Tony Zagoraios Interview
Tony Zagoraios is an animator who has produced some great work that had previous been featured on Motional. The award-winning designer kindly answered a few of our questions which helped us get an insight into the way he works.
What is your design background?
Well basically I’m a self taught motion designer. I have a Bachelor Degree in Media & Advertising from London Metropolitan College but have no direct connection with animation. The truth is that I took some private lessons and courses but not any certificated diploma. Hard work , focus and long-term vision were my basic tools to achieve future goals.
You are currently director of award-winning Nomint. How did you land that role?
I had been working with Nomint many years before as a freelancer and then back in 2012, they asked to represent me as a Motion Director in UK/US. Basically, clients in many countries like UK are hiring a studio for work by asking specifically for a director they represent. It’s a very popular system nowadays, which is why you see many studios representing directors. Also I must say that I always loved Nomint’s work and style, a studio with a special design identity for sure.
Do you still freelance in your spare time?
Of course I freelance. I love working with many clients from abroad. Recently we worked for an agency in Brussels producing a promo for a great contest with a space theme. Also, I work a lot with countries like Russia ,U.S.A., France, & Spain . I really love the diversity that comes from clients and agencies/studios with different cultures.
How do you find your work? Do you pitch or do you have regular clients?
Well I must say that I’m grateful not to have to look for projects, but projects coming to me. I don’t know for how long that will last, but I will try to maintain it. I believe that delivering work with quality, style and a perception of how you see the world, will create a unique profile that many clients would like to take advantage of. I must admit that I have regular clients, but not too many because I want to keep myself continuing with new adventures and I pitch from time to time but not so often.
You seem to have a varied animation portfolio - from quirky and fun cel animation to brooding edgy 3d animation. How easy is it for you to you vary your style, and is there any one area you enjoy in particular?
When I started working I told myself that I wouldn’t let myself settle on a specific style. I really dislike when designers, animators are mastering a style or technique and they keep duplicating it from project to project. I find that this is the safe and easy way, so I try to move on by trying new things, working with new people from different specialties and combining ideas and techniques that can match well according to the brief. The challenge here is to keep your own distinct voice behind all these works.
What tricks and techniques do you use to create such atmospheric work?
I’m a big fan of mixing simple 3D stuff with a lot of post work and 2D additions in AE. I’m a maniac with the details, which means I can spend a whole day for 20 frames etc. I always want to create not only nice animations or atmospheres, but most of all, beautiful visual narrations with strong photography and a cinematic feel. Also I’m a big fan of glitch stuff and of course I’m crazy with numbers, symbols, geometry and typography. I always share many of my AE project files because knowledge is not a secret..and believe me I’m not holding anything important..So I’m sharing with 3 of my project files with you
What is your typical day like?
Not something extraordinary or unique. I really believe in the strength of daily routine. I wake up in the morning and of course grabbing my first coffee heading to the studio. I really enjoy hearing music while driving. During the day I may walk in the forest near to us for 10-20 minutes but not on a regular basis. When we finish our schedule I head back home, where I usually sketch and playing the guitar for about an hour and a half.
How important do you think social media is for you?
IT IS A MUST.I know many of us are still not aware of their importance. So it’s a great and useful tool. The main difference is how you choose to use them and that should be done wisely. Not overload your portfolio with useless stuff…be kind..play fair by leaving comments and feedback on others work. Don’t expect others to contact with you if you are isolated. Building a creative circle around you is always useful and most of all when this circle I being filled from talented artists.
Where do you pick up inspiration for your work?
It’s always tough to come up with an answer on that. I personally think that net inspiration is a great source but you should also live the real world in order to get the appropriate stimulations that will let your brain connect the dots between digital and analogue world. And MUSIC… a lot of music…
Who do you admire in the animation world?
Oh my…Too many too mention but I will give a try. Let’s say my first inspirations are people like Rob Chew and Chris Hewitt who were named DSTRUKT, then Makoto Yabuki was also a favourite artist and of course MK12 and Impactist. Nowadays, I really like the work of Danny Yount, Ash Thorp, Raoul Marks, Patrick Clair and motion designer dudes like Jr Canest, Phil Borst, Marcus Eckert, J-Scott, Rafael Morinaga, Markus Magnusson, Onur Senturk, Takuya Hosogane, Simon Holmedal, Simon Russel, Sander Van Dijk. Not forgetting to mention some of my favourite studios like LUMBRE, PLENTY, 2VEINTE, TENDRIL, TERRITORY, MANVSMACHINE and FRAME.DK.
Do you think there is a current trend in the animation?
Yes. Trends will always be hot because they are the ones that will make your work look “up to date” in your clients eyes or even to your colleagues & other animation friends and of course around the motion online community. For me, it’s what we Greeks say ῾῾ΠΑΝ ΜΕΤΡΟΝ ΑΡΙΣΤΟΝ” which, in our case, means try not to push that line which will make it look so obvious and meretricious. Cel animation is now a trend like that…but it will fade like all the trends, its nature…ever thing does its own life circle.
What would be your dream job?
The one I’m doing right now! I’m so happy being in an office next to the mountain of Ηymettus here in Athens and working with 5 other creative and awesome guys. My role as a Director in NOMINT UK is also an extra pleasure because its giving me the chance to work with many new clients from abroad. Of course I would also like to work on a big studio in U.S for a title sequence or something similar but its all about future goals.
What has been your favourite job to work on?
My favourite job until now has been one of my latest projects for the Greek Mastic drink named “SKINOS”, which is also very famous around Europe . There were so many things to organize with a great challenge behind the concept, where we had to get inspiration from our country but also embrace the Mediterranean spirit. The continuous travelling of the camera, the transitions among the scenes and the art direction found myself digging into the role of director and motion designer like never before. So risky when you have strong meanings to communicate through a motion piece that must be the perfect balance among a commercial product and art expression.
Do you feel you are still learning whilst working?
Loudly I say “YES”. I learn every day that passes and basically from my mistakes. The biggest tricks that I have achieved are a result of messing up and getting my hands dirty till the end. Never stop learning..and if you thing you have mastered the art of animation..start by learning how to draw etc. We need to keep feeding our brains..:)
What is the most important lesson you have learnt in your career?
I have many miles to cover yet but… I believe the most useful thing that I have learned until now is how I made my work stand out by putting my personality into my work. Filtering the outside environment and blending your own character into that. Bringing up your fears, obsessions, visions, and dreams can really create a result that no one can guarantee you will be successful at but at least is the greatest thing you can do as an artist instead of just mastering techniques and tools.
Let’s see your workspace...
What are the 5 things you couldn't live without?
My music ipod collection
My pencils and sketchbooks
My wife and daughter
And finally, what are your goals and aspirations?
Well my main goal is to keep creating stuff that I’m proud of and setting the bar for a high quality of standards. I really want to create a CG short film with live action footage and sharpen up my drawing skills more. Finally, always seeking the chance to work for a big movie as title designer.
Thanks to Tony for taking the time out to talk to us, and we hope to be seeing more of his great work in the future.
Posted: Thu 20th Aug 2015
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