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Wavebreak Media Designer Spotlight | Clodagh Slade

This month, we’re putting a spotlight on our designers here at Wavebreak Media to find out how they followed their hearts and creativity to work in design. Learn what inspires them and what the project of their dreams would be. Here’s Clodagh Slade’s story:

I’m a Senior Motion Graphics Artist in Wavebreak Media and have been working in the multimedia industry for almost 6 years. I love cinema, animation, and illustration and I am no good at writing about myself.

Where did you study design?

Cartoon illustration of a girl with books and a cup of coffee - The winding path from science to a career as a graphic designer - Image

Well, I took the long way round to get where I am now and I actually started off studying Genetics at University College Cork. Since school, I had always been on the path to studying either science or art and seeing that there was a global recession at the time (cough 2008 cough) I thought a career in a scientific field would be the obvious choice. So I did that for a year, hated it, and then left! 

I worked and saved to go back to college and decided to study animation but no course existed at the time outside of Dublin (and who has Dublin money?) so I went to study Video Production at Limerick Institute of Technology. There was one single module that had After Effects projects and I was hooked since then. 

I would create motion graphics animations in my spare time and tried to make every project I made a mograph one to the point where a lecturer asked me (and NOT in the nice, fun way), “Why are you studying video production at all?!” 

I took up extra courses in graphic design and web development around this time to help me understand and implement better design techniques in my work. It was a roundabout way to get here but I'm still trying every day to get better!

Describe your signature design style, how did it develop?

Vertical style social media template with a tropical neon vibe - How to develop your signature style in motion design - Image

I wouldn't say I have fully found a signature style yet with motion graphics as part of my job involves switching from corporate slick logo reveals to fun little comic-style lower thirds but I have found that I am drawn to use bright, bold colours and experiment a lot with different textures whenever I get the opportunity. 

I love working on hand-drawn style, sketchy motion graphics projects, and experimenting with different paper textures, lens textures,grain, and noise. Mixing everything with blend modes to get different effects and messing with masking and displacement are some of my favourite styles to work on!

I also make a very poor attempt at Illustration in my spare time and I would say my preferred style in this area is drawing cute little characters for fun. :) I worked on a year-long challenge beforehand in 2019 to draw every day for the year and save up for an iPad Pro and developed the habit of drawing almost every day! For accountability, I posted on Instagram and joined a community of people who were also challenging themselves in this way. I use Procreate to make my illustrations these days.

If you could work on an exciting project of your choice in a world where anything is possible, what would it be?

Cute fishing gear character illustration - What motion designers dream of working on - Image

I would love to work on a Wes Anderson film! I don't mind what job, just to be a part of one would be great! 

The cinematography is fantastic, the colour palettes and all the small details down to the design of every element in each film are just amazing to me. The humour, storytelling, characters, costumes, set design, and even the graphic design for any print media used or shown in the movies make them so enjoyable to watch. I could go on and on about it in fairness. To be able to see and be a part of how all these elements come together from start to finish would be a dream come true.

What would be your advice to someone just starting out?

Rustic style chalky wedding - Advice for a beginner motion graphics designer - Image

The best practical advice I can offer to anyone starting out in motion graphics is to not forget about design principles. When you are learning how to use After Effects, or any other mograph tool, the learning curve can be quite steep. Getting to grips with the software can seem like the most important part of learning to be a motion designer but you can't neglect the design part of motion design. Being able to animate is only half of the problem. 

Practicing good design while learning the software is the best way to progress and develop as a motion graphic designer. Having a few creative outlets can help spark some inspiration too, so not limiting yourself to digital mediums is a great way to expand your skills.

What challenges have you faced on your design journey?

Seascape style illustration - Challenges of an Irish motion designer - Image

The biggest challenge I encountered early on was not being at the right place at the right time. As I mentioned already, there was the disastrous global recession just as I was about to go to college. When I left that course and figured out what I would be suited to, there was no educational program in Limerick to pursue an animation career further. 

I had to make the decision to study something sort of in line with what I wanted to do while pursuing what I really cared about in my spare time. It took a lot of hours alongside other jobs to upskill to the point where I may be hired for motion graphics!

What favourite moments from your career would you like to share?

Staying home vibes doodles made in Procreate - Memorable moments in the career of a motion designer - Image

The best moment so far has been finding out, from the Adobe Stock team that our Animation team's work was highlighted as influencing emerging trends on Adobe Stock. We weren't just following trends but we were influencing trends in motion graphics! Our work is sometimes featured in their highlights and their Adobe Trends marketing literature each year, so it's cool to see the impact our company has.

It's also amazing to see how end users change things up and use the templates for their projects. Feels great to see our motion graphics being used out in the wild! I have seen a few while randomly flicking between YouTube videos and I try to make a note of it when I do see them!

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of design?

Glitchy and vibrant image distortion template - What is the purpose of graphic design - Image

There are so many functions to design but to narrow it down, I think the main purpose of design is engagement. To engage your audience. If you engage your viewers then you are effectively communicating your message to them in a way that it will stand out and stay with them!