Why didn't I get accepted to Rolo?
Nov 11, 2022
As Rolo has grown, this is a conversation we’ve been having to have a bit more often. Admittedly, this is kind of awkward. It’s kind of like when you are dating someone and they say “It’s not you, it’s me”. While this is partially true, there are a lot of factors at play here that influence these decisions.
We’re creating this article to provide as much transparency as we can behind the inner workings at Rolo and how we are attempting to guide the site’s growth.
First, the “us” part
Rolo is very new so I’d be remiss if I didn’t start by saying that we are still figuring a lot of this out as we go. Rolo began fairly spontaneously one day as a “wouldn’t it be nice if this existed” kind of conversation over coffee down in the tropical paradise of Florida. To our surprise (and with a lot of hard work) this idea very quickly blossomed into the first working MVP and now it has become a site with a few hundred amazing artists on it. That is crazy!
While Rolo is still very new, both of us have a tremendous amount of experience running and managing community-based projects in the motion design space. Joey with the educational behemoth that is School of Motion and Joe with his previous work running Motionographer and later starting Holdframe. Together, we’ve learned a lot through these experiences and they’ve guided a lot of our decision-making for Rolo. Mainly, we don’t want to make many of the same mistakes twice.
Anyone who has managed a large collection of anything can attest to the fact that the bigger it gets, the harder it can be to wrangle and in turn, the harder it can be to find what you are looking for…
Aimless growth isn’t always a good thing
Anyone who has managed a large collection of anything can attest to the fact that the bigger it gets, the harder it can be to wrangle and in turn, the harder it can be to find what you are looking for, whether that be Pokemon cards or reference images for a project.
We’ve all been there. We start with the best intentions. Hand-picking just the right images for what we have in mind, only collecting the best references, naming everything with painstaking detail, and every file going into the perfect folder. We radiate with pride in the ironclad folder structure that we’ve created! Then, you’re running late for a meeting, you’re distracted or fatigued from not getting enough sleep and you commit the first cardinal sin and save something to your Desktop or leave a file in the Downloads folder… From there, cracks begin to form in your perfect system. Before you know it there are Untitled folders everywhere and you are saving files as finalFinalFINAL_v05.jpg. And just as it happened with the fall of Rome your organization system is gone and anarchy ensues…
That is what we want to avoid with Rolo. Even though we are setting ambitious goals, and we do want the site to grow rapidly, we’re still reviewing each artist to ensure that they are the right fit for Rolo, right now.
If I didn’t get in now, then when?
This is a hard question to answer. As with most things, timing is a huge factor. We do not have quotas on Rolo but at the same time, we are mindful of what is represented on the database and what the balance is. Our goal for Rolo is for it to be an ever-growing and amazing site that represents the wide range of mediums in our field as well as the diversity of artists and various backgrounds that make up this community.
A good way to illustrate this: 3D Design is huge right now. With tech companies flocking to work in the 3D space (take a look at any of the amazing Microsoft films in recent years), and the boom of daily renders and NFTs, everyone seems to be a 3D artist nowadays. We want the full spectrum of 3D represented on Rolo but, we also don’t want 3D to completely take over Rolo. While it is a dominant trend right now, it’s only one of the many facets that make up this medium. To balance that, right now, that likely means we need to view each 3D applicant with a bit more scrutiny to make sure we don’t tip the scales one way or the other.
That might not be fair for the individual but it is what is best for Rolo’s growth and for Rolo to be as inclusive of a place as it can be and one that represents all styles of motion design. That is just one example and this is something where the goalposts will always be moving.
I get that, but what are you looking for?
Again, another hard question to answer.
With Rolo we have to acknowledge that not everyone’s background is the same, not all markets are created equal, and not every individual has had access to the same types of opportunities. An artist in New York City is going to be exposed to many more and much better opportunities than another artist in a lesser-known market. We try not to base admission into Rolo solely on the quality of the clients and the scale of the projects an artist has worked on but on what went into each project. Whether that be a multi-million dollar campaign or a motion test.
We are not prioritizing earnings, awards, blog features, how often someone is booked, or any other standard measures of success as a professional artist. We are looking for work that stands out, whether or not that artist has ever been paid for their troubles.
With how vast our field is there is no way to have a definitive checklist of what we are looking for but when reviewing work we generally look at:
How expected or unexpected is the work?
Does the artist have a clear voice and a unique point of view?
How does this work stack up again similar work already on Rolo?
Is this work coming out of an emerging market?
Does the work demonstrate a strong understanding of design principles?
Does the work reflect an accurate use of animation principles?
Is this artist embracing new mediums or emerging technologies?
Is the work just passable or did they dive deep into the details?
Another moving target, we know, but at the end of the day we have reviewed a lot of portfolios and you can tell when a portfolio has truly been cared for and considered. That is what we are looking for when it comes to the artists on Rolo.
Some questions to ask yourself
Am I putting my best foot forward?
How up-to-date are my website and social channels?
If a creative director or client were to visit my site, is it in the top 30% of sites they may visit?
Does my site or reel have any tutorial-based work in it?
Do I need to trim the fat or does my site represent a cohesive and unified vision?
That too we are still figuring out. We hope that Rolo isn’t an elitist or exclusionary place and becomes a place where the vast majority of artists' work can be represented and celebrated.
If you applied and were rejected, we strongly urge you to apply again after your 3-month window is up. Remember there are two sides to this: where we are at with Rolo and the health of the collection, and the merit of each application. Both are constantly evolving. It’s entirely likely that you didn’t get in right now because we are a bit bloated in one particular niche. And if not, try to take to heart some of the items we listed above, and take an objective look at your work, does any of that apply to you and the work you are representing in your application?
The reality is, this isn’t a perfect science. Neither of us is infallible. Our main goal though is to make Rolo a healthy and eclectic place on the internet that celebrates the various artists in our space and in turn helps them get the right project that aligns with their creative goals.
We’re eternally grateful for all of your support in helping make this a reality.