, I'm a big fan of the internet and learning online. So when I started working as a junior motion designer, I would always put time aside learning online through tutorials and if I have the time and money, I would just spend it to get to learn more. I was just super enthusiastic about learning.
Nuria Boj:
And yeah. I think that that class that I took with him, it was the initiating point for me, because I remember taking this really short and funny quote from Orange is the New Black about Toy Story, and I was just so excited about illustrating the farms and animating the text. Who knew that that would turn out into a passion for motion, and later on into illustration?
Nuria Boj:
But actually, when I was doing the placement at that design agency, and I ended up doing motion design placement through, I think, probably two weeks, the motion design director, David Harmond, he actually was going to be my teacher for animation on the third year. And he actually, for a while, offered me the possibility to do part-time work for him. So, that's how I got initiated into the industry a bit, and I [inaudible 00:10:17] validated my animation classes with him to working for him.
Joey Korenman:
That's better.
Nuria Boj:
And so-
Joey Korenman:
Instead of you paying him, he pays you.
Nuria Boj:
In a way, yes. So, I did the third year off university, and then just decided to just go full-time and I didn't do my fourth year at university. But, I think it was totally worth it because I was able to work in the industry and get to learn from doing, which was probably the best.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. It's a much faster way to learn. So, I want to talk about that studio. But first, I'm curious. What is the motion design industry like in Edinburgh and in Scotland, in general?
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. So, I really thought it's actually a really small and tight industry. There is definitely not that much going on compared to places like London or, in general, the US or Canada. I think actually in Scotland, there is a bigger sense for gaming in 3D industries because you can find companies like Rockstar or Access Animation, who are really big here.
Nuria Boj:
So in terms of motion design studios, there are a few, but they're pretty small I think. But, there's this really cool thing that they do every year, which I just get so excited every time I see it advertised, which is Move Summit. They do it every year. I think they've been doing it for three years, I believe.
Nuria Boj:
And they will bring professional animators from the 3D industry or the TV industry. I think last year, actually, I got to briefly speak with Joe Mullen from Buck. He came to talk about what they do. And I also got to listen to James Baxter, hopefully I pronounce his name right, who's been the director of character animation for Netflix and animations such as Klaus.
Joey Korenman:
Klaus. Yep.
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. For Netflix, which was so awesome. I was so excited to see their perspective on just so much knowledge that they have to do. So, it's a very small industry, but I think step by step, it's just getting more room into Scotland.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. Well, so we'll talk a little bit more about this later because you live in Edinburgh, where it sounds like there's a small tight-knit community, which honestly, that's sometimes the best set-up because everybody who works in the industry kind of knows each other and supports each other. It's really cool. It sounds almost like when I got to visit Detroit. In Detroit, I think the market's growing bigger, but everybody knows each other, and they have barbecues, and it's really awesome. So, but I want to hear a little bit about Werewolf, which was the place that you worked out of school. And I'd never heard of them. Now, were they a motion design studio, or were they more sort of just traditional design studio that did a little bit of motion?
Nuria Boj:
So, yeah. So, my time at Werewolf actually was really a great experience. Werewolf in essence was a really small motion design studio, but it was actually trading arm of this design agency called Contagious. So, we were pretty much just three individuals creating work as a motion design studio. So, you can imagine I got myself into being able to learn from actually getting involved into every strip, every step of the project.
Nuria Boj:
So, we were working as a motion design studio for around two years, which was a great experience. But then, they decided to change the path in their career. And so, I decided to stay for a further year. But instead of being Werewolf, I kind of started being the in-house motion designer of this design agency called Contagious for that extra year.
Nuria Boj:
And what I did for them was mainly doing 3D type of renders. They created this really amazing branding for whiskey companies, which is something really big here in Scotland. So, I was really involved into creating that type of work for a year before I decided to go freelance.
Joey Korenman:
What was the learning curve like for you learning 3D? Because I'm imagining you probably also taught yourself 3D.
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. So, 3D was something that I was really interested in learning, primarily because the guys knew how to do 3D really well, and I was just so inspired. And the great thing about it is that I could get almost every day mentorship on feedback and things that I could do. And so, I would definitely apply whatever I knew about 3D into my day-to-day, but certainly spent a lot of time, apart from that, learning by myself.
Nuria Boj:
I kind of felt that I have to catch up with everyone because I was junior at it, and really knew much, and I guess the experience kind of put me up to speed to having to learn really fast as well.
Joey Korenman:
That's great. And were you doing illustration at the time?
Nuria Boj:
Yes. So, I think illustration and animation go hand by hand, I would say. So, I remember actually having to do these animations that I would just ... We didn't have a [inaudible 00:15:42] or a draw and tell that I would have right now. So, I had to use just paper. And I remember spending so much time drawing on paper, and just tracing it, and scanning it, and putting it into the computer. It just took ages, and I was just getting so frustrated with the whole process that after saving up some money, I decided that I wanted to get better at it, because I wanted to take my animations to the next level.
Nuria Boj:
I kind of started my career looking up to these big studios that created this amazing work. And of course, there's just so many people behind those projects, but I was just so enthusiastic about getting to that level one day. So, I put myself to work and I practiced like crazy illustration. And again, I just got really hooked into learning more illustration every day.
Joey Korenman:
Man, we have a great illustration class taught by Sarah Beth Morgan, and in working with her on that class, it made me realize that there is no shortcut to being good at illustration. I was hoping there was. So, I can imagine just the hundreds of hours you must have put in. And so, I kind of wanted to bring something up, which is interesting.
Joey Korenman:
I talk sometimes about this idea, I didn't come up with this idea, but the idea is called a talent stack. And especially as a freelancer, it's really useful if you have a diverse set of skills. And so if you're just really good at after effects, that's one skill. But if you're really good at after effects plus you can edit, well, your talent stack is better. If you can also design a little bit, well now, you're going to get hired a lot.
Joey Korenman:
And you have illustration, animation, and 3D. I usually see illustration and animation go together, animation and 3D go together. Illustration and 3D, I don't see that often. So, I'm curious. Is that a conscious thing? Were you just interested in those things, or did you think like, "Oh, if I'm good at both of these, then my career's going to be a lot easier to sort of navigate?"
Nuria Boj:
Right. So that's a great question. I kind of was just really interested into 3D because, for me, it was just really interesting to actually get to learn about materials. And although I don't practice much 3D nowadays, I do use it sometimes for referencing on my illustrations, but I don't use it nowadays.
Nuria Boj:
But, the good thing about 3D and me learning about it, it was that it gave me the sensibility for depth, volume, rendering, and the understanding of materials and light and shadows. It was just such a ... In a way, it was really connected for me to illustration, and actually, that knowledge helped me quite a lot with the Manifesto video.
Joey Korenman:
Yes.
Nuria Boj:
As you maybe have thought of.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. Okay. So, I'm getting really excited because you just made a light bulb go off in my head because ... Before I get to that light bulb though, there is one last little bit of housekeeping I wanted to ask you about, which is I just really am dying to go to Scotland. I've never been. And you've lived there for six years. So if I go, or if anyone listening, goes to Scotland, and it doesn't have to be Edinburgh, it can be anywhere, what are the things that you would tell someone to go see, if they've never been?
Nuria Boj:
Oh. Well, I think definitely need to go to the Highlands, especially if you love camping and just driving through nature. It's the one thing to go and do. Of course if you go to Edinburgh or Glasgow or any other small town in Scotland, you will find just so many beautiful architecture and heritage. And you can always spend a full day just trying whiskeys as well if you like.
Joey Korenman:
That sounds awful. Yeah. No thank you.
Nuria Boj:
But-
Joey Korenman:
That's amazing.
Nuria Boj:
Definitely yeah. The heritage and the Highlands is the go place.
Joey Korenman:
I love it.
Nuria Boj:
In Scotland.
Joey Korenman:
Sold. Sold. I'm coming. All right? I'm coming. I'll let you know. All right. So, let's get back to your illustration. So when I saw the boards for the Manifesto video ... So just so everyone listening knows, so Nuria worked as part of the dream team that was assembled by Ordinary Folk to execute our Manifesto video, which came out in 2019. And every time I watch it, I still get goosebumps. When I saw the boards for it, some of the ... I don't know how to put it really. The use of gradients and the ability to suggest form in these really simple shapes just seemed very fresh to me.
Joey Korenman:
It was like kind of a thing that I hadn't really seen before in motion design, and maybe I had just missed it. But, it was just ... And then I found out that you had worked on these boards, and I wasn't familiar with your work, and I looked into it, and you seemed to be weirdly good at this, like super good, at taking a 2D shape and using little hints of color and highlights and gradients and things like that.
Joey Korenman:
And all of a sudden, it feels very three-dimensional. So, that's why I thought it was really interesting that you called out learning 3D gave you a sense of how materials react and stuff like that. So, maybe you could start. Just talk about the process of developing that sense. How do you approach knowing where to put highlights and where to put shadows, and that whole idea of suggesting form? It's very tricky for people to grasp. You have a very good grasp. So, how did you get there?
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. So first of all, I love your reaction about the video.
Joey Korenman:
It's not just mine, by the way.
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. So, awesome. So, I guess it's just having a sense of where light is coming from in your composition. Once you know the foundations of how materials react to light, you can just morph them and take them out of the normal rules of materials, and use them how you want. So, I think also in essential drawing techniques, you have these rendering classes, which means drawing really realistic shapes and objects.
Nuria Boj:
And that's also really useful. So, maybe you don't even have to go into 3D, per se, to learn it. But, I just kind of love using the colors and thinking about light all of the time. Actually, since I participated on that project, I can't stop myself from using gradients for some reason. And actually, that project was one of my favorites because I got to, not only participate again with Ordinary Folks, but also to get to work alongside two awesome designers like Jay Quercia and Loris Alessandria. Hopefully I pronounce their names correctly.
Nuria Boj:
But, yeah. So, studying 3D materials and shading was a great help for creating the forms and mixing the colors. And there's also a lot of observation and experimentation involved. I really like reading about how to approach shapes and objects into a three-dimensional way. For example, I really like these two books, which maybe other people could find really useful, which are from Scott Roberson.
Nuria Boj:
He has two books, one called How to Draw and How to Render, and they go through the fundamentals of drawing, sketching, and also the fundamentals of light, shadow, and reflectivity. It's one of those books I always kind of refer to all of the time.
Joey Korenman:
Oh, those are great resources. Thank you for sharing that. So at this point when you draw, I'm looking at your website right now and you have this beautiful illustration that you did for Christmas last year, and we'll link to it in the show notes ... But it's a podcast, so I'll just have to describe it for everybody. But, it's this very detailed flower with these petals sort of opening up, and there's these glassy sort of bubbles floating around like ornaments.
Joey Korenman:
It looks like a 3D render. When you have something really organic like that, like a leaf or a flower petal, and you start with just a flat 2D shape, do you now see where the light is supposed to hit, or do you still have to kind of squint your eyes and kind of draw some lines to figure out where the light's coming from? Is it intuitive for you now, or do you still have to bang your head against it?
Nuria Boj:
I think it's becoming every time more intuitive, because if the drawing's not 3D, you kind of have that freedom of twisting reality as much as you want to. So, I always ... Every time I do a sketch, I will always set the highlights and the shadows before I get into color. It's one of those processes that I always do. I find that style, or however you want to call it, it's kind of the history of Photoshop. It's what you tend to do at every step that becomes a habit for you.
Nuria Boj:
So, I see that all the time, every time I do a sketch. I will always say from the start, "Okay, this is going to be the light. This is going to be the shadow." And then between that, have the freedom to mix colors as it fits. So yeah. Always have that planned when I start with an illustration.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. That's a really great way of generating the palettes too. And when you pick the highlight color and the shadow color, do you have any tricks you use or techniques to generate those?
Nuria Boj:
Right. So, I always tend to keep the color palette super strict at the start. I will even start with just grays to set the depth of the illustration, and then I would just start highlighting with white. But, nothing ... Adobe has this reusable tool, which is kind of like a color peaker type of up that I've used a few times.
Nuria Boj:
But other than that, I will just straight mix colors. And sometimes, I find it actually really useful to go out of Photoshop and jump into Procreate, because I find Procreate to be really intuitive to mix colors for something. And then, I will jump back into Photoshop again.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. I love ... So, I'm not an illustrator, but I love Procreate. It's so much fun to use. Are you still drawing primarily in Photoshop and Illustrator for vector stuff, or are you starting to use Procreate more?
Nuria Boj:
So, I am. For client work, I mostly use Photoshop. But the thing is that it really depends how I feel. So, I really like sometimes to work at small screen size because I get less worried about my drawing, and I worry less about the details. So, I kind of use Procreate to, most of the time, come up with the composition ideas and placing the objects and the perspectives.
Nuria Boj:
But, I always tend to finish my artwork in Photoshop. And of course, because I do illustration for motion, I have to be quite versatile. So sometimes, I cannot use Photoshop and I have to use Illustrator because it's way easier for animation, I suppose. So, I kind of use how I feel, if it's the brief and then the drawing itself.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. This is really great. So, another thing I wanted to ask you about with your illustrations is ... I guess the word I'm thinking of is movement. So sometimes when you look at a drawing, just the way the gestures are, the way the forms are, there's a directionality to it. And that's another thing I noticed with your work. You have a very highly developed sense of that. You have this beautiful drawing of ... I guess it's your dog. Really cute.
Joey Korenman:
And just like, the posing and the flowing nature of it is really beautiful. And I know that that's sort of a fundamental skill when you're drawing, is learning to get your gestures to look right. So, how did that develop? Was that also a process of reading books and maybe looking at other disciplines, or is that something that came naturally?
Nuria Boj:
Definitely not naturally. But I think to be honest, you could take classes for gesture drawing if you wanted, but I've never done that actually. So, I think I've learned actually from observation, and actually from observing frame by frame drawings. So, I would just take, for example, hopefully I say his name right, Enrique Varona.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. Enrique. Yeah. He's great.
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. So, he's awesome, and I always admired him since I started into the industry. And I will take just one of his frames, or from other artists, and I would just flick through every drawing to kind of observe how the shapes get extremely stretched at some points, or totally the opposite at other points, to emphasize the movement. And to be honest, I think that was a really good technique for me to get to learn about movement in one single image.
Joey Korenman:
You have a really interesting overlap of skills, Nuria. I can see all the connections between even just understanding how traditional animation works, and that makes you a better illustrator. And then, 3D is a great skill set to have in this industry, and it gives you a little bit of a different insight into shading. I don't know. I don't think I've ever heard anyone make those connections before. It's really fascinating.
Joey Korenman:
So, you are ... The way that you came on my radar was through the motion design industry, working with Ordinary Folk, and you've done a lot of really cool projects with them. But, you're also, and actually the way that this podcast came about, you're repped as an illustrator by Closer and Closer. So, how did that happen?
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. Well, I think they were just looking at my work for a while, and they reached out to me. To be honest, I never thought I would have a representation agency representing my work. At the beginning, I didn't know how much was the benefit. But, it definitely was a really great help because Closer and Closer, actually, they seem to care a lot about their artists, and they also have a really talented roster of individuals and artists.
Nuria Boj:
So, I kind of find that, since I've been represented as well, I've been able to create work that different clients that maybe, by myself, I wouldn't have had the chance to. So, the latest project I created was for Adobe, in collaboration with the Stoke group. And that came through Closer and Closer. So, that was a really exciting project to get the chance to create for such a client.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. I've actually spoken with a couple of other artists that are repped by Closer and Closer, and that's been the sentiment universally, is that if you find a group that can help you with sales and marketing and they're really good at their jobs, then there's kind of no downside. So, that's really awesome. Well, let's talk about the business side of this a little bit because you live in Edinburgh, there's a small motion design scene there. On your website, I don't actually see. Maybe there's one client that actually was in Scotland, but the rest are all over the world. So, how do people find you and book you? How did you end up working with Ordinary Folk?
Nuria Boj:
That's a great question. So, I don't know.
Joey Korenman:
Luck.
Nuria Boj:
Actually, so how it happened, actually, Jorge reached out to me, and it was kind of a surprise because I never thought he would have noticed my work to start with. But, and I'm not entirely sure when they started seeing my projects and work. I actually took one of his classes online. So, my thinking is that probably there, I started getting into the radar.
Nuria Boj:
But yeah. So, they contacted me to see if I was available for their second project for Webflow. And the funny thing about that is actually that they referenced one of my early illustrations where I used gradients. It was like a retro TV illustration that I created while I was a junior motion designer and I was just getting started into illustration.
Nuria Boj:
So, I think that I'm really happy that I created that illustration because down the line, two to three years later, it got me to collaborate with some of my heroes in animation. So, it's quite an interesting jump.
Joey Korenman:
That's so interesting. So, Jorge contacted you because somehow your work got on his radar. Was that the first sort of big studio client that you worked with, or had you been freelancing for other studios by that point?
Nuria Boj:
So, I think prior to that, I was freelancing for smaller studios here in Scotland. I got to collaborate as well with Snowday studio, which is in New York. But prior to that, I didn't have that much experience with clients at the time because I was just getting started. It was actually ... The Ordinary Folk reached out to me probably this same time last year. And ever since then, I've just been really fortunate to get to collaborate with them on various projects. And at the same time, I've just been able to grow so much as an artist as well from collaborating with so talented professionals.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. Well, what I say a lot on this podcast is if your work is good, then it doesn't take much to get people to pay you to do work, and your work is amazing. So at this point, how much time and effort do you have to spend finding work? Are you just sort of ... You have an Instagram account, Behance, and Dribble, and Vimeo. Is most of the work just coming in through those channels?
Nuria Boj:
So, most of the work ... I think people visualize more of my work on platforms like Instagram. Besides that, I think also the chance to collaborate with Ordinary Folk put me in the spot for other studios to notice my work as well. So, I'm really grateful for that. So primarily, I get just email requests for my availability, or the good thing now is that, because I have representation, I can fill those blank pages of time with maybe directed client projects.
Nuria Boj:
So, I think it's a really good combination. Or other times, I would just reach out to clients or studios that I worked with in the past and see if they have something where I could be of help.
Joey Korenman:
That's it. That's exactly how you position it. Anything I can help you with? It's not hire me. It's can I help you.
Nuria Boj:
Exactly.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah, exactly. So, have you ever run into studios ... Because the thing is, if you're doing illustration and you're doing boards, it is much easier to work remotely than if you're doing, say, 3D animation. It's, of course, possible. But I'm curious. Have you ever run into clients that wanted to work with you, but you wanted there, right? And so, it doesn't work out, or is basically everybody comfortable with you being in Scotland and working remotely?
Nuria Boj:
So, I think everyone's just really comfortable with hiring people remotely. I think actually being in the shop kind of mentality happens more often here in the UK, I think. Because of the distance as well, they kind of you want you to be in-house if possible. But other than that, also because most of my work comes from the US and Canada, I find that they are very comfortable and trusting in my ability to work remotely.
Nuria Boj:
And as long as you keep open communication all the time and they know what you're doing, there's no reason for not being able to work remotely, in my opinion.
Joey Korenman:
So, let's talk about a specific case. So when you were working on the Manifesto video, Ordinary Folk is in Vancouver, in Canada, and I, the client, am in Florida, and you're in Edinburgh, and Jay Quercia ... I'm not exactly sure where he lives. I think he was in Portland for a while. The team's all over the place. The director, Jorge, is in Vancouver. How did that work, right? You're in different time zones, and working on different pieces. Can you just kind of describe what that process looks like now?
Nuria Boj:
Sure. So, actually I find that they are just so well-organized, and they always try to, once they know that I'm working with them ... Because I work from the UK, I am, I don't know, eight hours or so working further than them. So when I finish work, I will just have everything completed and for review when they come up. So I guess from their end, it works quite well. But, they always try to have something assigned to me, and I always know what I'm working on.
Nuria Boj:
And as soon as I finish something, I know that I have to jump to the next thing. So, it's always this really efficient way of collaboration. And I guess when they know that I'm sleeping, it's not like I can communicate much. But other than that, I think just keeping this organization going and having assigned each of us what we do and move forward to, it's the way that these kinds of collaborations work.
Joey Korenman:
And what were the tools that were used on that project? I know, from my perspective, Ordinary Folk was using Dropbox Paper, I think, as sort of a little bit of a project management tool, but really also just a way of presenting information to us. And it was actually very clever. I thought this is really smart. I'm going to steal this. So, what other tools were being used to keep everybody in sync?
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. So, the thing that I didn't know that you could use actually, and I learned when I started working with them, was actually using Excel sheets for each frame. So, you will see this step in the process that was the illustration stage, and you could also see the animation stage if it wasn't in process, so if it was completed. So, everyone had a broad view of how the project was being delivered and completed along the way.
Nuria Boj:
And how they did it, it was actually they created these Excel sheets in Drive, I think it was, and they would just assign the frames that you had to do. So, you kind of always had work to follow after you completed something, and then you just have to mark as complete. And of course, they used also Paper for Dropbox, and Note, I think.
Joey Korenman:
And was the team communicating in real-time too, like over Slack or something like that?
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. So, they used Slack, the Slack channels.
Joey Korenman:
Got it. That's really interesting. I love hearing how different studios do it. And it sounds like on that project at least, it was not an overly complicated setup. You're using Excel spreadsheets to track the different shots and the states they're in, and then it's just good communication. They have a very good producer, Stefan, too, so I'm sure that helps.
Nuria Boj:
Yeah.
Joey Korenman:
And so when you work with ... Have you ever had challenges, just being far away, being eight hours ahead of, say, the West Coast in the United States? Yeah. It's got to be eight hours difference from you, at least. Has that ever been a challenge, or have you just gotten used to working that way?
Nuria Boj:
Well, I guess the challenge is to being able to turn off sometimes, of course, because I know that sometimes it will depend on my work or what I deliver, and I will kind of have to keep track of anything that needs quick action from me. So if, for example, there is something that needs to be quickly changed, I'm most of the time happy to just jump onto it and deliver it because I know that I will delay the process.
Nuria Boj:
But when you're working with other designers, it's easier because then they can just take that load out of you. But, I find that, one, I'm actually quite a workaholic person, so I kind of have to watch that.
Joey Korenman:
Yes. Sneaks up on you.
Nuria Boj:
But other than that, I guess the only challenge for me is disconnecting sometimes, or not checking Slack channel at nine PM in the afternoon, at night. It's putting that barrier of stop working. But, I think, with time and experience, I'm kind of managing that better. And everyone, they respect my time either way. So, it's probably more me than anyone else.
Joey Korenman:
Yeah. That's a challenge. And especially right now, everybody has more or less been working remotely for a while. That's something that we've struggled with too at School of Motion. We're fully remote. We have 20 full time people, all in the US, but ranging from Hawaii all the way over to the East Coast, which is a six hour time difference. And yeah. You have to be very careful not to ask a question in a public channel at three PM your time, but nine PM someone else's time.
Joey Korenman:
So, it's something we're all getting used to. So, the last thing I want to ask you, Nuria, is ... So first of all, what year did you graduate from school in Edinburgh?
Nuria Boj:
So, I graduated in 2016.
Joey Korenman:
2016.
Nuria Boj:
I believe.
Joey Korenman:
Got it. Okay.
Nuria Boj:
Yeah.
Joey Korenman:
So four years. So, you've been in the professional world of motion design and repped illustrator and doing all these things for four years, which is not a long amount of time to have the diverse portfolio, the amazing skills, and really cool client roster that you have. And I always like to try and pull out, like what are the things you did that worked to help you get here? So, there's a lot of people listening that are a few years behind you, and they're looking up to you, and they're looking at the path you took, and they're thinking, "How can I get to where Nuria got?"
Joey Korenman:
So, what are some things that you learned along the way to get here that you wish you'd known a little bit earlier, that might have helped you avoid a speed bump or something like that?
Nuria Boj:
Yeah. So, I think it would have been really great to actually have been able to know more about the business side of the industry itself, because I think it's such a valuable thing to learn just before you go into the motion industry, or do go freelance. So, probably that's one of the things that I wish I would have known when I started out. But besides that, I think it's about putting a lot of effort in observation and sharing your work.
Nuria Boj:
When you start, especially if you're working in illustration, you kind of have to keep in mind that you're working on the foundations that other people have laid out before you, and you have to spend time diving deeper and diverting from those foundations and putting time into creating your own work. But I think if you put enough time, people will see your work, and I'm sure you will get to work with amazing, talented professionals at the end of your career. You know?