Hear the story behind Motionographer, the online community for motion graphics artists, animators, and filmmakers around the world, and its founder Justin Cone, in this short inspirational documentary.
(ambient electronic music) - Motionographer is a kind of curatorial space where we showcase outstanding work in the fields of motion graphics. We have articles and interviews with people who are important in some way or inspiring in some way.
- It's something that the industry needs. I don't think motionographics is given the value that it should be given. There's not a place like Motionographer where you can go and see what people are doing. - [Justin] I like to think of Motionographer as giving a spotlight to people and projects that maybe otherwise wouldn't have a spotlight, or at least not one that burns quite as hot as it does sometimes on Motionographer. - It's really about moving the industry forward. Our mission statement, or credo, is like, we will never, ever, ever compromise what Motionographer is about, because of money or influence or power or anything.
So that's the basics of Motionographer and the soul of Motionographer. (ambient electronic music) - [Justin] The thing I love about motion design is work that communicates some message so clearly and powerfully that the viewer is changed by it. It sits at the intersection of things I love already, graphic design, animation, filmmaking.
And it involves a lot of other things as well. Sound design and music composition, hugely important. And it's also grounded in technology that's always changing. It's a super exciting field to be involved in. It's never stale. - I think he was the first, or one of the first, to have a blog about motionographics, and I fell in love with the website. I would wake up every morning to see what Justin posted. And at one point, Justin posted that the new Stash DVDs came out, which was like the competition.
Stash was motionographics on DVD, instead of online. And that he couldn't afford it, or something like that, so I bought it for him without knowing him, and then sent it to him. So, since then, I've been with Justin, working for, I call him my work husband. We've been work husbands since 2007. 2006, 7. - Carlos is a super unique guy. He's really good at recognizing talent in different ways, and when he sees somebody that he likes for whatever reason, he is relentless.
He will go after them with everything he has, until he's working with them in the way that he wants to work with them, and I guess I was (chuckles) one of those people. I was in his cross-hairs. So he had some ideas about projects he wanted to do. He wanted to start a festival. And I knew that he had experience that would help with Motionographer, and so we very quickly formed an alliance. He's a co-founder in that kind of Silicon Valley start-up sense of the word, where it's like, it wasn't really a venture until Carlos got involved, because up until that point, it was just like this, I don't know, kind of hobby.
What drew me to (ambient electronic music) writing and curating about motion design was motion design itself. I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. (chuckles) And I think a little panic set in around my senior year. It was at the height of the dot com craze, into the 1990s, and I realized, oh my god, I have a degree in creative writing. Like, I'm screwed, (chuckles) basically. My friend invited me to Austin for an internship.
He was like, I'll teach you HTML, you'll be fine. It's the dot com, everybody... If you knew HTML, you're golden, right? And so, he taught me HTML, and I also learned Flash for the first time. That was my first timeline experience ever. And all these lights started going off, and I kind of realized that maybe I hadn't chosen the right discipline to study in school. Maybe I should've just always been a writer for fun, but maybe I should've actually done graphic design or filmmaking or something.
Seeing the work of people like MK12 and GMUNK and Lobo and Psyop and Brand New School, that was incredibly important in showing me what was possible. I thought, I need to keep track of this somehow, (chuckles) so I knew how to build websites. That's what I was doing for my day job. And I thought, okay, I'll make a website. And so I called the site Tween. This was the predecessor to Motionographer. And for a while, I was just writing for myself. I didn't know anybody that was really paying attention to it. But then I started getting emails from people, and they were sending me their work and asking me to post it on Tween.
And I was like, wait, what's going on here, exactly? Then I started getting people really early on asking if they could also post work, like, kind of be a collaborator or a contributor. And I said, well, yeah, I guess so, 'cause I didn't really have any plan for it. The word tween, which, to me, is an animation term, started to mean, I guess for social scientists, it's like, kids who are like ages 10 to 12, they're in between their teen years, I guess. So I started getting emails from people like, can you give my resources for my 12-year-old son, he wants to smoke.
And I'm like, I don't know, this is, no. (chuckles) We need to change the site name. So it slowly, or maybe quickly, snowballed from there, until 2006, when I decided to go back to school at the Savannah College of Art and Design, SCAD, and kill Tween and launch its successor, which is Motionographer. I'm a self-taught designer, animator, and...
I think that probably fueled my decision to go back to school. I think I had, and still have, a lot of insecurity around that. And so, it was kind of a no-brainer for me to do that. I didn't anticipate the amount of time and energy that I would want to put into Motionographer. There were many times when I found myself having to make a decision between, do I do my homework (chuckles), or do I write another, one more post for Motionographer? And nine times out of 10, I would do the post for Motionographer.
(ambient electronic music) People were calling me an expert and inviting me to speak at different places around the world, and I felt like, I am a creative writing guy. I'm not even that good at design, I'm not that good at animation. I don't deserve this, you know. So I really struggled with that.
It was really tough. I wanted to throw in the towel on Motionographer, more than once. And through a combination of having really strong contributors on the team, and also my business partner, Carlos, kind of keeping things afloat, Motionographer's still around, to this day. - He wanted to quit it, he wanted to, he couldn't do it anymore. And that's when we decided to talk about, don't close Motionographer. Please don't do it. The industry loves it.
So, let's be partners. And I'll help you behind the scenes. - When you feel like you're suffering from impostor syndrome, the first thing to do is to reach out to the people that you think aren't impostors. Because when you reach out to them, and you tell them you're suffering from this impostor syndrome, they're going to tell you they are too. The people that I've seen survive and do the best, get through all the impostor syndrome stuff, are the people who have found the kind of zen-like joy in the act of creating, in the act of making stuff.
And the sooner you do that, the sooner you shift your motivation away from that insecurity of impostor syndrome, then you'll be great, you'll be golden. And I've found, I think, that career success usually follows shortly after. (ambient electronic music) If you have a website of any kind, even if it's just your portfolio, you're going to probably get some kind of criticism.
And in Motionographer's case, a lot, because we're very public and we're posting a lot of things and making value judgments about them. What I quickly learned was that I needed to an editor. A lot of times, valuable criticism is buried in really abrasive language, so you can brush off all that abrasive language, find the nugget of truth in it, and say, okay, what can we do to change this? Is there some truth to this? Yes, there is some truth to it.
What can we do? - Motionographer has a lot of people that works behind the scenes, people don't know that. There's like 15 curators, and everybody, if you see the emails, it's, everybody's like, no, this is Motionographer quality, this is not. Let's put it in, let's not put it out. It's not just Justin choosing. - You know, I'm not in the industry really anymore, not in any kind of official capacity. And these people are, it's their day-to-day life. And so they're going to have insights about what's happening on the ground that I just won't have.
But they also have a different perspective on everything, on their own kind of personal experience of motion design, and I think that diversity is incredibly valuable. One thing I should have done a better job of is cataloging all the stories that I've gotten over the last 10 years. Some were really simple, like, I discovered motion graphics because of your site, which is cool.
And some of 'em are much more complicated. People saying, I launched my career because of you. Initially, when I would hear these stories, I wouldn't accept that we were playing that role, but people have told me enough over time that, yeah, no, it's been important. It increasingly isn't about, (ambient electronic music) did you see the coolest new spot from Studio X? It's increasingly about, I think maybe I am not getting paid as much because I'm a woman.
Or, the way that we do booking in the freelance world needs to change, 'cause it's broken. Those are the things that seem to be mattering more and more, these kind of substantial, sometimes controversial topics, that have less and less to do with, did you see the latest project from Studio X? I mean, now, we started a crowdfunding campaign, that's an ongoing crowdfunding campaign, and that's a great opportunity for people to be emotionally and financially invested in Motionographer.
And I'm curious to see how that changes the dynamic between myself and the other curators and writers and the community at large. But, mostly, the community is the source of what we're going to do next, what matters, what is it that people need. And there's a lot of opportunity there for the members of the community to decide that, to change it.