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GSG Speaks at SAIC Chicago about getting a Job in a Creative Industry. 77 Comments


Here is the speech I gave at SAIC Chicago about what to learn and how to get a job in a creative field. I do focus some of the presentation on Motion Designers, but most of it is relevant to most creative industries. The main idea is to think of yourself as a business. You need to turn yourself into a great product and then learn how to sell yourself.

The speech gets cut off toward the end, but I only cut off one question. As always, let me know what you think.

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77 Comments

  1. thanks for giving a very informative talk man! you are an inspiration to aspiring motion designers and creative people in general!

    Reply
    • Pretty much. Nobody want’s to work with an ass, no matter how great you are at your job.

      On second thought, maybe it should be more like “Be Nice”.

      Reply
    • no no i meant uncool like nerdy and introverted, not uncool like pompous ass…

      Reply
    • Nerdy and introverted is fine. Just make sure that you leave your house enough and meet people that can help get you a job. Connections are the most important part.

      Reply
    • yeah that’s always the challenge…I got an awesome fulltime job (hugely surprisingly) by doing free work for a friend a few years back…its weird the way things come around…

      Reply
    • Jordan

      always be “Uncool” it will set you apart form the crowd! ;)

      Reply
    • It’s a variation on it. It’s a bit more streamlined and thought out I think. What are your thoughts?

      Reply
    • DenDagge

      Just finished watching it and indeed, it’s a lot more focused, mostly for a student audience I reckon..

      Best tip I got out of it, as I’m working fulltime in studio, was ‘don’t be the best, be around the best’.

      That summed up a lot of feelings I’ve always had… I love to be around great artists.
      And the internet and sites like yours, make this a bit easier, although on a slighty different level than actual co-workers.

      Keep the quality content flowing !

      Reply
  2. Irfan

    Hey Nick thanks for sharing – great set of information; easy to digest! Cheers…

    Reply
  3. davidbharata

    nice speech man! I agreed wt what u said about how we should work wt clients, giving them a back up idea is a good way to show your own opinion to client, and im actually also treating my Creative Dir as my client, but the problem is almost every projects that we had, i had to follow what he wants. clients no big deal for me today i get a hard client tomorrow might be different, but with my own creative dir, i have to face him like every day man…have u ever had this kind of issue in your career life? im working in a music tv station by the way,… (kinda like MTV) .
    excuse my english coz it’s my second lang.

    thx man…

    Reply
  4. Really interesting presentation! You going to start selling trainings ? Can you tell a little bit more about that? I’m student now, sometimes your blog posts are more interesting than some lessons at school. By the way what is your vision about a course that is dealing with design and programming (flash programming)?

    Reply
    • robin

      The videos on Nicks blog are 80% of the time more interesting than what I learn at school. But then again… it’s the only school in like a 200km radius that teaches computer graphics (high school that is.) AND it’s only their second year so can’t blame ‘em.
      But I’m kinda starting to see Nick as a not-so-personal-but-still-personal mentor lol. Big thanks!

      Reply
    • Thanks, Stef! I have some photoshop training on my site now and expect to have AE training and C4D training soon as well. Stay tuned.

      Robin: Thanks for that. I really appreciate those great words! Glad I can help!

      Reply
  5. Shawn Burns

    Nick has nothing but excellent info. I work staff at a pretty well known motion studio and still always find time for Nick’s priceless insight. The man is making shit happen and cool shit I might add! keep up the great work Nick it’s fun to watch your success grow as a designer, best of luck dude !

    Reply
  6. T.French

    So what web publishing company do you use for GSG Nick?

    Reply
    • I have a private VPN for my server and use godaddy for my domains. I use WordPress for my blogs. Hope that’s what you were looking for.

      Reply
  7. Kiloski

    Great presentation Nick…
    quick question what is the font that you used during your presentation and all throughout your site? Haha I know random question
    Thanks

    Reply
    • God question kiloski! Just wanted to ask the same.
      The Gothem font I found at Hoefler&Frere-Jones looks pretty the same as yours in the presentation. But somehow the letter K, M looks different.
      Are there different Gotham fonts available.

      btw: good presentation!

      Reply
    • Kiloski

      Hahaha thanks for the reply Nick and mo
      yea it is a pretty sexy font I’ll be sure to find it when I get some time :]

      Reply
    • Kiloski

      omg thats weird I was just about to post that Gill Sans Ultra Bold looked really similar

      Reply
  8. Hey Nick, i have a question.

    You say keep site design really simple, but I think mine is plain boring. Can you tell me what you like/dislike about my site, and how could it be improved? Thanks man!

    Reply
    • Your site looks good to me man. Don’t feel like a simple site reflects poorly on your design skills or anything, it doesn’t.

      Your home page works really well. One idea is to put all your designs right there on the home page. Add the thumbnails under your name graphic.

      While navigating the site… your name/ID isn’t clearly present anywhere because it exists only on the home page. Just something to consider.

      Reply
    • Thanks alot guys for the reply. Chris, ill take that into consideration, i think thats a great idea. Also thank you too Nick. I guess i got tired of looking at my site everytime i updated it lol

      Reply
  9. Very very nice. Wish I could have seen something like this when I was in school. Thanks Nick.

    Reply
  10. I’m not yet a motion graphics student, but stopped in because I am interested in going that direction and was inspired beyond words, man. I learned a lot from your presentation… really took the pompous asshole thing to heart. Thanks a lot.

    Reply
    • Gook idea! Do people use those things though? I always just copy and paste the url. Do the buttons make it easier?

      Reply
    • Kiloski

      well they are pretty lazy but work
      do something similar to this its a really great site
      http://www.abduzeedo.com
      they have a nice sharing system for posts maybe you can get some inspiartion of that?

      Reply
    • Michiel

      Yes, those things work really great! Also the share on stumbleupon works good to get more hits.

      Reply
    • Yeah, people are lazy by nature! ;D
      No seriously, its not very hard to copy/paste the URL, I agree. But I tend use them as a “Call to action”-button at the end of a post.

      I believe that this encourages the readers to spread the link directly after reading with minimum effort. Not everybody has twitter.com in another window or a twitter app running. ;)

      Reply
  11. Brodie

    Really informative but I do have some (hopefully constructive) criticism. You say ‘Uh’ and ‘Uhm’ a lot. I don’t mind so much but I’ve been taught to do my best to avoid doing that when publicly speaking because it really takes the reader out of it.

    You just seem to wing your speech freely which makes it much harder probably but yeah, I just noticed it so I thought I’d let you know.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the critique Brodie. I really have been trying to do that less. Please do call me out if I do it more. Cheers!

      Reply
  12. Good stuff, Nick. So many ‘Getting a Job’/'Set up your own studio’ type articles I see in mags/online are full of disappointingly obvious comments but I thought you raised some really interesting points.

    Reply
  13. Great stuff, I like your style…I enjoy your down to earth approach…

    I think I am going to send you a lavalier mike for xmas…But only if you’re good!….

    One question though, how do you monetize all that work you put in here?

    Reply
    • Hi Serge! Yeah, I have to get a better mic setup for the speeches for sure.

      As for monetizing, I am starting to sell training products like the Photoshop for Photographers training, and I may have some other ones soon. But, I’m not too concerned about monetizing at the moment. I just want to build a community and help people rock this business. The money will come later… Maybe :)

      Reply
  14. MorganDuran

    Great talk Nick!
    I don’t think we’ve ever really had anyone in motion graphics speak at SAIC. We really enjoyed it, thanks again!

    Reply
  15. Jordan

    Please come to SCAD’s Inspire, hit up Justin tell him u want to come and speak!

    Reply
  16. Hey gorilla, I have a suggestion, unrelated to this post, but a suggestion nonetheless! Have you thought of a direct site to the blog? So to get there it’s not gsg/blog? Just wondering!

    Reply
    • Yeah, the blog has really become a big part of the site lately. may make greyscalegorilla.com to directly to the blog and move my photo gallery to /photos or something like that. Thanks for the reminder.

      Reply
  17. Blake

    Question: Let’s say a client asks you to do something that you don’t know how to do…

    Do you save face, say sure, look up how to do it later, or do you be honest and say uhhh, I don’t know how to do that.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Michiel

      Hey Blake, I’d say it really depends. When it comes down to one or two techniques you can easily learn I’d say yes… but when it’s really something different, like when someone would ask me to do a 3d character animation or something ;-) I’d be wise enough to say no. Or make sure you know someone you can hand the job over to.

      Reply
    • Well put, Michiel. With every project, there will be some things that you don’t know exactly how to do. Embrace those challenges and lean as you go. But if they ask for something WAY out of your knowledge base, either have someone to call on for freelance that CAN do it, or say no. This is a time when having some great connections can find you the person that can help work on a job with you and then everybody is happy.

      Reply
  18. Spencer B

    Nick, Great thoughts on photography as it relates to design. It’s strong motivation for me to buy a good SLR. Thanks for the great advice and tips on your site.

    Reply
  19. Thats some great advise about the length of the reel. Lots of people including me made a reel thinking oh man this isn’t long enough to be qualified as “good.” My old reel should have been 30 sec and the next one will only be 40.

    Reply
  20. Thanks you Nick for this conference, I’m French but I understand some things thanks to your mimes :)
    Keep it up to share us your experience Nick.

    Reply
  21. Wow! Thank you Nick, i gained alot of insight from this presentation. I dont know anybody around me who’s into this stuff so being able to see this clip and have sort of an online motion design mentor is awesome… This cleared out alot of my confusions!

    Cant really find the words to describe the motivation i got after watching this, I’m now going to chop of 1m30s of my reel ;)

    Thanks!

    Reply
  22. Adeolu

    Hi, dude, this is a great one, thanks for the information, its really enlightening. Can u compress this video further, to a size of like 50 to 60 MB, thanks alot

    Reply
    • Thanks Adeolu! Feel free to download the full quicktime from vimeo and compress it to whatever size you need. I’m interested, where are you showing it?

      Reply
  23. Great video, i’ve made some notes from this! :) In college (Holland) i dont never heard most of these tips! good job man, keep on going.

    Reply
  24. awesome tips man!
    i totally gonna follow the one in which you recomend not to be the best one (i wanna be modest, so i won’t bring that up again :P )

    U are the best one nick.
    keep on rocking man :D

    Reply

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Comment Rules

This is a friendly community. Please treat everyone with respect. We don't all have to agree, but we do have to be nice. Criticism is fine, but rude comments and name calling will be deleted. Use your real name and don't be spammy. Thanks for adding to the conversation.