Interview with Motion Designer Ian Wilmoth

I had a chance to interview Ian Wilmoth, who is a Maya character animator as well as an After Effects artist. He freelances in New York for studios like Psyop, Hornet, Superfad and Brand New School. He is also part of a collective called Dirt Empire.

What did you study at school?

Traditional animation, 3d animation

How did you get into your first job in the industry?

Through a friend of a friend from school looking for an animator, and having a demo reel ready to show

Tell me a bit about where you work and what they specialize in. Are you at a studio? Freelance?

I freelance mainly in the NYC motion graphics/short form VFX scene at shops such as Psyop, Hornet, Superfad, Brand New School, etc. I am also part of a collective studio called Dirt Empire ( where I work on personal projects or commercial gigs that for whatever reason aren’t being run through an established post shop, which usually turn out to be music industry related. We recently worked on the onscreen graphics for the Beyonce performance at the billboard awards, for example.

How long have you been in the industry?

Full time since 2006. Prior to that I worked in the games industry from the time i graduated the Rhode Island School of Design animation department in 1999.

What software do you use?

Maya, Photoshop, After Effects

How would you describe your style?

It varies from extremely hand made looking to completely invisible. I would say I tend to shy away from more clean and simple flat design oriented things in favor of something with an element of more coherent 3d space.

Do you have any hints for people interested in the industry, any ideas on how to get started in motion graphics?

Go to school for it. If you can’t do that, you’ll have to learn everything and put together a reel in your spare time, which makes a hard task harder. You will get much better face to face networking opportunities in school. Go to the best school you can get into. It can’t hurt.

Are there one or two things you wish you had known when you were just starting out?

How important it is to network and do your best to not antagonize anyone who may later be in a position to recommend you. How unimportant it is to know every single piece of software. Learn a few things really well.

Are there any plug ins, tools or books that you have found recently that you would recommend?

I know its not that new but I’ve been having a lot of fun with particular and 3d space in After Effects lately. Its new to me.

Do you have any websites or books that you turn to regularly for inspiration and training? for After Effects tutorials, highend 3d forums or just google in general for maya questions.

What is the single most important thing you need to do or be to excel in our industry?

A talented artist. if you suck then the rest of it doesn’t matter. you can learn how to act professionally later on but if you have no innate talent you wont even get in the door. It’s very competitive.

If you could have a dream job in the industry, what would it be?

Getting paid to create my own personal animations 🙂

Special thanks to Ian for taking the time to share some advice with us. You can find him at


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