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Alabama to New York: Abbie Bacilla's Motion Journey

By School of Motion
After EffectsIllustratorPhotoshop

From Alabama to The Big Apple, Motion Designer Abbie Bacilla discusses getting into animation, the importance of strong principles, and networking with other artists.

We love seeing School of Motion Alumni creating amazing art and working at super cool places. Abbie Bacilla is an in-house motion graphics animator at who's been creating some amazingly fun content! On top of working in-house she takes on personal projects and is active in the art community.
We were mesmerized her art work as we compiled this article. There's a clever humor to her personal pieces, and the illustrative work is top notch. We hope you are as inspired as we were getting to know Abbie!

Get to Know Abbie Bacilla

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Pan Pan Doo Snippet
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Early Stages of Pan Pan Doo
SOM: Tell us about yourself, how did you become a motion designer?
Abbie: From when I was little I've always been super artsy. My parents encouraged my artistic endeavors early on, but by the time college hit, I had to prove to them that I could do art full-time.
I enrolled at Spring Hill College with a bachelor's in graphic design, where I met established motion designer and incredible mentor Alec Lewis (shoutout!). He was teaching a class in After Effects my junior year in 2016. And it was all mograph, all the time from there.
It just clicked.
Animated on Abbie's flight back from Paris!
SOM: What types of projects are you drawn to? 
Abbie: I'm growing to love really fast-paced and music-driven projects, like the ads I've been creating for Animating titles and UI on a simple backdrop is always a fun challenge for me.
Motion design work for by Abbie
SOM: Your website says you have "a crippling addiction to illustration." What's that about :D
Abbie: Just my morbid sense of humor, haha. I've always loved illustrating; I wanted to be a character designer for a hot minute in school.
Every time I feel burnout doing professional work, I feel like I can always turn back to doodling silly characters to remind myself not to take life so seriously.
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A process breakdown of motion graphics animation
SOM: You're active in D&D, according to your site, how does this hobby of adventure impact your creativity?
Abbie: Admittedly, I haven't played Dungeons and Dragons in so long! I miss it! I used to be a huge theater kid in high school and college, so character acting and improv kind of translated into D&D.
It's really all about you and your friends solving problems while being entertaining and fun in the process, so it stretches the collaboration and creativity muscles quite a bit. 
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Illustrations found on Abbie's awesome Instagram!

Abbie's Personal Journey

SOM: You moved from Alabama to New York City to work for! What was that all about?
Abbie: I knew I didn't want to be in the south forever – I had this really grand idea of moving to a big city with a bigger creative community. When you're one of the three people in your town that knows After Effects, you start getting a little creatively stumped.
I had a three-year plan to develop my reel, find motion design work in some larger city like Austin or Chicago, and move. happened to discover me through School of Motion way before I felt ready to be discovered. I never thought in a million years I'd live in New York, just because the idea of it seemed so vast and scary, but here I am. 
SOM: How has that job been? Culture shock? Imposter Syndrome? Better Burritos?
Abbie: I grew up in Houston before living in 'Bama, so my standards for burritos are a little high ;). 
Admittedly, starting at, the initial imposter syndrome was crippling. I went from being a junior designer at an ad agency to THE motion designer for the marketing team of a multi-million dollar startup.
Animation for Southern Comfort
My coworkers and superiors at are so incredibly skilled, sharp, and multifaceted, so on day one, I felt like some young punk from the south who barely knew her way around her hotkeys.
I remember thinking, "Was this a mistake? Am I going to be fired in a few months? Did they hire me because I'm a woman and they needed to fill a diversity quota?"
Fortunately, none of those were the case. The people at were so welcoming and genuine, not just on my team, but throughout the whole company. I can talk, joke, and have in-depth conversations with the engineering team, the growth team, my bosses, etc.
As long as you get your work done and are open to collaboration and growth, the rest of the team will be right there with you. Not every motion designer is going to have this experience working in-house or at an agency, so I feel incredibly lucky. 
Also the subway system wasn't as hard to figure out as I thought it would be, so that was a nice surprise. 

Abbie's Art Style

SOM: How would you define your work?
Abbie: My work is honestly all over the place, especially this year.
I don't like marrying myself to a certain type of style, despite my portfolio being really 2D and character-driven. I continue to do a bit of character work for personal projects, but I've been trying to get my hands on more conceptual 3D stuff as well.
What I do for personal projects looks almost nothing like what I do for, and I love that because I get to exercise my creative muscles in different, fresher directions.
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Character Animation by Abbie Bacilla
I like to think of myself as the George Miller type of creative: with the right team and vision, I'm down for working on either Happy Feet or Mad Max.  
SOM: Your artwork seems to carry a light hint of sophisticated wit. Do you have any inspiration sources?
Abbie: Thanks! I love comedy, a lot of my friends back in Alabama were comedians – two of which I designed/animated their poster for when they went on tour last year! There's something about comedy that translates so well to motion design. I think it's the importance of good timing, and the challenge of being as attention-grabbing as possible (without being obnoxious). Shows like Broad City, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Rick and Morty do an amazing job at this.
As for actual visual and motion design specifically, I mainly get inspiration from my Dribbble, Instagram, and Vimeo feeds, which I'm trying to change. I'm making it a priority in 2019 to be more aware of my sources of inspiration so I can hone on my illustration and mograph styles more – "Steal like an artist" and all that.
Abbie Bacilla personal animation of a crowded train in hell

Abbie's School of Motion Experience

SOM: How did your time in our courses impact your motion design style?
Abbie: So far, I've taken Animation Bootcamp and C4D Basecamp. Both have really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what quality, focused animation and design could bring to a commercial, a TV show, an explainer, whatever it is.
It also gave me the tools to see what specifically can be improved/pulled back on; every time I get a critique on my animation at work, it's so much easier to say "oh, it's because that speed curve is too sharp" or "this needs more dramatic secondary animation to draw the eye".
Abbie Bacilla's Animation Bootcamp Circle Society exercise
Abbie: The networking aspect of School of Motion was also life-changing; meeting other people who are also serious about their motion careers will never not be valuable.
The best thing you can do for your motion graphics career is making motion designer friends!
Abbie Bacilla's Animation Bootcamp Nüdl exercise
SOM: Do you have any advice for someone going through our courses?
Abbie: Get involved. Push yourself to put in that extra hour in the graph editor. Learn those hotkeys. Go on Vimeo and look at some tasty frames. Go on the SoM class Facebook group every day and make some friends.
Critique peoples' work as thoroughly as you can. But also don't beat yourself up if you can't keep up, sometimes things are just hard, and that's okay.
Abbie Bacilla's Animation Bootcamp Reel
SOM: How can people see more of your work?
Abbie: You can find me on!
For casual stuff and memes, my Twitter's @abbie_k and my Instagram's @abbiebacilla.
You can also shoot me an email at [email protected] if you're old school like that.