Artist Spotlight w/ Deanna Reilly
Aug 29, 2023
First, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey everybody! My name is Deanna and I’m a designer, animator and art director. I’m originally from Canada, but I've spent the last 15 years living in Ireland which I now proudly call home. I love spending time with my family, watching horror films with my husband and drawing with our 7-year-old son. In my free time, I’m currently learning to play the drums and do handstands.
Before animation, I was a traditional graphic designer for 10 years. My passion for animation grew within this time and In 2018 I decided to focus my skills on motion design. Nowadays, I’m happiest creating beautiful things in 3D especially within projects that tell a compelling story with cool characters. My interests are expanding into dynamic simulations and VFX. I have a long way to go to achieve my goals, but I love the journey. My creative philosophy is to forever be a student and learn from people from all walks of life.
I’m really glad I took that risk to change career paths.I love my career now and I love where it’s heading. I love our industry and the people who are working hard to foster collaboration between artists of diverse backgrounds and to celebrate underrepresented voices with authenticity and clarity.
Can you tell us about your experience and the role you are primarily filling?
I’m currently working full-time at BIEN - an amazing studio dedicated to inclusive motion design. I’m really proud to be a part of a team that honors diverse perspectives, inclusive of ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, and experience level. For each project that we work on, we try to build a diverse team. Collaborating with freelancers who possess personal experience of the subject matter brings heightened authenticity and awareness to our work, and this partnership has guided me to pursue inclusivity in all aspects of my life. I think this is super important for our industry and to encourage future artists to work and thrive together.
At BIEN, I help in most areas of art production. My strengths reside in the 3D side of things - an area I’m very passionate about. I’m constantly nerding-out about making the 3D look 2D. Don’t get me wrong - I love Redshift too! But for me, there’s something really satisfying about combining workflows, and blending mediums.
With art direction at BIEN, we work in a lot of different styles which means I often get to work closely with freelancers with a wide variety of skill levels and backgrounds. We have an amazing resource manager. I get to work with her, the CD, and producer to build the team from the ground up, which is really special, albeit super challenging. Art direction has taught me a lot about working with people and challenges me to be a better person and artist everyday.
If you could speak directly to the resourcing gods and powers that be, what would be your ideal project?
Oh there’s so much I’d love to do especially within the tv/film/entertainment world. I really want to work on opening titles and big narrative projects. Ideally, something really dark, and quirky. I always root for the underdog, so my ideal project would include a tale about an underprivileged renegade hero who wins in the end. There’s a fascinating level of complexity with narrative storytelling that requires both creative and technical problem solving. I find those challenges exciting. To produce animations at the level I’d like to, I need close collaboration with illustrators, cel animators and other 3D specialists (for example) who are way better than I am at their part of production. When you have the right team working together you can produce something bigger than any one person can do on their own.
Do you have any dream clients?
It would be a dream to one day work on a feature film. Pixar, Sony Pictures, or a Marvel film come to mind. I remember when I was a kid watching The Incredibles for the first time. That was the film that really inspired me to work in animation, although it seemed impossible at the time. It would be really fulfilling, not only to see that childhood dream become a reality, but to have my son watch a film I worked on and be similarly inspired. Also, to see my name in a super long credit list of a successful film is on my bucket list.
Lastly, do you have any memorable stories, life lessons, or tall tales you can share from your adventures as a freelancer?
I think my journey into freelancing and motion design in general was non-standard. Here’s my story: In 2018, I decided to change career paths. I started by taking School of Motion courses. I took Animation Bootcamp first, followed by Explainer Camp. My husband shared my final project (Mombi) with the CEO of his company. She loved it and hired me to create a teaser animation for the launch of their new product. Yay! I had my first client! I was so pumped, I decided to quit my web graphics job of 8 years to freelance as a motion designer. I didn’t even have a reel, but I did have a lot of ambition and a very supportive husband. The animation turned out great by the way! I wish I could say I was fully booked all the time after that, but I struggled a lot with freelancing in my first 2 years. In that time I continued to take SOM courses and work on personal projects. After I took C4D Basecamp, SOM approached me to help on their brand manifesto piece with Ordinary Folk. It was a dream job! I'm pretty sure putting that shot in my reel opened up a lot of doors for me.
I’m really glad I took that risk to change career paths.I love my career now and I love where it’s heading. I love our industry and the people who are working hard to foster collaboration between artists of diverse backgrounds and to celebrate underrepresented voices with authenticity and clarity. In doing so, freelancers from all walks of life are provided the opportunity to grow and accomplish their dreams without compromising their authentic selves.
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