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How Do I Start a Career in Motion Graphics?

Two men sitting at a table with a computer in front of them

The ability to animate and produce motion graphics makes you a powerful creative force in the modern landscape. Most of the media we consume on a daily basis implements eye-catching visuals to help it stand out from the sea of content. As a motion graphics animator, you are a valuable asset to any company trying to leave their footprint in the digital realm. So, what is motion graphics?

What is Motion Graphics?

Essentially, motion graphics communicate information to the viewer in an eye-catching manner. This visual flair is used to keep the audience interested in the narrative being presented. A combination of text, animation, audio, color theory, and graphic design all go into bringing this art form to life.

How Do I Start a Career in Motion Graphics?

As with all forms of art, a key part of creating motion graphics is becoming familiar with as many examples of the medium as you can. This is easy as most media you consume will incorporate motion graphics to some degree. Searching online for highly rated and classic designs is another way to build your knowledge base. However, this process never truly ends, even once you are a professional. There is always more you can learn from fellow creators. Once you are comfortable with the many unique styles, you can investigate the two main avenues for learning how to make motion graphics for yourself.

The Two Paths

Your first option is to teach yourself with the help of online resources. The second is to attend a formal education program taught by experienced instructors. While each path provides pros and cons, one clearly provides you a better chance of forging a successful career. Here is a breakdown of each, and why you should seriously consider enrolling in a professional curriculum.

The Self-Taught Route

If you use the internet, then you are probably well-versed in looking up YouTube tutorials when you don’t know how to do something. This is a great method for simple tasks around the house but isn’t reliable enough to trust for something as important as your future career trajectory. There are many nuances and best practices that go into making modern graphic designs. Many hobbyist tutorial videos will skip the small intricacies or offer less than ideal techniques that lead to bad habits. Either way, this form of education leaves a lot to be desired. Your work won’t stack up to the competition. Since your job prospects are directly tied to your skill level, you are going to need a solid educational foundation to get a leg up on your rival animators.

Attending a Formal Program

A formal degree in video editing and motion graphics will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to land your first job. Classes are taught by experienced instructors who have their names credited in published works. The wisdom they share is more relevant than a hobbyist making online guides. These instructors know exactly what it takes for you to be successful. From landing jobs to working the daily grind, they have done it all before. The insight they provide is worth the price of admission alone.

You also get the added benefit of knowing which applications and hardware are trending within the industry. Knowing what you will work with allows you to train with the right tools from day one. Not only does this give you a head start but it allows you to avoid the confusion that comes from learning multiple tools for the same task. Watching too many random online tutorials can make learning the right way harder, since you need to filter out the good from the bad information. It is best to start off with a formal education to prevent this headache.

How Do I Land My First Position?

While progressing through your education, it is beneficial to make yourself appealing to as many potential employers as possible. The two main strategies for this are networking and building a portfolio. You should start networking immediately, whereas you can wait until after you graduate to create a portfolio website.

Networking

Building a network within the motion graphics industry should be priority number one. Every person you meet can lead to a great career move down the line. Attending a formal program gives you access to people with similar interests. Once you meet a few people, you can add them to a networking app like LinkedIn to stay in touch. A strong enough profile on LinkedIn will also allow you to connect with many animators from across the world that you wouldn’t know about otherwise. A big list of connections will naturally draw more people towards you. Each new face is another avenue for employment in the future.

Building a Portfolio

While some artists draft up formal resumes, the main way of showcasing your merit is through a portfolio. A portfolio is a body of work that you can show to potential employers. This collection should only include projects of which you are proud. The first few graphics you made in class are often not the best. Instead, you can use everything you learned to make a few pieces that you feel passionate about. Setting up a website to display them makes it easy on the hiring department and shows that you are invested in your success. The small sum you pay to host your portfolio site can lead to lucrative positions throughout your career. Be sure to make your website as professional and appealing as possible. The overall look of your website will also showcase your graphic design aptitude to hiring agents.

Where Can I Work Once I Have a Degree in Motion Graphics?

A career in motion graphics allows you to work in many different industries. Depending on the tone your employer is looking for, you can adjust your design to evoke the desired emotional response in the viewer. Therefore, knowledge of color theory and audio design is important in motion graphics. You can use these talents to cater your work to the brand. Here are some of the most common industries looking for motion graphics artists.

Social Media Marketing

Leveraging the internet for massive sales is nothing new. However, the landscape is constantly evolving with fresh ways of drawing the attention of potential customers. Flashy animations and motion graphics can do the trick. Any brand worth their salt will already be taking a visual approach to their advertising. This means your success depends entirely on how much you develop your skills. Becoming one of the best in your profession will allow you to work for many different companies looking to improve their online presence.

Television and Film

The fancy introduction sequences in movies and TV shows are a fantastic example of motion graphics artists at work. Many ending credit sequences fit the bill as well. These sections use the mesmerizing art of Typography to ensure the people who worked on a project get the recognition they deserve. Typography involves animating text, often synchronized to a specific audio track. You can see why this format is perfect for listing names in these types of sequences. Since there are always new productions being released, you can support a healthy career by just working with film studios.

News and Education

It can be much easier to explain a topic or point of view with the help of a visual aid. Both news networks and modern schools use motion graphics to make complex subjects easier to understand. Images and color can be combined with text to make the information more memorable. The whole point of this type of content is to get people to remember the info being passed along. Much like with film, there will always be news anchors and educators who seek to employ motion graphic artists.

Music Videos and Storytelling

Some motion graphics animators opt for a career in which they can tell stories. While the most common format is music videos, there are a million creative ways to spin a tale with visual elements. In the case of music videos, typography can be used along with traditional graphic design to produce content that matches the lyrics of the song. There are also many YouTube creators that implement motion graphics to make their stories stand out. Animating some content that was previously audio-only makes it appeal to a whole new audience.

Final Thoughts

Starting a career in motion graphics is all about discipline. The knowledge and skills you must learn is overwhelming at first, but each individual element is easy to understand on its own. The trick is to keep practicing. Repeated efforts to create motion graphics will help you place all the puzzle pieces correctly in your mind. Soon your skill will be undeniable, and many employers will be clamoring to get you on their roster.

Video Editing & Motion Graphics Program

Ready to learn more about a career in video editing and motion graphics? IPR’s Online Video Editing & Motion Graphics Degree program is entirely online, and allows students to earn a multi-skill, multi-functional Associate of Applied Science Degree in less than two years*.  Students learn entry-level skills in every aspect of post-production. IPR’s Video Editing and Motion Graphics program prepares you for a real-world role in post-production processes in the editorial, color, and motion graphics/animations departments.

If you are interested in a career in video editing and motion graphics you should tour our Minneapolis creative arts college, see the labs, and meet our staff. Call 1-612-351-0631 or contact admissions to make arrangements.

*2-year program completion based on full time enrollment