Presentation: How to Be Creative and GET PAID!

February 9, 2009 - By 

Finally got a copy of my presentation from MGFest 09 about how to get a job as a motion designer. Thanks to FXPHD for filming the event. The presentation is geared towards students trying to get into the industry, but the info is relevant to ALL creatives and creators.

Let me know what you think of the presentation. I am excited to do more presentations soon.

  • great advice. i’d buy a bluetooth clicker dealy if you’re doing more presentations.

  • Great advice, I hope the students there took notes.

  • Saw the video on Motionographer — being a student myself, did find some of this useful. Notes were indeed taken.


    • Out of the university and a student of life now and I took some notes, too.


      And all I was trying to do was check out the 5 second projects I had heard about!

      Double ch

  • That was great! you were a little shaky until you won their hearts.

    Easy like Sunday morning.

  • Simple and direct. Excellent presentation and blog!

  • Very cool. I like in the ending your “hierarchy of hiring”. I am personally more of a technical person than a creative designer. But I recognize that and your point rings true about how knowing design is key. So now my goal is to work towards learning design fundamentals and forget about the ’16bpc render with luma mattes and GI’ stuff, because in the end, the design will still make it look like crap if it’s not good.

  • What a great way to put it Justin.

  • Super informative. Inspired me to look for more direction in design & color theory as well as typography which I know is not my strong suit *blushes* Thanks!


  • Thanks for sharing all this information, specially with students. Great presentation!

  • I don’t remember how I found your blog, which is sad, cause It was earlier today… Anyway, this presentation was massively helpful as I’m trying to figure out my online portfolio right now. I’ll be hanging around.

  • Hey Nick,

    I want to first thank you for being so transparent especially with the whole website tips section. My name is Wynton. I am 24 an inspiring motion and effects designer living in Chicago and I saw your presentation on Motionographer. It really got me thinking.

    I can attest that I definitely dread having to update my flash site (the death trap of overlapping ActionScript) every time I have new work. So much so that there is a lot of work I still don’t have up at the moment. I have finally decided to just go ahead and redo the whole thing in HTML.

    Being a newlywed I pretty much have to take whatever freelance jobs I can get (usually not that creative or motion geared). That said, a lot of the work I have isn’t exactly mind blowing or even geared toward my passion.

    Besides freelance I currently hold a temp position as instructor for Dreamweaver, PHP, and anticipating my first Premiere and After Effects classes.

    Ok, now my question. If you can I would love your insight on my work and website, as well as any advice and possible help for getting even an entry position in this city.

    Thanks so much,


  • I have just discovered your blog but have already found countless useful tips, hints on how to advance in the industry and be a better designer. Keep it up.

  • Thanks for the great advice man! Inspired me to look into different aspects of the field.

  • Hi, first off wonderful video and presentation. I actually found this site through chances by looking up after effect tutorials. I am kind of having a similar problem you had, but in a way a little different. I actually have been using sites like Craigslist, Monster, Careerbuilder and so on to try and find a job. The problem I am having is through email. I am getting little to no responses back. Granted I understand the tough market, but I am partially worried that the emails I send out are in effect ending in spam mail. Another thing that worries me is the portfolio site I created is in a way to design oriented. I created one before, but several people told me to create one that shows my personal design.

    I guess in the end I am asking what is the best way to look for a job if your doing it by going through career sites? Is there changes I should make to my own site, should I keep it simple?

    More importantly I have fallen under that category as a perfectionist which as a result has allowed me to self-learn several various programs, in and outside school. I just graduated from Columbia College with a BA in Interactive Arts and Media, and it feels like I never stopped to master one thing. I find it to be a problem because now I am applying for jobs that I have the basic skill for, but not mastered. Should I actually take the time to master a specific program or does it really matter at all?

    I apologize for such a long message, but you have a sense of knowledge that I have not seen inside school and you have real-life experience.

    Any help I can find this day in age is worth trying. Thank you

  • I, too, found it through motionographer, and definitely took notes. It got my really excited. I’m new to the motion graphics thing, but during my internship I fell head over heals in love with it and used their resources to help me. Wish there were some more folks like yourself willing to dish out advice like that. In this economy, most of us approaching graduation are scared shitless.

  • Nick, great stuff in the presentation. I work at Full Sail University Would you be interested in coming to campus to do a presentation? Hit me up.


  • Pretty straight forward thanks!

  • Nick,
    I’ve been working in graphics for 9 years and I found this to be very informative for everyone. I’m finally going out on my own after being with the same company. If you have the time I would love to get some feedback on my work. In the mean time I’m going to make a greater attempt to create small projects for myself. Great advise.

  • Great stuff Nick, really informative!
    You could’ve analysed some chapters a bit more, but due to the lack of time I guess you couldn’t!
    If you accept some critique about giving presentations/speeches, I’d say that you:

    1) need to work on those “emm” “uhhh” when you’re pausing/thinking what to say next; it just doesn’t look/sound pro

    2) try to move less on stage. It shows that you’re anxious/uncertain and it shakes your confident image you have to show. The stress won’t help you with that, that’s for sure.

    Other than that, awesome tips! I would like to see more! Cheers!

    • Im no expert but some times these things are just part of some ones personality (if thats the right word) and trying to work hard to make sure you dont do them can sometimes make you look awkward or even more anxious

  • Hi Nick:

    My name is Hugo Bernal, and I work in a University here in Puebla, Mexico, the University is called Universidad Iberoamericana, this is a Jesuit University, and next semester I´m gonna be teaching Adobe After Effects in a subject for a program called: Diseño de Interacción y Animación Digital, in English would be Interaction Design and Digital Animation, this is like a bachelors degree, I am very excited, this is my first time teaching, I am a enthusiast in Motion Graphics, and have been preparing very hardly, studying and testing on new things in After Effects. I´ve reading your blog for about two months and it has been very helpful, I want to thank you for all the information, and I want to implement in my class one of your ideas, I want my students to elaborate 5 seconds projects as a part of their notes and portafolio, as they learn. I would like you to publish in your blog recommendations for teachers like me, you have done it for students, by the way your recommendations for students I think are very cool. I´ve been using After Effects for about 5 years, is not my profession I am doing it in my spare time, is like my hobby.

    I hope we can be in contact, and some day invite you to give a conference or a talk to all design students on behalf of the University. Of course the University will pay all your travel expenses and fees.


  • This is awesome! thanks 🙂

  • Loved the speech… I actually used it to convince a client that she didn’t need all the crazy stuff on the portfolio I was building for her… I had to add it to my blog. Thanks man.

  • very great advice job well done. Do you think you can come to SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) and speak and the annual Motion Graphic symposium “Inspire” lots of talented people in the industry come and speak.

  • really great presentation 🙂

  • Nice work to help young designers out there.

  • I really enjoyed the presentation Nick!, great recommendations!…it´s a shame the camera didn´t took a wider shot to see the slideshow´s sample work. Hope to see more of this in the near future! Thanks a lot!.

  • This is great to look at, thank you very much. I did learn a lot and I feel motivated to do stuff now. Thank you. ^_^

  • Hey Nick! Great to see you again. Pat Giller forwarded me this blog. Interesting stuff. I’ll share it with my IC402 students.

    Hey, I never saw your finished video that you did about vocal pauses. Remember when you interviewed me about this??? Where is it?

  • I think what you say is very important, I really enjoyed and think I learned important stuff with this video.

  • Very Interesting Presentation Nick, It has really good content…
    Im learning a lot of good tips from your cinema4d tutorials,help me in my projects
    I am your spanish number one fan 😉 keep it up

    Best Regards

  • Thanks! I like it, I’m not motion designer trying to learn to use Aftereffect and cinema 4d on wedsite.
    Thanks again
    Boaz From Uganda

  • Thanks a lot, i think this is the most useful lesson, speech, tutorial, or whatever you wanna call it, i’ve seen to improve my job. i really lack many of the skill you are focusing to be a better motion designer, but finally i clearly know! and resources you have posted will keep me busy for a time. i want to be an artist not a PC guy!

  • Hey dude, i LOVED the seminar, it helped me so much and cleared so many things up. I really needed that. I hope to be able to work with even you someday.. who knows yet.

  • nice pits

  • Words to leave by. Awesome resource. Working on my graphic skills as we speak.

  • I, too, found it through motionographer, and definitely took notes. It got my really excited. I’m new to the motion graphics thing, but during my internship I fell head over heals in love with it and used their resources to help me.

  • Tahnks for the presentation man, it was awesome.
    Please keep posting this kind of stuff, we really needed………….

  • very very useful information nick !! thank you so much ! i been learning from you !! and i got a job pretty much because of you ! you the best !

  • great man I loved this presentation so much 🙂

  • very useful
    thank you nick .

    greetings from iran .

  • Hi Nick!

    And thank you for creating such a great online resource.

    Nick I’m kinda tearing my hair out here.

    I have graduated with A 4yr Bachelor of Music Composition/performance, and have since stumbled across an intense passion for video editing incorporating loads of effects assets to make these crazy and whacky clips .

    The Idea of going back to school for another several years doesn’t really inspire me however I would like to move forward in the Digital Design Trade!

    How can I come out of this with the skill set required to produce outstanding work?

    Thanks Nick!

    example of my editing

  • Well done! Everyting you said was so true.

  • Hey, sorry but there are some points that really need to be adjusted to my mind:
    1. You said that design is so important. Look at the work of gkaster (now bright photon), he is not a designer as he points out in the interview with John Dickinson. And his work is much more fascinating than a lot of “designers” stuff.
    2. Look up to the best: that is something that I would absolutely avoid if you are not as professional as those people. Otherwise once will get frustrated easily (that is an often given advice not only by me…).
    3. Be cool! Ok, you probably will get good feedback being cool on the first meeting. But as I learned that “animation is concentration”, I experienced that those guys being cool all the time tend to be the most annoying and hated people in every day business.

  • wow! nice presentation Nick!
    i like your work!

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