Leading female animators OK Motion Club on how to perfect your portfolio

In partnership with Adobe.

In The OFFF Dispatch we’ve partnered with Adobe to report back from OFFF Barcelona, one of the world’s largest showcases of creativity, art and digital design. Here, animators Amanda Schrembeck and Linda McNeil share their best creative advice.

OK Motion Club creates eye-popping animation full of colour, energy and life for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Co-founded by Amanda Schrembeck and Linda McNeil, OK Motion Club is an Atlanta-based, women-run studio, where creating unparalleled creative work and giving back go hand-in-hand.

Inclusivity and opening doors for others is a core pillar of OK Motion Club’s mission. Amanda and Linda host talks, workshops and run initiatives, such as Ladies, Wine & Design, to inspire, empower and share skills with women and non-binary people in the creative industries.

This passion for supporting others is also a core value of OFFF Barcelona, which brought together innovative professionals in the creative and design industries for three days of masterclasses, talks, and workshops from 5-7 May.

Adobe, OFFF’s main partner, will be creating a space for these conversations through the Adobe Creativity Hub, where attendees will hear from the best designers in the field and learn about Adobe’s latest cutting-edge tools aimed at supporting creators of all kinds.

Here, Amanda and Linda discuss why focussing on the work you really want to do is the secret to creating a winning portfolio.

What interests you most about OFFF? Why is it an essential visit for creatives like yourselves?

Amanda: They do such a great job pulling a variety of talent, as well as the smaller activations like Adobe Live Sessions and panel discussions to spotlight up-and-coming artists. Not to mention that it’s hosted in Barcelona; an incredible city that is already a hub for art and creativity.

Tell us about what you’ll be doing at OFFF and why you wanted to take part in the Adobe Portfolio Reviews?

Linda: We’ll be giving a talk at OFFF on how we built our studio, as well as taking part in a discussion called Women at Work by Hey, about female creatives in our industry. We’ll also be taking part in the Adobe Portfolio Reviews, which is important to us because it relates to our core values of wanting to help individuals break into the industry.

Do you remember the first time you had to deliver a portfolio for review? What did you learn from the experience?

Linda: I remember having a portfolio review after college with a studio in Atlanta. They critiqued the hell out of my work. But to be fair, they gave me a lot of helpful advice. My portfolio at the time looked like any other college student’s. I needed to showcase work that spoke to me and the work I wanted to do.

How did you break into the creative industry? And how did your portfolio play a role in that?

Amanda: I went to a university for a fine arts degree in printmaking. So I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in art after school. But because of [printmaking] being such a hard industry to make a successful career in, I ended up moving into graphic design and then later animation.

I actually made up a fake portfolio to be able to land that first graphic design gig – and by fake, I mean none of the work inside was real life projects from clients. I just came up with random prompts in order to prove I could do the work. My portfolio was crucial to me landing that job. You just have to be willing to adjust your portfolio and add work relevant to whatever the role is.

What are your top tips for creating the ideal portfolio? What are the most important things to consider? And what are the major pitfalls to avoid?

Linda: Only share the type of work that you want to work on. If you don’t have that experience, create fake projects similar to the work you want to do. Avoid putting in projects that you didn’t like working on, because otherwise you’ll be getting more of that kind of work.

Amanda: It’s always good to adjust your portfolio for whatever role you’re applying to; unfortunately it’s not one-size-fits-all. You might need to add or remove work to better cater to that client.

Is there a particular piece of advice you have received that had a huge impact on you?

Amanda: I had an old boss tell me to focus on ‘doing only the work that you can do.’ I’m someone who tends to take on too much work and tell myself that I can handle everything. But that line resonated with me: I should focus on my strengths and let other people help me with the rest, so I have more headspace to create my best work.

What is the one thing you think most important to help you stay at the top of your creative game?

Linda: I think finding inspiration from multiple sources can help keep your creative momentum high. It could be from seeing live music, going to an art museum, or just going for a walk in your neighbourhood. Also, remember to take time off. You’ll get burnt out if you work too much, so consider taking breaks as part of the process.

How do you and your team approach a new project? Tell us a bit about how your team works.

Amanda: There isn’t one way we approach projects because every project scope and client request is different. It depends on the client’s needs and wants, as far as style goes. Then we consider the availability between the two of us. Sometimes we just trade off who leads based on who led the previous project. But sometimes one of us is better suited, depending on our different expertise.

How do you use Adobe products in your work?

Linda: We use all the Adobe products but we tend to use After Effects and Photoshop the most. We usually start out by sketching or just writing down a few key notes before we jump into a project.

Tell us about how Adobe products have been part of your creative journey?

Amanda: Both Linda and I are self-taught in animation. Adobe Creative Cloud makes it really easy to try out new programs, like After Effects or Animate, to just see what you can create. You never know, it could lead to a whole new career!

What excites and inspires you about Atlanta, the city you live and work in?

Linda: Atlanta often gets overlooked next to US cities like New York or Los Angeles, which I feel like puts Atlanta in a unique position to thrive in a way unlike other major cities. There’s a lot of room to grow in Atlanta and the creative community here is incredibly supportive. It’s also culturally diverse and open for collaboration. There are multiple creative avenues to find inspiration in Atlanta, from the ever-growing music scene to artist collectives and organisations.

Follow along for more stories from The OFFF Dispatch and learn more about OFFF Barcelona at offf.barcelona

Watch Adobe Live on-demand, which took place at OFFF from 5-7 May, and check out what’s new in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Published 9 May 2022

Tags: Adobe Adobe Creativity Hub OK Motion Club The OFFF Dispatch

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