Have you always wondered what it’s like to work in the creative industry?
We caught up with successful motion designer and animator Patrick Horan to find out what it takes.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be an artist. I would spend all of my free time drawing, colouring and making things. I always had such a strong love for cartoons and video games. I used to draw all of my favourite characters and stick them onto my bedroom wall, which wrecked my poor mother’s head since I would be constantly ruining the paint on the walls with all the Blu-Tack.
Have you always been interested in animation and design?
When I started to hit my early teens, I knew that design was my happy place. My art teacher in St Munchin’s secondary school, Marie Barry, was my role model and constantly gave me the push I needed to develop my creativity and I soon found myself becoming more aware of brand logos, advertising, film and animation. My love for animation stems from my love for cartoons, as it always fascinated me to see these imaginative scenes brought to life through the use of bright colours and bold characters.
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What did you study in college?
I studied Visual Communications at Limerick School of Art & Design and I absolutely loved every minute of it. I groan at the thought of having to learn through a textbook, and this course was the complete breath of fresh air where we learned our fundamental skills through practical briefs by coming up with creative concepts and executing them through illustration, typography and animation.
Talk us through your career to date.
Right before I finished my BA degree in Visual Communications, I had a 3-month stint in London as a design intern for Fishfinger Creative Agency. I ended up working on live client projects and illustrations, while also managing to break their coffee machine during my final week.
In the following year, I received a job offer with Dynamo in Dublin as a graduate designer where I worked on a ton of big household names and was heavily involved in the big rebrand for Today FM. After a year at Dynamo, I decided to dip my feet into the digital world by joining Deloitte Digital Dublin.
Their creative director, Claire Dowling is a fellow Limerick woman. She had been following my footsteps after seeing my final year showcase back at the LSAD Graduate Show. She got in touch with me and I decided to join the team as a Visual & Motion Designer, where I primarily worked on big UI/UX projects and focused on the animation elements to each of the projects.
My time spent developing my skills at Deloitte Digital made me realise that I wanted to pursue the world of animation even further, so I got in contact with Boys+Girls and became their first in-house motion designer and animator.
I currently jump between massive ongoing projects with some of Ireland’s biggest brands names including Three Ireland, as well as international clients such as ŠKODA and Jose Cuervo.
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I do love a good packaging design project now and then to flex the print muscles. Rebrand project I created for the good people at @eatfiid for their wonderful vegan friendly lunch bowl range, available in stores across the country, and order a sample box from their website right now! 💃🏼❤️🍲 . . . . . . . #packagingdesign #fiid #irishdesign #graphicdesign #designireland #illustration #brandidentity #identitydesign #typegang #creative #printdesign #typography #vegan #healthyfood #behance #dublin #designspiration
What skills do you need to become an animator?
The two biggest skills you need to make it as a motion designer/animator are diligence and patience! Learning to navigate the world of moving image is not an easy task, and can easily frustrate the most relaxed designers out there. It’s important to learn from your mistakes and keep pushing forward.
During my time in college, I only had to learn the basics. 90% of my animation skills have been self-taught through online tutorials and playing around with the tools and sliders in Adobe After Effects. That really is the best way to learn, especially if you have the drive to create something that is very left of field from your usual comfort zone!
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part of the job is when I’m given full reign of the creative brief, from the early concept development stages right up to the finished product. It really gives me a sense of accomplishment and ownership over the finished piece and it really helps showcase my dedicated skills as a designer.
The worst part is when you have to get through the ‘bread and butter’ type of jobs, which are so simple that you could almost do it in your sleep, but hey, someone’s got to do it, right?
What’s the biggest misconception that people have about your job?
Whenever I introduce myself to someone new and tell them ‘I’m a Motion Designer & Animator’, their immediate response is ‘Oh wow, do you create films for Pixar?’ A lot of people don’t know just how broad the world of animation is, but let’s be honest, it’s definitely a great misconception when people think that you’re working on the next big Disney film!
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What is a typical day like?
The first thing I do when I get into the studio in the mornings is make myself some tea and breakfast before knuckling down in front of my computer. After that, my days can vary depending on the type of projects that are happening in the agency. Somedays I could be working on a new rebrand project for the full week, or else I’m juggling between three or four projects that are reaching their finalised edits. The best days are when I get to illustrate and come up with ideas for the entire day and then come back in the following morning to start animating these imaginative scenes.
Is your job 9-5 or always on?
Technically my job is quite 9-5 in order to maintain that strong work-life balance. My brain is always ticking away with ideas which means when I get home from Boys+Girls, I collate some ideas for possible side projects, all while being as lazy as I can be after a full day of staring at my computer screen!
How do you get a good work-life balance?
A good work-life balance is super important to me. When I finish work, I limit myself from using my personal laptop unless it’s an urgent job or request. Music is a massive passion of mine, so I spend a lot of my free time disconnected from the outside world blaring my favourite playlists. I also try and start each year by getting involved in something that would be very left of field for me. I’ve just joined an LGBTQ+ inclusive team called the Emerald Warriors and loving every minute of it!
Who has been your biggest role model?
For me, female icons have always been the biggest role models in life. Two of my favourite women right now are Janelle Monáe and Lady Gaga, both of who are heavily involved in the pop music industry. They are always pushing the boundaries of creativity and breaking down the barriers for fellow women that struggle within the industry. Their determination, optimism and drive in life is something which I aspire to bring to my own career every day.
What is the biggest career lesson you have learned to date?
Never ever get hung up on the minor details! I’m a constant over-thinker. I tend to worry most about the smaller things in my career life when all I need to do is focus on the bigger picture. Just because you may have made a mistake right now does not mean you will make that same mistake again! It’s all about growth and moving forward.