Creative Conversations: Shane Griffin + Brian Michael Gossett
The Young Guns Call for Entries opens May 1 and the launch party is next Thursday. Until then, we’re highlighting conversations by past winners twice a week. Today Shane Griffin (YGX) and Brian Michael Gosett (YG6) talk about the past, present, and future of motion graphics, as well as the trajectories of their own careers.
This interview, and many more, can be found in the YGX Annual.
Brian Michael Gosett: Thanks for choosing me to talk to, it’s very flattering.
Shane Griffin: No problem, thanks for being there when I was beginning my career and I had no idea what to do.
Brian: I still have no idea what to do honestly. I’m figuring it out ten years later….still wondering where I fit in.
Shane: So, you’re at The Mill now?
Brian: Yeah I am at The Mill, I just started about 5 months ago. I did a pitch with them before I accepted the staff job. It’s a really good experience. It’s been a big life-changing thing for us to move to New York but we’re having fun with it, we’re seeing it as an adventure.
Shane: So are you an L.A. native?
Brian: No actually originally from Texas and have lived in L.A. for about 8 years. And you live in Dublin, right?
Shane: Yes I do now.
Brian: So congratulations are in order for being awarded the Young Gun, I think that is awesome, you totally deserve it. I remember seeing your work in the judging. I had seen it before and I was familiar with it so as soon as I saw it, I thought you were a total shoe-in. So are you staff or freelance?
Shane: I was at Man Vs. Machine in London for 2 years. And then they were kind of taking a different direction. Me and so me of the other guys decided it wasn’t really what we wanted to do, no hard feelings or anything , we would just rather do something else. We had a lot of freedom there to create work straight from concept and design to execution. It was really good and really empowering to have that ability in the studio.
Brian: So what’s the name of your studio in Dublin?
Shane: Pirhana Bar
Brian: I looked at your work and it’s really impressive. Do you think that you have a visual style forming or do you look at things with a fresh pair of eyes for each project?
Shane: I approach every job really differently, I try not to re-use too many tricks unless I know they’re good and I want to get them in somehow, but I try not to.
When you look at my job do you see particular style there?
Brian: I do see a voice forming, and this is the interesting thing about motion designs, illustrations and graphic design. Motion graphics to me is merging filmmaking, graphic design, and illustration, and of course animation too. And when you talk about just graphic design in a pure sense, I feel like style is sort of the enemy. There’s a backlash against designers who have a specific style because designers are seen as these problem solvers who are supposed to approach a project and tailor a solution for that particular problem that they have at hand.
Whereas, I think an illustrator absolutely has to form a style because when an art director at the agency looks at a bunch of portfolios he will see a specific style and say that’s what I am looking for, for this particular thing. And then as a filmmaker, it’s more about voice, it’s more about the stories you want to tell and how you tell them. Therefore whether you are a designer in motion graphics or a director, you start to form your own opinion and your own voice.
Shane: And things change very much…
Brian: Yeah I would say our industry has developed in the last few years. It went from 2D heavy animation that was very derivative of print design, and now it’s going through growing pains. Are we doing live action? Are we doing video effects? Are we doing design? What are we doing? And everyone is just playing around with a bunch of things and from all of that I think a lot of artists in motion graphics are starting to form a voice. They’re saying, I’ve done all of that stuff, I really like it here. This is what I am really fascinated with and this is the way that I like telling my stories, and the way I like using these characters.
Your stuff doesn’t go that far out there but you’re kind of in between the photo real world and stuff that’s way far out there. And I am starting to see this. I see a voice forming that’s very object based. Where you’re moving a camera around these objects you’re telling a story or communicat ing a concept about a tone, about stories that are told through these objects.
“No matter what it is, you can investigate it with a camera and tell the story.”
Shane: Thank you very much. Yeah, I think when I approach a job I like to tell a story, whether it’s five seconds, ten seconds, forty seconds, whatever it may be. And I think no matter what it is, you can investigate it with a camera and tell the story. It sometimes doesn’t even have to move. I think there’s a lot to say for motion graphics having a real lack of good cinematography in it.
Brian: Yeah, definitely.
Shane: You see a lot of stuff with cameras all over the place and stuff popping out every where and it’s a bit of a shit fight to understand why this is actually being created or what people are trying to communicate. So in my style there’s a lot of stuff but it’s very stripped back.
Brian: So going back to Young Guns, what inspired you to try out? Were you just about to turn 30? How old are you? For me, I was about to turn 30 and I was like “shit I should go ahead and go for it because this is definitely the last time I can do it.” What sparked your desire to do it?
Shane: I’ve seen people who won and I thought maybe my work could be on par with them but I wasn’t really sure. I just wanted to test the waters and to see if maybe, even if I didn’t get anywhere with it, it may open some people’s eyes or some interesting people would see it. Literally not in a million years did I think that it was going to be selected.
Brian: Yeah, that was the same thing for me, I mean I was 29 going on 30 and I think by the time they announced it, it was after I had turned 30. I didn’t know where my work stood and they didn’t really have a whole lot of motion designers in the past years before that.
Shane: How did winning affect your career?
Brian: It was a huge confidence booster. I don’t know if you suffer from this, but I have a lot of self-doubt. You have this confidence sometimes, but then you also have this extreme self-doubt. Am I really good? What makes me good? Why I am continuing on, while some designers struggle to stay busy and to find work or to make it out of their small city? I was in Houston for years and I was going back to waiting tables and trying to find jobs, and it wasn’t until I got a lucky break to come out to L.A. that my career kind of took off. You have a lot of things that knock you down and then you work hard and then you get somewhere.