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MoGraph in Iceland: A GIF-Filled Chat w/ Alumni Sigrún Hreins
Motion Designer and School of Motion Alumni Sigrún Hreins shares how she stays inspired while navigating the Icelandic MoGraph scene.
Today we’re talking to longtime alumni Sigrún Hreins of Reykjavik, Iceland about her career, her time at School of Motion, the Mograph scene in Iceland, and the ancient art of GIF-smithing.
Sigrún first joined us for Animation Bootcamp back in March of 2016 and has since taken Character Animation Bootcamp, Design Bootcamp, and Cinema 4D Basecamp.
Sigrún Hreins Interview
School of Motion: Hi Sigrún, thanks for taking the time to chat! To start, we’re very curious about the MoGraph scene in Iceland. What can you tell us about doing motion design there?
Sigrún Hreins: It’s probably very similar to doing it elsewhere. Except it's a pretty small market and there's not a whole lot of us, so there's plenty of work.
I've been steadily employed ever since I graduated from animation school almost a decade a ago, so I can't complain. For the past three years I've been working at a wonderful ad agency (Hvíta húsið) and I'm so lucky to get to work with a great team of very creative and lovely people everyday.
SoM: Glad to hear it. How about the creative community as whole?
SH: Very vibrant, we have so many talented designers and musicians here. There's a wonderful annual design festival called Design March that showcases a lot of the local talent every year which is fantastic.
SoM: Nice! Are most of your clients from Iceland?
SH: I work at an Icelandic ad agency, so most of the clients we work for are Icelandic. I have worked for some big name brands like Domino's Pizza, Lexus and Coca-Cola to name a few, but it's usually for the Icelandic branch of those companies.
But I do a bit of freelancing on the side and have worked for some international clients, mainly from the US. I love doing international work, so I would definitely welcome more of that.
SoM: Cool, cool. What projects are you working on right now?
SH: Well, right now I'm just enjoying what's left of my summer vacation, so I'm not working on anything at the moment - except for a couple of silly GIFs for myself. When I get back to work I'm going to work on an ad campaign for the Icelandic Red Cross, do some freelancing for an American union and I have a couple of short films in my head that I want to work on in my spare time.
SoM: Yeah, we’ve noticed you create a lot of fun GIFs! How has that helped you develop and grow your MoGraph skills? Is this just for fun, or do you have a specific reason for creating them?
SH: Thanks! I love doing silly little GIFs, it's a passion of mine. I do them mainly for two reasons, to amuse myself and to implement something new that I want to try (different art style than I'm used to, new animation technique, new script/plug-in, etc.). It's also a great way to blow of steam and get creative again after doing a lot of "for the meal" projects.
I love Joey's saying of "one for the meal, one for the reel," but sometimes it's just "one for the meal" for long stretches of time and that can create a bit of frustration. The GIFs are a good way to turn that frustration into something positive.
SoM: Ah, "one for the meal, one for the reel." Is it safe to say that School of Motion has had a big impact on your work?
SH: Oh, it's influenced it so much! I felt so inspired after doing the first couple of bootcamps.
They really reignited my passion for animation and design and I started doing way more personal stuff, from directing music videos to animating goofy GIFs.
SoM: And your professional work too?
SH: Yeah, I'm a lot faster now so I get things done pretty quickly without having to sacrifice the quality.
SoM: Awesome, glad to hear it. What else did you pick up in the courses?
SH: I've learned so much from every single course that I've taken at SoM.
My educational background is in visual arts and 3D animation and I had already been working professionally as an animator/designer for quite a few years when I signed up for the Animation Bootcamp, so I already knew all the basics, like the 12 principles etc.
But I was able to speed up my workflow soooooo much after taking the course. I also got more comfortable with After Effects and I gained a much better understanding of the graph editor in AE (which had been a source of much frustration and anxiety before taking the course).
I also loved Joey's friendly and laid back teaching style and the overall way the course was set up. After that course I was hooked and signed up for Design Bootcamp almost immediately after finishing the animation one to get a better handle on layouts and text designs.
Then after finishing that one, I signed up for the Character Animation Bootcamp to tighten up my character animation workflow. And now I'm finishing up the C4D Basecamp course, so I think I might be addicted to SOM at this point!
SoM: Awesome, did you find any aspect of the courses you took particularly challenging?
SH: The most challenging thing is to balance such a heavy course load with a full-time day job, freelance work, and having a social/family life (the last one did end up getting the short end of the stick, luckily I have a very understanding and supportive partner and friends). It's only for a few weeks though, and is so worth it in the end.
SoM: They can definitely be time intensive, but we’re glad to hear you gotten so much out of the experience. Finally, what advice do you have for new students?
SH: First and foremost, have fun! Enjoy taking some time for yourself and learning something you are interested in. Also, try to make time each day to work on a project or listen to a lecture;
don't wait for the weekend and do it all then. It's doable, but you'll tire yourself out.
I managed to keep up with the course load and stay on schedule during the first three bootcamps, but unfortunately I haven't been able to keep up with the C4D course like I wanted to, because life got in the way, but I'm slowly catching up now (It's an amazing course BTW! EJ rocks!).
So don't stress even if things don't go according to plan, or if you have to play catch up, just focus on finishing at your own time.
Also, one thing that's really good to keep in mind is that you only have to compete with yourself.
Just keep challenging and pushing yourself, and get out of the comfort zone. Take a look at how much better your work is now compared to 6 months ago, a year ago, five years ago. And take pride in that.
There will always be someone more talented, faster, smarter, better etc., so it's easy to get discouraged and want to give up. But as long as you love what you are doing, then just keep at it and you'll be so much better next year than you are now.