MoGraph Meetups Offer Information, Inspiration and Interconnection, But are They Worth the Time, Effort and Price Tag?
As confirmed by our 2019 Motion Design Industry Survey, MoGraph Meetups are a popular means for motion designers to escape the monotony of their everyday lives, explore the latest industry trends and network with fellow artists and entrepreneurs.
But they're not typically cheap, and some sell out so quickly that tickets are tough to acquire.
This can pose a problem for creative professionals, and especially the self-employed freelancers who can't always plan far ahead or afford the high prices for tickets, transportation and accommodations.
We sent a correspondent to this year's Node fest — organized by Yes Captain — to go behind the scenes of "the premier motion design event down under." What was Sydney-based freelance animator Robert Grieves's assignment?
To answer a few important questions:
- What are the benefits of attending MoGraph meetups?
- Who will you meet at MoGraph meetups?
- Are MoGraph meetups worth the time and money?
On a search for the truth, Robert interviewed a cross-section of attendees — from freelancers to studio bosses to industry consultants.
Here's what he found...
The Background: Why I went to Node
Before moving recently from London to Sydney, I researched the Australian motion scene, and Node stood out as a shortcut to the inner circle.
Having attended many industry events before, I approached the November 2019 Node fest with the knowledge of a MoGraph meetup veteran and the innocence of a newbie to the local animation scene.
Past experience taught me that finding a true sense of belonging is not instant; when I first attended the Manchester Animation Festival in 2017, my life wasn't changed, but when I returned in 2018 the event took on an entirely new dimension: now I knew people; I'd become part of something; I did, indeed belong!
And with so many things in life, I realized: the more you invest in yourself, the bigger the rewards.
This year, from my new home in Sydney, I couldn’t justify flying back to the Manchester Animation Festival; instead, I took that all-too-familiar first-year risk and flew to Melbourne for Node.
The Benefits of MoGraph Meetups
From the Manchester Animation Festival in 2017 and 2018, and Node in 2019, I've learned that much can be gained from attending MoGraph Meetups. Here are my top seven...
1. MEETING PEOPLE IN PERSON
Chats on Slack are great, but at-conference face-to-face encounters facilitate deeper connections, whether its with your online buddy or someone you meet before, after or during a breakout session, lunch break or afterparty.
2. CREATING LASTING RELATIONSHIPS
While the experience of meeting a fellow motion designer in person is profound enough, the relationships that can develop in the following days, weeks and months after are even more important.
Every MoGraph meetup is a chance to expand your network, and lots of email addresses, phone numbers and Dribble invites are exchanged.
3. LEARNING THE LATEST
Whether it's a new app, tool or technology, business trend, workflow hack or source of inspiration, conferences represent an ideal opportunity to discover what's new.
4. FINDING A BREAK
Headspace is essential to ongoing innovation and productivity. Many of us labor for hours and days without looking up from our screen, and industry events provide the excuse we need to step back, reflect and re-identify our role in the community.
5. SHARING THE GOOD AND THE BAD
Whether you're a famous figurehead, an accomplished artist, a recent college graduate, a mid-career freelancer, a studio owner, an industry consultant, an indie app creator or a corporate rep, you'll find your people at most MoGraph meetups.
This is your chance to exchange the ups and downs, the biggest wins and hardest setbacks, the best tips and tricks, the newest revelations and latest conceptual inklings.
6. GETTING INSPIRED
Motion design festivals are innovation incubators. From the speeches to the presentations, and from the breakout sessions to the lunch-line conversations, inspiration is everywhere.
7. INSPIRING OTHERS
There's perhaps no better feeling than knowing you've motivated another motion artist, and your experiences can inspire others as much as you're being inspired at these events.
Who You'll Meet at MoGraph Meetups
This year at Node, I was no longer merely a ticket-carrying attendee; I was on a mission to serve my motion design community, by finding out — with all the irrefutable benefits, and the colossal costs — whether MoGraph meetups are worth it.
Since a variety of perspectives are always better than one, I asked the people I met. Here's what they had to say...
THE SOM ALUM
"It's the networking that holds the real benefit to me. As a freelancer, it's a constant effort to put myself at the front of everyone's mind when looking to hire, so networking and hanging out is super helpful for my visibility.
"During the chilled vibe of the gatherings, it’s much easier to reach out to studio owners, staff designers and other freelancers on a level playing field — especially with directors and studio owners, who outside this setting can be intimidating or difficult to reach out to.
"Attending an event in my country’s not too big a cost compared to attending Blend, Annecy, and so on. If it can land me a few jobs in the future, then it pays for itself pretty quickly. And if not, it's a good excuse to have a weekend away with my partner and friends."
– Derek Lau, Sydney-based freelance motion designer with six years experience, now enrolled in Cinema 4D Basecamp
THE INDUSTRY EXPERT
"It’s simple: talks are great, but they are not the biggest reason to attend a conference. Rather, the biggest benefits of attending Node are exposing yourself to new experiences, discovering unexpected connections, and forging new collaborations. I sometimes attend conferences where I never attend a single talk, yet the ROI is massive."
– Joel Pilger, Partner, RevThink, and SOM Podcast guest, Denver
THE STUDIO OWNER
"Primarily, it’s a well deserved reward for the team’s hard work. But of course it’s also a great injection of inspiration and education.
"On a personal level, though, I feel hugely invested in Node, and want to support Australia’s only MoGraph event. Our studio created the Node titles one year, I spoke another year, and I’ve loved seeing it grow from the very start.
"It’s never about the tangible ROI we find attending broader industry events, it's about investing in our staff and our community."
– Mike Tosetto, Founder & Director, Never Sit Still, who flew his Sydney-based team of six to Node, covering all expenses
THE RETURNING HERO
"I didn’t even know about festivals 'til Node, but it immediately opened my eyes to the amazing work people around me could achieve. One minute I was hearing talks from inspirational people, the next I was chatting with them at the afterparty.
"Last year I collaborated with a friend for the Node ident competition. At first we were simply grateful for the deadline, but then we won, which obviously came with a level of unexpected exposure!
"I’ve been to so many events now, and am always super inspired by all the artists I see"
– Jessica Herrera, 3D Creative, Animade (London), which designed the intro for Cinema 4D Basecamp
THE EPIC TRAVELER
"I really believe that good things come from good beginnings. I've worked with Australians for nearly six years now and, instead of always taking away, I wanted to give back — so this year I did what I could to help sponsor this event.
"It's important to help events like Node exist because you never know who's going to change the medium, the language. We are all interconnected and it's important to give back. A rising tide raises all boats."
– Andrew Embury, Founder, Yellow Lab, Canada
THE GENUINELY SURPRISED
On a Node presentation from Jason Poley, who shared his personal struggles with mental health and how it impacts the life of a freelance creative:
"It was a brave and touching break from the usual content... I've been through a similar mental lull, and I'm sure many others have. Balancing personal life with freelancing can be very demanding and isolating."
– Dylan K. Mercer, motion designer, Melbourne
The Consensus: Are MoGraph Meetups Worth It?
If you ask me, or the other Node 2019-2020 attendees, many of whom traveled to Australia from other continents, the answer is a resounding YES!
Whether you're there for the beer, the networking, the news or the inspiration, if you can afford it, the MoGraph meetup is worth the time and effort.
So, pick an event, buy your tickets, arrange for your travel and stay, and get ready to really experience — it might be momentous for your career and, as we've learned, your mental health.
MoGraph Meetups: The List
Not long ago, we compiled The Ultimate Guide to Motion Design Meetups and Events, a (nearly?) complete list of the MoGraph meetups across the world.
Until You Get There: Get Advice Today
There's nothing more inspiring than hearing from your heroes; and, if you're not yet ready to invest in a MoGraph meetup, you can download some coveted advice for free...
EXPERIMENT. FAIL. REPEAT.
Our 250-page Experiment. Fail. Repeat. ebook features insights from 86 of the world's most prominent motion designers, answering key questions like:
- What advice do you wish you had known when you first started in motion design?
- What is a common mistake that new motion designers make?
- What’s the difference between a good motion design project and a great one?
- What’s the most useful tool, product or service you use that’s not obvious to motion designers?
- Are there any books or films that have influenced your career or mindset?
- In five years, what’s one thing that will be different about the industry?
Get the insider's scoop from Nick Campbell (Greyscalegorilla), Ariel Costa, Lilian Darmono, Bee Grandinetti, Jenny Ko (Buck), Andrew Kramer (Video Copilot), Raoul Marks (Antibody), Sarah Beth Morgan, Erin Sarofsky (Sarofsky), Ash Thorp (ALT Creative, Inc.), Mike Winkelmann (AKA Beeple), and others:
HOW TO GET HIRED: INSIGHTS FROM 15 WORLD-CLASS STUDIOS
Looking to work specifically in the MoGraph studio environment? Following the success of Experiment. Fail. Repeat., we used the same model, targeting 10 questions to the leaders of the top motion design studios in the industry. We asked, for example:
- What is the best way for an artist to get on your studio's radar?
- What are you looking for when you review an artists' work that you are considering hiring full-time?
- Does an art degree impact someone's chances of getting hired at your studio?
- Are resumes still relevant, or do you only need a portfolio?
For key insights from the likes of Black Math, Buck, Digital Kitchen, Framestore, Gentleman Scholar, Giant Ant, Google Design, IV, Ordinary Folk, Possible, Ranger & Fox, Sarofsky, Slanted Studios, Spillt and Wednesday Studio, download How to Get Hired: