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For clarity, I will be using the term “design” to refer to coming up with ideas, “illustrate” to refer to creating graphics and “animate” to make the graphics move on screen.
Expectation vs. Reality
In my industry, more specifically the 2D motion graphics industry, most designers seem to be all-rounders. They design their idea, illustrate it and animate it. On top of that, if you call yourself a motion designer, people expect that you have created, what they see on screen. It is a general problem most designers face, that non-creatives expect them to have had a hand in every aspect of the project, but even among creatives within the motion graphics industry, the expectation is, that a 2D motion designer has created the whole piece from scratch. Very rarely have I encountered motion designers, who don’t fit this expectation. Among those who operate, largely as I operate, there seems to be a common feeling of deficiency or inadequacy. Unless you do everything, how can you call yourself a motion designer?
I often question, if I should call myself a motion designer. I have played around with the term motion animator, to avoid confusion. I rigorously label all my projects and social media posts with credits, where I haven’t illustrated the artwork myself. But aren’t there so many different types of motion designer with different strengths, from 3D motion designer, to explainer video creator, to GIF artist, to 2D vector style animator? Why should we expect from ourselves to fit into such a narrow mould, as to create all aspects of a motion design ourselves?
Practice makes Designer
I love creating GIFs and stickers. I try to create a set each week. For efficiency, I tend to use free or stock illustrations. Sometimes I collaborate with illustrators and animate their artwork, which you can watch me do in my Animation Co-Lab live stream series. I do this, because I love the animation part of the process and don’t want to get stuck in the design stage. I want to produce a cool animation, with cool graphics that I’ll be happy with. A part of me is content with focussing on the animation, because that’s what I am best at but a part of me still thinks I am an impostor for not illustrating the graphics myself.
Just because I prefer animation, doesn’t mean I can’t illustrate or learn to be a better designer. I may be less confident in those areas, but I can improve. It feels good to work in areas we excel in, because our products are consistent, they create confidence in our ability and we are praised for our good work. But if we only stick to things we are good at, we will never get better at things we are less good at. In order to overcome my imposter syndrome of not being enough of a designer, I need to do something about it. So, I have set myself a project to do just that.
I have set myself a goal to create a chat app sticker pack. You know, the ones you can use on WhatsApp, Telegram or iMessage and even Signal? If I want to take this project to the next level and release them for the various messengers, I actually need to design and illustrate my own graphics. I want to flex my creative muscle and be able to say “I made all of that”. Plus, that seems to be the best way to avoid any type of copyright infringement. Below, you can see a preview of the first three rendered stickers. I am planning to animate them once I have the whole set designed and illustrated.
My audience on my various social media channels is largely students and philomaths; lovers of learning. That’s why I landed on the graduation cap character. I will be documenting my journey of creating and animating these stickers here on the blog as well as on social media. I will share my struggles as well as my success, what I have learned along the way and tips on how you can create a sticker pack, if you so wish. If you like, you can follow along. Don’t worry about not feeling creative enough to design your own graphics. You can develop the skill by continuing to work on it. Just like anything, practice makes perfect and in this case, practice makes designer!
Am I a designer?
In conclusion, yes. You don’t have to design or illustrate your own work, to be a motion designer. Don’t feel intimidated by those, who do it all. Creative work is often the product of many. It’s awesome that you create art in collaboration with others. There is a lot of value in working with a team. But, if you crave to be a designer or illustrator, nothing is stopping you. People are not either inherently creative or just an artworker. It is a muscle you can train. I myself am using Skillshare to get better at designing, drawing and squashing that impostor syndrome. Ultimately, it’s the practice that makes us designers.
Go forth and create!