We sit down with Art Director Mitch Myers to discuss the importance of branding, perceived value, and consistency in Motion Design.
When is the last time you though of yourself as a brand? Whether we like it or not, the perceived value of your Motion Design brand is just as important as the quality of your work when it comes to bringing home the bacon, and our guest today is a branding genius.
Mitch Myers is an art director, Motion Designer, and artistic celebrity in the Motion Design world. Mitch has done work for Universal, Gopro, the NFL, and Southwest Airlines.
You’ve probably seen Mitch Myer’s work close to a dozen times every single day over the last few years. He, along with Jorge Estrada, designed the Splash Screen for After Effects CC 2018 (and we’re still not 100% sure that he’s not an illuminati member).
On this podcast episode, Mitch talks about your worth and value as a Motion Designer, how to build a strong brand, and why consistency is important to aspiring MoGraph artists. Get your notepad out. You’re going to want to take a lot of notes.
MITCH MEYERS INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
Joey: If you're putting this much thought into your own website and the way you present yourself and a client is going to recognize, they're going to put a lot of thought in reasoning the type of work they're going to do for us. It's going to be worth the amount that they're asking for. It just puts that a little more professionalism in it too, as long as you're consistent then I think you're golden.
If you've ever opened After Effects version CC2018, then you have seen Mitch Myers work. He partnered up with our brilliant friend Joje Estrada AKA JR Canest to create the splash screen for that version of after effects. It was his first freelance job. Now how in the heck did an opportunity like that fall in his lap? Well, it turns out Mitch has done a lot of things right when it comes to building a personal brand, doing outreach and having a strong online presence. He's also really talented, which helps.
In this episode, I talk to Mitch about how he developed the look that his work has, which is really cool and [filmic 00:01:23]. Also, about his approach to his career. There are tons of actionable tips in this episode and I think this is one where you may want to take some notes. Now, before we meet Mitch, let's hear from one of our incredible alumni.
Robert: My name is Robert [Niani 00:01:39] from Columbus Ohio and I've taken the character animation boot camp in Rigging Academy. What I've gotten out of these classes is a really great foundation for character animation. I used to dread projects that had aspects of character animation in them and now it's become my favorite part of a project. Anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of character animation and how to do it in a way that makes sense, you need to take Character Animation Bootcamp. If you want to learn how to create the rigs that they use inside the After Effects, then you definitely need to check out Rigging Academy. Take both of them, trust me, it's worth it. My name is Robert [Niani 00:02:18] and I'm a School of Motion graduate.
Joey: Mitch, dude it is awesome to have you on the podcast. Thank you so much for taking the time, dude.
Mitch: No problem, it's good to be here.
Joey: So the first thing I'm going to ask you about is actually I kind of ask everybody this whose work I think is beautiful and well-designed. Where did you develop your eye for this stuff? Your work especially it's got, I tend to describe stuff like this as [filmnic 00:02:48]. It's got a lot of glows and textures and it's obviously 3D and you kind of have an eye almost like a cinematographer. I'm curious, when did you develop that and how?
Mitch: Yeah. So I think it's kind of part of a larger process because I started out as just kind of a normal motion designer. I did a lot of 2D stuff, some 3D things. In the beginning of my career, it's more of trying to develop my career as an artist, more so than trying to develop your look and style and stuff like that. So It wasn't until I kind of found my place in 3D and I started to kind of find out how fun it was for me. It was very natural and it felt like my place to be.
So I started working really heavily in 3D and knew that I wanted my work to kind of represent what I wanted to do, what kind of work I wanted to get from an agency that would hire me. I wasn't really picturing going freelance at the time anyway. So going into this 3D world and kind of whenever I had downtime it was always sitting in cinema, especially when I was at my last agency. It's every lunch break I try to create something cool, just to kind of get more in tune with my programs in 3D, which is Cinema 49 primarily. Kind of test the waters to see if maybe this is the more of the right path. Maybe I can be more of a specialist. When you become a specialist you almost need that look and something that kind of sets you apart. Since you're going after a specific thing, you're not going to be hired for a bunch of different types of looks and elements and things like that. So you need to really set yourself apart.
That's when I really ... I think I started developing an eye for just cinematography while just studying film theory, which is something I like to do for fun. I'm kind of a dude who will watch a movie and just totally zone out on just reasoning on why they chose specific lights and camera moves. The way they edited the film and stuff like that. It just always intrigues me. So I think just doing that on my downtime, not even noticing that it would translate to my 3D work. It kind of did naturally. Also, with that kind of study kind of integrating itself into my work as well as me trying to find my style. I think those two kind of combined and it helped me develop this sort of design and look that people can kind of recognize. It was almost organic how that came to be.
Joey: Cool. So you just said a bunch of things I kind of want to dig into. The first thing that you said that was really interesting. Was you said that you sort of got your motion design career going first, that was phase one. Then you figured out what your look and style was going to be. I think that's .. To me, that seems like a very smart way to do it. It's practical, sometimes as artists, we get really fixated on finding our voice and stuff like that. But as a practical matter, as someone who wants to paying their bills doing this, do you think that ... Would you recommend to other artists to do that way? To like don't worry about finding your voice just yet. First just get a job, get some experience. Give yourself a couple of years and then do that.
Mitch: Yeah, it's a lot easier to find your style and look whenever you aren't worrying about money as much or trying to find a job or just anything like that. It kind of morphed from me grinding to me just doing that artist kind of thing. Just kind of trying to put myself into my art and all of those kind of cheesy things. But it's much easier doing it the way I did, I think. I didn't really try to do it that way or have like a reasoning, it just kind of happens. I think I probably got really lucky that I was okay with doing it that way. That it kind of helped me stay on this path to get to where I wanted to be.
I always had big goals for my career but I didn't know how to get there. I just knew that I was going to get there eventually. So having that larger goal in mind, kind of helps you organically create this path to what you want.
Joey: I love it that you called it cheesy. That whole idea of put yourself into your art. But actually, it sounds like when I look at your work and I look at your portfolio, it has a look. You may already be at a point where people can sort of pick out something that Mitch has done. But it seems like that actually coming from something that you love, which is film theory and just the language of film in general. So that is practically what it means to put yourself into your work. It doesn't mean like Jim Carey, locking himself in a painting studio for a month and not eating and painting all day. It's actually just doing what you like and somehow that in this kind of weird esoteric way translates into your work.
So I want to ask you about the film theory because you said in my spare time, I like to study film theory. But what does that mean? Do you just watch movies and sort of reverse engineer them or do you read books, do you read websites? How do you actually grasp what's happening?
Mitch: Yes, that's a good question because I think a long time while I was doing that I didn't really notice that I was studying film theory. I was just studying what was interesting to me about film. It was always that kind of behind the scenes why and the reasoning behind doing certain things to get certain reactions or emotions from your audience. That was always really interesting because it's kind of like the magic behind it. So it kind of just developed out of me just doing that naturally when I watch films.
Then noticing that I was, this is film theory. This stuff actually I'm not making some of the stuff in head. This stuff actually has a reasoning. So from there going and trying to find whatever I could on film theory, which is kind of hard actually. If you Google film theory, there's a lot of different things that people consider film theory. So you kind of have to I guess pick and choose what you are actually interested in when it comes to film theory. At least, that's what I did, which would be more so lighting and camera moves and cut sequences and stuff like that.
Just kind of ways to tell a story without having any reaction. You don't even need to have a certain actor/actress in the scene. You can just tell a story just by the way you move a camera or light something or cut something, stuff like that. That's what's really magical to me. So that's what I naturally kind of studied. There's unfortunately, nothing I can really recommend to people if they want to find information on film theory. Just because I don't have that on hand, it's always kind of been an organic kind of study and research for me. But it's out there.
Joey: I know that I was going to recommend and unfortunately, it's not actually still going. But Every Frame of Painting was this YouTube channel that was I think probably the best example of somebody teaching film theory in a really digestible way. It actually makes a lot sense now that you gravitated towards 3D because if you're into cinematography and lighting and camera movement and things like that, that lends itself very well to 3D. It still lends itself to after effects too but it's more abstract, there's more of a one to one relationship. So that's really cool.
Yeah, I was going to ask you. You mentioned that you sort of fell in love with 3D and decided that's what you want to specialize in. Were there any other things about 3D that kind of pulled you away from the traditional MO Graphy After Effects thing?
Mitch: Yeah, I would say that the film theory part of it was pretty big in the decision just because it's a little more natural like you were saying in 3D. To kind of see your camera and your lights and set things up. Especially with these new render engines, you can set something up the same way you would practically and you will get the same results, which is fantastic. Especially when you are art directing and stuff like that. You can much more easily think of how it should be in your minds and translate that to 3D and you used to be able to.
So yeah, it's a little more just natural for me to be in that 3D kind of world. Just people ask me a lot, how to find your look and how does that come about, how do you get your own style? It's almost, there's no real kind of thing that you got to do in order to get that. But for me, it was everything that I would do for fun would be in Cinema 40 and doing 3D stuff. Everything that I made that I at least had like a passion to make and the reason that I kind of developed that look was these things that I was doing on my downtime. If you're basically making these things for fun and you're doing it constantly, that kind of develops in your look in general.
Being able to get the clients and make them money from the type of work that I would be doing on my downtime is kind of the golden ratio.
Joey: Right. What it reminds and we're going to get into this a little bit. But I want to say one of the things that I always kind of hop on when I talk to people about freelancing primarily but also just for being in this field in general. Is that if you want to get paid to do something, you first have to do it without getting paid. When you're messing around and doing these personal projects and stuff like that, that's the stuff you like to do. So if you want to get paid to do that, you better be good at it and do it enough that you'll do it for free for a while.
Mitch: Yes, very.
Joey: Okay, so before we get into that, I want to talk a little bit more about your background. So in LinkedIn, I saw you, you got a bachelor of fine arts from Devry, which is interesting. I didn't even know that they offered BFAs. For multimedia design and development. I'm just curious, what was that program like and what skills did you develop there?
Mitch: I think college at this point, at least from what I know about the industry now. It's kind of a good and bad thing for a lot of people I think. The good would be just college is the place to kind of gain connections and hopefully learn something.
Mitch: Hopefully, learn something. But it also costs so much money. So the school that I went to was not too great. I didn't really gain any sort of knowledge or anything really. I think half of my college career was taking prerequisites and stuff like that, they didn't have anything to do with design. It kind of felt to me I was paying for not a whole lot of anything. So I was developing my style and my craft and career and all that stuff much faster than what the college could kind of keep with anyway. Just because I'm incredibly motivated and determined to meet certain goals that I've set for myself for my career. That it might even be a situation where that I was just kind of outdoing myself and not really ... I was a little too far ahead I guess.
So my reasoning behind the college thing was it developed basically into let's get this piece of paper and then let's go find a good salary job and stick with something like that. Which now is funny that I'm freelance and not necessarily need that piece of paper anymore. But I think when it comes down to it when you look back on how you started your career and stuff like that, you wouldn't necessarily change anything. Just because the decisions I've made up to this point have gotten me to where I am now. So I can't really hop on college too much. But it just kind of one of those things I had to get through in order to make the types of decisions that I'm making now.
Joey: Right. I've got a lot of opinions about college, I've voiced them very strongly on this podcast. But I agree with you, there's no way to AB test your life and to know what would've happened had you not gone to college. Just instead stayed at home practicing, doing tutorials or reading books, whatever. But it's just interesting to hear that. So then my next question is, so where did your design chops come from? Looking especially your early work. If you go to Mitch's website right now, you're going to see a lot of really cool high-end 3D-looking stuff. It kind of feels like it was made by the same artist.
But then if you go back in time, if you Google Mitch a little bit, you find his Behance page maybe or his Vimeo page, you'll find a lot of stuff he did for the St. Louis Rams where it's way more traditional broadcast graphics kind of stuff. But the compositions are strong, the typography strong, you clearly have design chops. I'm curious where that came from if not from school.
Mitch: Yeah, I don't really know because I started designing while I was playing music. It was basically doing merch design on tour because a lot of the times on the road is really boring. You have two hours of real intense and then the rest of your time as a musician is very boring. So I don't know, maybe it's just from practice. Doing things in repetition is probably the best way to get good at something and maybe it's a little bit of talent. I don't know, it's been a process of kind of finding myself in artistic field.
Whether it be music or design or motion design or visual effects, whatever. It's kind of me from the beginning of my professional career in anything to where I am now. It's been a constant kind of molding of myself. Changing directions and finding out what really makes me happy. That's been kind of the reasoning why I've made any decision in my life. I'm the type of person to make quick decisions no matter kind of how daunting they may be. If I feel it in my gut, that it's the right one to make. So I think just through the molding of myself and my career, I've kind of taken what I've found out that I've needed to excel at. Worked incredibly hard on trying to actually be at the caliber that I want myself to be in.
So I think a lot of the design, at least to where it's gotten to is just basically me really focusing on being the person that can make something look really good.
Joey: So we should just say really quick for people listening that don't know but in a previous life, Mitch was in a ... Was it soft rock band, like a jazz band-ish sort of? Actually, how many strings did you guitar have, did it have six or seven? I guess that's the real question here.
Mitch: Yes, it had six. It was before the seven-string [Giffard 00:21:02] that is going on at the moment. But yeah, it's good old metalcore stuff like [Azledying 00:21:11]. You know the 2008 situation where metal core got really big and every city scene was awesome?
Joey: I was there.
Mitch: [inaudible 00:21:22] so insane, it was so good. But yeah, that was my past life, it was fun.
Joey: That's awesome. I hope that [J Fad 00:21:29] never goes away.
Mitch: I know, it's my jam right now. It's sweet.
Joey: Anyway, what I want to ask you about was so I think you and I have probably a similar mindset. When I was starting out, I was super ambitious and very driven. I've always been fairly disciplined and able to practice things like that. But my work didn't really start to get better until I had some kind of feedback mechanism. Where I could have somebody tell me that's good or that's not good or at least have a way to compare and develop some taste really. So I'm just curious, how that happened for you or if maybe you didn't need that. Maybe you just got like an aptitude for it.
Mitch: Yeah, I think a lot of the time when I was trying to be good, it was me looking at other people's work and just feeling like crap. It a lot of the times, I love my work and five minutes later it's like pure trash to me. So it's hard to kind of keep motivation when your mindset is like that. But also if you've kind of flipped that around and think, okay my work is not too great. At least in the grand scheme of things when I compare myself to what I consider the best. It's almost a motivating factor. I always have this thing in my head and it's about me I guess 'manifesting' my future. It's basically I have already gotten to where I want to be in my career. I just haven't gotten to the point in time yet.
So I'm already feeling great about my work. How people come to me and saying like, my work inspires them. It's like blah, blah, blah. I just I'm not at that point in time. So it's kind of a motivating factor that things will be the way I want them to be and my goals would be met. I just have to do whatever I have to in order to get there. So I think it was mainly seeing how under par I was but being motivated in the fact that there are so high-level of design and craft that I could possibly reach. That it's really exciting. I was really sure where my career is going to go that point anyway. So it's kind of this very fluid make decisions when they need to be made and adapt as quickly as possible. Just keep myself happy and my mindset correct.
Once you're a happy individual, I feel like your art can excel in a certain degree that you wouldn't be able to if you're depressed. Which is funny because everyone thinks of artists as kind of that depressing figure. In the darkroom that putting their emotions into their art and stuff. I don't know, for me, it's always been about happiness and feeling successful and motivated. It kind of translates to being in that positive mindset when I make something. It's just excitement nonstop. So it's awesome.
Joey: Yeah. You're making me think, I want to call out your mindset there. I think that's really, really, really important for people to hear, especially if you're starting out in the industry. Motion design like a lot of fields is one where you're going to suck for a while. It's just a very hard thing to get good at and it just takes time and it takes ... You have to get all those bad designs out of your brain so that finally you can start to get some good ones in there. A lot of times that burns people out, people leave the industry just kind of settle or whatever.
But the way that you're kind of describing your mindset, it's almost like you're pre-visualizing the day when your expectations of yourself will much reality. You're just closing that gap slowly. It's really the way to stay motivated because there's like a saying. I'm not sure if it's actually like a compliment or not but I heard someone once said that Americans are kind of unique because everybody is just a millionaire in waiting or something like that. In some cultures, that's not the way people think but that is a very ambitious uniquely sort of American way of looking at things. I'm already successful in the future, I just have to wait long enough until I get there. I don't know, it seems to have worked really well for you.
Mitch: Yeah, I think if you have these bigger goals in mind for yourself, it's like you can really manifest your future, which is a weird way to say that. It almost sounds like-
Joey: Little [inaudible 00:26:55]
Mitch: [inaudible 00:26:56] yeah, for real. But it's true and it has real legit grounding in the actual I guess step by step kind of situation. If you do have those bigger goals and you do believe that you are going to reach those, you'll make actions and decisions in your daily life that subconsciously you will be making because of that bigger goal. You might not notice in that certain time or something like that. But you look back on it and you'll be like, man, I made so many little decisions that have played a part in this bigger kind of grand scheme of things that I've had for my life. It's kind of ended up to where I am now.
It's weird that you can kind of think in that kind of esoteric kind of mindset. But then you look back on and there's real weight to it and actually, it has made kind of a difference.
Joey: Yeah, I totally agree with all that stuff. It's interesting if you talk to people who've had success in their field, in any field. A lot of times you hear these kinds of ideas. This is something that I think about a lot because part of my job, most of my job is trying to help people get from where they are to where they want to be. A lot of times it's just a matter of practice and time. So the key is how do you keep someone motivated enough to just put in the work? If they put in the work, they will get what they're after, it's a matter of time. Having a positive outlook on those things, I think that's really the key to the whole thing.
So let's talk a little bit about your more recent work. So earlier in your career, you mentioned you had a full-time job, you were working. You called them agencies. But was it like an ad agency, like a studio, what actually was the company you were working for?
Mitch: Yeah, so my first job, first paying salary gig was a motion designer for the St. Louis Rams. We were doing a lot of that online website type of video work. We did some documentary-style stuff for NFL Network and then we were doing the graphics and visuals for the stadium. It was kind of a good well-rounded type of job. I was doing a lot of different things. The people I was working with were super awesome and I was allowed to kind of put my flavor into it. Even though back then was my first job and I didn't have a lot of flavor. But I was at least to be able to kind of spread my little wings a little bit and start to kind of think in different ways and stuff.
Then after that, I was I want to be an agency now. I never knew I was going to do sports stuff. I'm not a huge sports guy. It was just a good introductory to this type of industry I think. So I was like, okay, I want to go to an agency, I want to work with different clients every day. I want to see more about what this whole thing is about. I had the decision to either go to LA and stay with the Rams or go to Chicago. I had a potential position with the guys up at the [Lovayathan 00:30:37]. They're an awesome agency, so I was really jazzed about that. Or to stay in St. Louis and try to find something here.
It came down to ultimately to me having a wife and a little baby girl at that time. We were a bit grounded here. It even got up to the point where we were even in Chicago, looking at houses. Really a second away from making the decision when I got the call from an agency down here called the Vidzu Media and they were interested in me coming in and working for them. So we decided to stay in St. Louis and go with Vidzu and it was a really cool place to work with. We're working with large clients. We had some pretty big ones like Sams and Southwest, stuff like that.
It was a pretty cool time and I was there for I think a year and a half, almost two years when I decided that this still wasn't necessarily right for me. I was having a good time, I was doing decently cool work but I just didn't feel complete. So that's when the freelance thing sort of popped into my head. Maybe you should do this. Is it going be okay? I'm going to totally ruin my career or even taste for this type of thing? Then even it was scarier, I was like, what if I don't like freelance either? What am I going to do? I'm not completely satisfied with anything, I'm going to have to rethink this whole situation.
So I was definitely scared of almost any possibility going freelance. But like I said, I have these goals. So I was like, hey, I still want to complete these. It seems like the route has kind of presented itself to me in this fashion so I just have to go for it. Then getting the all clear from my wife, I was like, okay, I'm just going to do it now. She says it's okay and she has faith in me that I'll make it successful. I was like, whatever let's do it. It's been a crazy, it hasn't been a year yet that I've been freelancing.
Joey: That's amazing frankly. It hasn't even been a year and you've got the work on your portfolio that you have. So let's talk about that. So looking at your old work for the Rams and some of the other things I think I saw maybe on your Vimeo page or something. They're very, very different from what you're doing now. You can't tell, you couldn't look at a piece you've done a month ago and a piece that you did for Rams and tell that it was you, right?
Joey: It's like you've totally just changed the type of look that you're achieving. I'm curious if that progression because to me from the outside, it looks like a 180 degree U-turn. I'm sure it was more gradual from your perspective. But did you have to consciously makes this choice and switch gears and say, okay I'm not doing that anymore? I'm freelance, I don't want to be doing that kind of stuff, I want to be doing this kind of stuff and just close that door?
Mitch: Yeah, I think it was very unconscious up to a point. It was very recent that this kind of look presented itself. It was while I was working with the agency, Vidzu and we were doing a lot of corporate-type work, which is really cool. But I have that side of me that kind of needed this artistic outlet that I wasn't necessarily getting with the clients that we had. So that's when I started doing things on my downtime much more than I used to. Doing random renders and things like that on my lunch break. Just testing different scenarios with lighting and different materials, stuff like that. I was really getting jazzed and excited about the possibilities that were kind of presenting itself to me.
I organically landed on the type of look that I have developed for myself up to today. Just from sheer just having fun and always going back to that type of look just kind of organically happen. Then it got to the point where I consciously noticed it and I was like, okay, I'm not doing this type of work here but I want to do this work. This is fun, I'm having a lot of fun with this and I want to be in Cinema 40 as much as possible. I want to be like a 3D dude. I think that was part of the reason too that I went freelancer. At least my decision was how am I going to do this? How am I going to make sure that I'm doing the type of work that I want?
The agency that I was at was awesome because they were totally excited about what I was creating and they wanted to be that foundation for me. Get the type of clients that I wanted to have and stuff. It was pretty amazing, I don't think I will ever find that in any other agency that I probably would've been at. But in doing that, it still felt like I needed full control to be able to make the really quick decisions that I felt I needed to make to be a specialist instead of a Jack of all trades. I really needed to set myself apart in order to be successful on that.
So that was that part of that jump too. It was like okay, now I'm free to either fail or be successful so let's just do it. We're just going to see what people think basically.
Joey: That's exactly what happened to me the first time that I went freelance. I had a very supportive boss, I was an editor at the time but I was doing a lot of after effects in addition to editing. I told them I want to focus on motion graphics, this is what I want to do. He was super supportive and tried his best to get more work like that. But in the end, if it was an editing job, that's what I was doing, I had to do it. So that's something that I talk about a lot too. Is that when you're on staff, it can be an amazing situation but you don't have control. That's just one of the things you give up being on staff.
So your portfolio, actually your entire brand really. Let me take a step backwards. A lot of freelancers if I go to their site and when I was freelancer I was certainly guilty of this too. You go to my site and it would say Joey Korenman, motion designer and you'd have little thumbnails of all my work. It looked very clean and very professional but there was really not a brand. There was not really much personality, nothing to differentiate it. Yours on the hand, has this very strong brand. You've got your logo and a color pallet and even the tone of the copy on your page. It sort of matches the way you present yourself in real life, on podcasts, in videos I've seen you in. I think when I was doing the research, it struck me it kind of feels like a band's website. Almost more than a motion site is. I'm curious, how did you arrive at this? Did you think I have to come up with a brand and sit down and brainstorm? How did you arrive at this look and feel?
Mitch: Yeah, so I've always had a huge passion for branding. It's probably been even more so than the film theory side of my work. It's because of the same thing, it's like that magic behind the art and with advertising and branding and stuff. It's manipulative. It can either be for good or bad I guess but just the fact that it can be is really interesting to me. So I've always studied advertising and branding and why things work and why other things don't and stuff like that. So when I got the chance to do it myself for myself, that was incredibly exciting. I'm like that self-promoter and the guy who enjoys talking about himself and his work and stuff. I think it is very exciting to me.
So I was like, sweet, let's make this brand badass. So looking at the type of style that I developed during that time, I made the brand that I have now very recently too. I've always had a logo for myself but it's just a logo. It wasn't even the one that I have today. I did a little refresher on it. If you look down through, I think probably my Instagram would be the best place you'll see that the logo changed a certain date on the photos. That's when I was in the process of really solidifying how I wanted people to view me as an artist and a professional.
It got so granule to where it's like I wanted people to see a certain color and think of me. It didn't even have to be a certain style like 3D render or anything. I just wanted it to be very organic that I would pop in people's heads. I knew that was going to be a thing that would at least contribute to my success. At that point going freelance and being nervous about it, I was like, I'm going to do whatever I could possibly can. To make sure that I can be some sort of a stand out artist in this kind of huge pool of other artists that are trying to make money.
So I think when developing the type of brand that I was, I was being very picky and very ... I had a reason behind every sort of decision I was making. Yeah, it helped quite a bit I think and I think it's helped me to kind of put myself as more than just an artist but an actual brand. That people can either relate to or enjoy following or anything like that. Hopefully, like it continues to develop itself into something cool.
Joey: Yeah, it's definitely unique and it feels polished, it feels personal. I want to talk about when I say branding I think a lot of times people think of the logo and maybe the color pallet and stuff like that. But really your brand is like a lot more than that. I think it really trickles down even to like the way you describe things on your website. On your about page, for example, you had a section where sort of your bio. There's kind of this confidence, I think I used the word swagger to describe it. I think that there was a quote in your page that said, I also have garnered a pretty legit following. Just typing that out and being cool with potential clients reading that that says a lot about the type of brand that you're trying to build.
I want to ask you specifically about that confidence and that swagger. Do you think that is something that every artist should do, just be sort of be very bold with the way they speak? Is that just something that you do because it fits your personality?
Mitch: Yeah, I think it definitely fits my personality. I'm very laid back and I just want to have fun. That's why I'm in this field. But also I think it obviously works in larger brands, it's crazy but they're just now figuring this out. To be very genuine and put your type of style and character into everything you do. It just helps you connect with the audience, much more than just having a stale kind of corporate situation. Thinking about that, it gets really down to how I write Emails and how I talk to my clients and the way I send invoices. Literally, everything has branding in mind for me. Not only does it create something that people can fall back on and relate to and recognize. But it also is a good way to kind of present yourself as more than just an artist but an actual ...
If you're putting this much thought into your own website and the way you present yourself, then the client's going to recognize, they're going to put a lot of thought in reasoning behind the type of work that they're going to do for us. It's going to be worth the amount that they're asking for, that his rate is. It just puts that a little bit more professionalism in it too. Even though you're being a little bit more I guess laid back in how you're presenting yourself. As long as you're consistent, then I think you're golden.
Joey: Yeah. I want to ask you about it. Your brand and everything it's red, it's dark, it's a little bit edgy, it's super confident and all that kind of stuff. Looking at your work, I see you did stuff for the Glitch Mob. I'm sure that attracts a certain type of client too but I also I would imagine that might turn some other clients off. I don't know if a deodorant company, I'm trying to think of some sort of safe company was looking for an artist and they saw your site. They might think this guy is too edgy even though, of course, you're perfectly capable of doing that work too. I'm curious if does that bother you at all? Is that okay, that you might actually be turning some potential clients away by having such a strong brand?
Mitch: Totally. That's totally cool with me. I think I've developed myself into the type of artist that has a certain look and feel and stuff like that and I've done for a reason. That being to get the types of clients that I want. I want to get those types of clients in a fashion that makes me enough money to live but also I have fun doing every project almost. Since going freelance, I haven't had one bad project, they've all been incredibly fun. I think that's a testament to the way I've developed my brand. I don't have to send an Email to be like, you're the type of client I want. They can go to my website and recognize that they're the type of client that I would want, which makes it easier on me.
Joey: That's really, really smart. It reminds me, one of the people I follow is named Seth Godin, his kind of like this business marketing genius. A lot of what he talks about is this idea that large companies and large brands they have to please everybody. So that's what it waters it down but there's so much work out there. So even as a motion designers, specializing in 3D and even like a certain look, there is still so much work out there that you can have this very kind of niche-filling brand that might turn some clients off and still get the work that you want. I love that it's bringing you the work you want and you're not having to slam it as much as some other motion designers have to.
Mitch: Totally. You can think about it like car brands almost. Ford and Chrysler and things like that, they kind of appeal to everyone. They have a car for almost for everybody. But if you look at like Lambo, it's the 1% who can have one but everybody knows how badass Lambos are.
Joey: Right. Yeah, now that makes a lot of sense. So I want to talk a little about social media. It's interesting when I hear motions designers talk about how social media is like a real successful channel for them to get work. When I was freelance, it wasn't even that long ago. I think it might have been like four years ago, was my last freelance gig or something like that. It wasn't that easy to get booked from social media. You still had to do a lot of outreach and stuff unless you were amazing unless you're Joje.
Joey: But now, it seems like everybody is doing it. Some I'm curious if you could talk a little about how social media has actually helped your success.
Mitch: Totally. It's been pretty incredible. Most of my clients come in through Email. I don't get a lot of clients, giving me an Instagram DM or anything, it's not to that point. But there's been a lot of clients who have mentioned my Instagram before they have mentioned my website, which is funny. I think I'm incredibly glad that I've put the investment towards social media and recognized that's going to be a big part of my growth as an artist. As social media kind of grows in society. Putting a lot of time to make sure that I will be successful in the social media front.
It's helped a ton just being able to be in a ton of different locations for people to see. Is one of the obvious parts about advertising. Especially just advertising and marketing yourself as being in as many places as possible so people see you wherever they turn. Social media has easily helped with that, just having Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn even. Tons of different stuff where people can be scrolling around and see your work. Go somewhere else and scroll around and see your work again. You're always popping up. Tons of clients have just been like, hey our creative director has been following you on Instagram for a while and your style is perfect for us. Let's do something.
So I think if you are a motion designer, visual effects artist or editor of whatever. Any sort of field where you're trying to get people to pay you for your craft, utilize social media as much as possible. You don't have to hound people or promote really or be one of those serial, guerrilla marketers that's just trying to hound people for work. You can just be present on all of these social media things. If your work is good and people recognize, then they're like it's really organic.
Joey: Yeah. I feel like social media alone probably isn't enough to have the kind of success that you're seeing. But I think it's the way I look at getting gigs was always it's a numbers game. I always had a lot of success actually going the other way. I would go to clients and tell them about me just because I felt like that was a little bit more efficient. Now, Instagram is so ubiquitous, Behance is turning into this really great way to get booked and they're fairly low cost in terms of your time.
Joey: Take something cool you just did and put it on Instagram and hashtag it takes seconds. To put a little case study on Behance for the project you just did might take a couple of hours. But you basically now have a worm on a hook in a pond 24/7 kind of doing work for you. So I think it is awesome and I can't wait to see where it goes. I just encourage everyone listening to go look at Mitch's presence. We will link everything to the show notes.
Another part of your online presence is on your site, you have actual products that you've created, like lighting kits and stuff. You have a few tutorials, you actually have a newsletter, which is something that I almost never seen I think on a motion designer's portfolio site. You've been kind of making rounds on industry podcasts and stuff like that. You've spoken from Maxon, you kind of are everywhere. I'm curious, is all of that sort of coordinated or are those things actually a result of the success that you've had with some of your projects like the Adobe Splash screen? Did those things fall on your lap or did you do those and they helped create the success?
Mitch: Yes. So it's a little bit of both. I think obviously getting the Adobe thing with JR was a huge boost to my career. That was like my first freelance gig, which is crazy. Yeah, which is insane. My first month of freelance was the busiest time of my life because I had C-Graph with Maxon, I was doing a presentation for. I had two projects with the Mill. I also had the Adobe Splash Screen thing in one month, so I was freaking out. But I think the ability to I guess get to where I am now with all these different types of things I am doing has been partly being lucky enough to get those types of projects that really stand out. Then also being the person who manifest a lot in his life. I think it's been a part of me, having that bigger goal and then these things presenting itself and me taking the action to actually make it a reality.
I loved doing things like these. I love doing these podcasts, I love speaking for Maxon and I'm the type of person the words easy to put myself out there, which may not be the case for a lot of people. I know there's a lot of introverts in this industry. I used to be quite introverted until I got into music, which it forces you not to be an introvert at that point. But I think being open to taking the types of opportunities that life presents itself is part of being successful. I think the reason that a lot of people might have trouble being as successful as they possibly could be is because they're afraid to take ... Either afraid or just don't recognize the opportunities that life does present itself.
There's a lot of little things that happen every day to me that I can create a strategy for. That would help me get closer to those types of goals that I have and I just take action on it.
Joey: Yeah. Well, speaking of opportunities, I do want to ask you actually about the Adobe After Effects Splash Screen. So for anyone listening that didn't recognize Mitch's name, when you open up Adobe After Effects CC 2018, you see a splash screen that was designed, it's actually was co-designed I guess by you and by JR Canest Joje. In my opinion, probably the best after effects animator in the world. So I'd love to hear the story of that. How did that come about? How did you and Joje work together to create this one still frame? Tell me a tale, Mitch?
Mitch: Dude, it was so fun. I got that Email from Adobe randomly one night. It was the weirdest Email to read because I was like, wait what is this? I didn't really necessarily think they were asking to do this thing that they were asking me to do.
Joey: Why you? You're very talented but they did just randomly find you? How did that happen?
Mitch: Yeah. They said that they were scoping out artists on Behance and I guess they landed on my stuff. They basically just said that me and JR were their top picks and they wanted to do like a co-op thing this year because I guess their idea was they wanted to create some sort of feeling of working together as a team. What different types of artists can create when they come together. Me and JR's stuff is very different. He is very 2D-oriented, I'm very 3D. Mines is really I guess mostly photo realistic as far as the render types and then JR stuff is very flat but it also has a lot of texture and a lot of movement. He is very, very, very good at key-framing. He is very fluid I think.
So I'm guessing here but I'm thinking that's probably the reasoning that they chose both of us to work together. They just saw the contrast and thought that would create something different. So me and JR hopped on a video call soon after briefly talking to the people at Adobe about what their needs were and kind of what they were thinking. We were just like, holy crap, this is the busiest month of our lives, can we even do this? We both kind of fell on like, there's no way we're going to turn this down, we'll just suffer. Make something really awesome and be proud of it after this crazy month is done and over with.
So we were like, okay, how are we going to do this? What are our each other's objectives going to be? First, Adobe wanted to do an animation instead of just a still. Unfortunately, our calendars were so insane that month that we were just unable to do an animation. But we did fall on the still where we're like okay, we're just going to at least focus incredibly hard on this and just make it as cool as we possibly can think of. JR's initial ideas were with the kind of geometric look and he did some cool tests. Where he took the circle, square, and triangle you see on the new composition button and after effects. He was doing some cool test scenes in illustrator with those types of shapes and that composition and see if we can make something cool with that.
We basically just fell on going with that geometric shape that JR was one to do. Then I kind of thought of a way that we could make some sort of reasoning behind it. Which was we're going to put this very geometric, rigid kind of structure in this organic sort of 3D realistic world. That it's going to become kind of that compare, contrast of this very mechanical type of program that does these really crazy things. The artist kind of mind that's very organic and fluid and creative and how those two worked together. That's kind of where we went with it and we created a ton of different versions of both the scene and the geometrics. It was an easy process.
Adobe was like use these colors and that's it, you do whatever you want.
Joey: That's awesome.
Mitch: Which is awesome.
Joey: It sounds like the schedule was stressful but what a dream gig. Actually now hearing that from you, it makes total sense. I know Joje and I know his work really well. That geometric, it's almost like an after effects [Madola 00:59:58] or something. Just using the interface of after effects, the little sort of no object circle that you created. But then you print all of that into 3D and it looks like you've got volume metrics, you've got a bunch of glows. I love it turned out, man. You guys must be really really psyched about that. Yeah.
Mitch: It's awesome.
Joey: Okay. So let me ask you one more thing about how you get work. You have this really great social media presence and online presence and brand and I think that does a lot of work for you. Do you actually need to go out and tell people about, hey, I'm Mitch and I'm a motion designer? Do you do that to get work too or has it just been an imbalance so far?
Mitch: Yeah, up to this point, I haven't had to do any Emails, anything like that but I do it every day anyway. Just because I like to talk about myself and shout my work and such. Just because I want people's reactions and I want to see where I lie. Almost everything I do is all to get an outside view of where I am in conjunction with the goals that I have. So every day when I'm not sitting on cinema, working with a client, if I have like an off-day or something, I'll be on social chit-chatting. I'm talking to people to see if I can get in for like a speaking gig or just any type of opportunity that I can create for myself, for my career. That's kind of where my downtime is.
Then plus just doing the normal teaching with yourself. Just trying to gain as much knowledge as you can and then trying to spread around to the industry too. Just being that open person that people can come to and ask question and me being willing to just help whoever out. That's incredibly satisfying too. I think it comes back around most of the time, more often than not. I've given away some clients to some motion designers just because I didn't have time in my calendar. Then it will come back to where I have like a week free and then that guy or girl will come to me. Be like, hey, I have this client and I just can't take him right now. Do you want to hop on it? Then I'll be like, yeah.
So this industry is cool that way to where at least when it comes down to the artist and their relationships to each other it's very open and everyone is like a friend. If you're a motion designer and you go to a place like NAB or anything like that and you hang around the Adobe or Cinema booths, everyone is a big friend. Just how people are just talking about their work and everything. Just really fun.
Joey: Yeah, that's definitely true. With every guest that I have on, I always try to find some takeaway to give the listener, some lesson. I think with you, there are so many. We've talked about a lot. But one that is really sticking in my brain and one I definitely kind of want to explore more I think, is the idea of letting your brand and your online presence do a lot of the work for you. You're hustling, you're doing everything. You're doing inbound, you're doing outbound, you're doing your own PR and marketing and everything. But your brand and the way your site looks and the way is presented and the way you present, it seems like doing a lot of work for you. This Adobe project being a perfect example.
So it sounds like what you're doing now is like you're planting a lot of seeds that you haven't even been freelancing a year. In another year, you'll be turning down work every day because if you're making friends, referring work, doing all those things. It's a real good strategy, I think everyone listening should kind of study what Mitch is doing in terms of the business side, also the art side. The business side, you're just crushing it.
So my last question for you is this. A problem that can sometimes happen and I suspect that this will happen to you because you are an ambition person, yet you have a lot of drive. Sometimes you can run into this situation of like, all right, well, I've kind of achieved all the goals that I wrote down, now what? You've worked with Adobe and you did the Glitch Mob album cover. I'm sure there's other things you're working on right now that are really cool. You're sort of Mo Graph famous because of the splash screen. What's the next thing for you? Do you have a goal in mind? Are you worried that one day you're going to be like, shit, I've done it all? I don't know how old you are, you'll be under 40 and all those boxes would be checked off.
Mitch: Definitely. I want to be a millionaire by the time I'm 35 so that's a big goal for me.
Joey: There you go.
Mitch: I'm 28 now so I got still some time. But I also own some business on the side. Me and my wife own a salon together. I'm very in tuned with entrepreneurial lifestyle, It just like how I find happiness and I get a lot of satisfaction out of things like that. So I think it's easier because I'm not only putting all of my eggs in the motion design basket as far as the reasoning being happy. I think I will always be a motion designer and an artist and things like that. But there's also a lot of other things that need my attention, which keeps things really fresh as well as super busy.
But I feel I'm always happy to either get back to my computer, jump on Cinema 40, make something pretty. Then I'm always happy to go and manage the other businesses that I have going on right now. At this point, it's kind of hard to tell what the next step for me would be in motion design. Especially as a freelancer because I'm so fresh into freelancing. I'm just kind of enjoying this new lifestyle that I've created for myself. There are a lot of other goals that I haven't gotten to yet. I really I'm into title design and I would love to do like a title sequence and stuff like that in my career at one point. I think there's a lot of opportunities that I still haven't been able to take advantage of and things like that.
So I want to see where my career brings me to. I've done so many different things, playing music and stuff like that. My life is always kind of given me these little opportunities and routes that I could possibly take. So I'm just kind of excited to see what this year and next year and the year after that kind of creates for itself. Where I might end up five years down the road.
Joey: Check out Mitch's work at mitchmyers.tv and all the links we mentioned will be in the show notes at schoolofmotion.com. I want to thank Mitch for coming on and just being himself and telling everyone about how he has achieved so much success in a short amount of time. All of the things that he has done to help his career, are things that you can do to and I hope you take action. If you do, if you like this episode, please let us know. Hit us up on Twitter @schoolofmotion or head to the site. There you can check out the monstrous of free content that we have for you.
Thanks so much for listening in and I cannot wait to be inside your ears again.
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