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The role of a Graphic Designer is all about adapting to whichever and whatever brief is thrown our way. We are originally trained within the static illustrative or typographical route to create anything from brand identities to advertising campaigns and even explore the UI and UX route within design.

Getting to grips with motion design

Within my graphic design degree, I will always remember starting my second year in a different location to where we had previously had our lectures, the animation suite. I remember how confused our class was and even more confused when our lecturer said we would be learning the basics of Aftereffects that lesson – “we aren’t animators” we thought. My lecturer stated it was the “future” of design and at the time we were annoyed and in disbelief that we were being “forced” to do these sessions when none of us had touched motion before.

The rise of motion

Three years later, I’m grateful my lecturer did that and realise he was correct. Nowadays most designers focus entirely on the motion route or have a flexible design lifestyle showcasing their standard and new motion skills. Motion is much more likely to capture the attention of a consumer which is why so many designers expand their skill and portfolio to cater this need. In 2020, there was a huge uprise in designers moving into motion with the rise of the digital world and the time to build new skills due to covid-19.

With apps like TikTok as well as Instagram reels, stories and video ads growing in popularity, brands have an opportunity  to advertise in a new way. According to Hubspot, in 2022, online videos will constitute more than 82% of internet traffic and 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool – on top of this, 92% of marketers use video as an important part of their marketing strategy. This is down to the way people consume their feeds so quickly, meaning  content needs to capture attention immediately  and in the most engaging way possible, therefore, video is the preferred route for the majority.


Why do designers spend so long perfecting their static style to end up in motion? Do they abandon their original style and go full time motion? Well yes and no, those existing skills are seen as the main body, and you use and adapt them to only take each design further and one path is motion. The biggest perk is the versatility motion provides. It allows you to converse the space and keeps the image in a consumer’s head longer.

Have a load of data that needs to be present on a design without looking overwhelming? Animate each stat onto the page at a time and loop it. Have a simple logo and want to make it more eye-catching? Add simple yet subtle movements which bring it to life less seen as “abandoning old skills” and is more about embracing new ones to make those original skills better – it’s all a form of design language. Creating a design with motion allows it to become a universal asset that can be displayed on anything digital which therefore allows content that is much easier and more enjoyable to consume.

The designer’s thoughts

It’s not only exciting for clients to receive motion work but for designers to create it. A common thought amongst digital designers regarding motion is that they like to be challenged now. Motion design was a skill I was encouraged to pursue when I first joined connective3 and was given the opportunity to do so. This is becoming a lot more common within other agencies too.

Designer, Mat Voyce, says, “For me, motion was originally about trying to learn a skill that agencies would find useful in a new team member,” he explains, “after I got started with the basics, I had the desire to practice, get better and learn to give my work more character and personality. I feel strange sharing illustration and typography that doesn’t move or animate and now design something with motion in mind, even if it’s supposed to be static!”. This is something that most designers should have at the back of their mind – if this was to move; how would it work, what would move and how would it engage a viewer?

The basics

Within motion design, the key software used is After Effects. This program is in the Adobe family and allows you to use keyframes to create different kinds of animation. Initially it’s a tad fiddly and can be seen as really overwhelming when you first see it (I can safely say that was my exact reaction when I first opened it) but once you grasp the basics you will be able to create a successful motion design. Other variations designers use are Adobe Premier Pro, Jitter and Principle, which are also good pieces of software for those who want to get started. It’s honestly never been easier for designers to take that step into motion with endless possibilities of where your designs can be bought to life.

The future

So how does this affect the future for designers? Will static go out of date, and will everything be focused on just motion? Well before you all start applying for motion degrees and hang up your illustrative skills, realise the vitality of why static exists. Everything needs to start out that way.

In my opinion you can’t understand and be successful within motion design without knowing the foundations of static design. It’s a process that takes your design that step further, creating more digestible and engaging content. Keeping up with the competition and adapting to showcase your designs within the digital world. In the end, the design route you go down should be based on if it’s going to work for your campaign and whichever and whatever you’re trying to showcase or sell. I for sure won’t be giving up doing my static illustrations anytime soon and neither should you.