Nice Moves was established in order to strengthen the Animation, Design, and Visual Effects community right here in Minnesota. Our first step involved creating tighter connections within the community through studio tours and networking events. Our next step? Identify and cultivate local talent through our new Nice Moves Mentorship Program. We’ve taken the time to meet each other, now we’re making time to help each other.

We are now accepting applications for both mentors and mentees! Enrollment will remain open without a deadline. We retain all mentee applications and review them for each new mentor, so you only have to apply again if you have updated information. If you have any questions, please email mentorships@nicemoves.org

If you are accepted into the program, you will be matched with a mentor/mentee. Everyone learns or teaches with a different style, so it is up to the individual mentors to structure their mentorship with feedback from their mentees. This could mean you meet in person twice a week, do video calls every weekend, or exchange emails once a month. It all depends on what works best for the mentor/mentee pair. Nice Moves will provide training, resources, and community support to the mentors to help them run their mentorship successfully.


Meet the mentors

Amber Navarette

Creative Editor

Make
About Amber

Amber has worked as a video editor and motion designer in the advertising world for almost 20 years. She started in-house video departments at ColleMcVoy and space150. She worked at Volt Studios for over 9 years and most recently joined the team at Make in the sprint of 2021.

Minimum Requirements for tools

Working knowledge of Adobe Suite. (Specifically Premiere, After Effects and Photoshop)

Experience Requirements

Must have a reel/website. If you are passionate about this field there should be no reason not to have a portfolio of work.

Mentorship “time limits”

No limit to communication, or time.

Type of Mentorship

Initial face-to-face meeting to layout expectations and goals. Interaction will mainly be over email/chat. My goal is to get your work looking great and to help you brand yourself in a way that can get you going in a career.

Additional Notes

I’m not a 3D artist so please don’t ask for me if that is your objective. My experience is in advertising so if that is your goal we’d be a good fit. I expect my mentees to respond quickly and deliver what is asked for.

Anna Faught

Freelance Art Director

Bright Bird
About Anna

Anna Faught is a freelance art director, motion designer and illustrator. For the past six years, she’s delivered video and illustration content for ad agencies, corporations, nonprofits, film festivals, and more.

Minimum Requirements for tools

Basic knowledge of Adobe Suite. (Specifically Photoshop and After Effects)

Experience Requirements

Must show portfolio and/or reel. Mentee can be self-taught, pursuing degree, or junior level artist working in the industry.

Mentorship Time Limits

3 – 6 months with milestones.

Type of Mentorship

Meeting once a month either in person or through Google Hangouts.

Additional Notes

Did your school teach you a wide range of skills and your not quite sure how all the pieces fit together? If you are interested in working in the motion graphics and advertising industry in the Midwest, I would be a great mentor for you. Generalists are highly encouraged.

Brent Larson headshot

Brent Larson

Senior Graphic Designer

Medtronic
About Brent

Brent Larson is a visual artist with 17 years of industry experience specializing in graphic design, illustration, 3D, motion graphics, video production, art direction, and creative project management. He has been with Medtronic since 2015. He is also a member of AIGA Minnesota and Chair of the In-House Designers Group.

Minimum Requirement for Tools

Working knowledge of and access to Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, AfterEffects, Premiere)

Experience Requirements

Portfolio and Demo Reel required. Mentee can be self taught, pursuing a degree, or working in the industry. Need to have clear goals with the passion, drive, and commitment to achieve them.

Mentorship “Time Limits”

We’ll discuss what works best for the length of the mentorship based on mentee goals/expectations. Ultimately the limit is up to the mentee as long as they’re focused, prepared, and committed to following through on the plan we develop.

Type of Mentorship

Brent will work with mentees to set up goals, milestones and expectations for mentorship. Initial meetings can be in-person or digitally with continued contact via phone or Google hangouts.

Additional Notes

Brent’s goal is to equip mentee’s with tools and knowledge that will aid in obtaining a career in the design and animation industry. He’ll give guidance/suggestions on branding yourself, building a strong portfolio, resume development, job hunting, interviewing, and if a freelance, studio, or in-house career path better aligns with the mentee’s goals. Brent has worked as a freelancer, studio artist, and In-house artist and will share insights from those experiences over the course of the mentorship.

brock-brown

Brock Brown

Concept Artist & Illustrator

We're 5 Games
ABOUT BROCK

Brock has been in the industry for 10 years and is currently a Concept Artist and Illustrator at We’re 5 Games. He has held several positions within the game development pipeline giving him an interesting bag of tools to pull from. He hopes to pass along as much knowledge of industry standards, general tips, and fun tricks as he can during the mentorship.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR TOOLS

Basic knowledge of Photoshop (or equivalent digital art program).
Knowledge of 3D programs is a bonus.

EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS

Must have a portfolio to review and add upon. 

MENTORSHIP “TIME LIMITS”

3 – 6 months with milestones, no limits on communication between meetings.

TYPE OF MENTORSHIP

Interaction will mostly be over email and video chat. Brock’s goal is for you to make a visible upgrade to your portfolio alongside gained industry knowledge that can give you a running start on your career.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Brock’s art leans more towards stylized work. If you are looking to improve at hyperreal work, he can point you in a helpful direction, but probably won’t be able to help you himself.

Chad Gilmour

Chad Gilmour

Lead Editor / Animator

MN Wild
About Chad

Chad Gilmour has worked for over 12 years in the advertising, marketing, and sports industry as a Motion Designer, Editor, and Producer creating award-winning commercials and content for clients and agencies all over the country and is currently the lead editor/animator for the MN Wild.

Minimum requirements for tools

Working knowledge of Adobe apps (PPro, After Effects, Photoshop). C4D not required, but is a bonus.

Experience requirements

Must have a demo reel and a portfolio of work/projects.

Mentorship “time limits”

3 months

Type of mentorship

Advisory: We’ll meet mainly virtually, twice a month to review and provide constructive feedback on reel and projects. I’ll offer guidance on your career path.

Additional notes

My main experience has been primarily in the marketing/agency space. If you seek a similar career path, lets talk!

Danny Robashkin

Danny Robashkin

Creative Director

MAKE

Looking for mentee

ABOUT DANNY

Danny Robashkin is the creative director and founder of MAKE, a commercial and original-content production studio. He is an MCAD graduate who has worked in almost all aspects and stages of the animation and VFX pipeline. Currently, his focus is on direction of animated & live-action commercials and shorts–as well as overall strategy and vision.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR TOOLS

Whatever tools are required to create high end work in your chosen discipline.

EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS

Ideally a person in a transition period. For example, someone about to graduate/recent graduate. Another example, perhaps, would be someone looking for a career change or a big step up in their roles/responsibilities.

MENTORSHIP “TIME LIMITS”

6 – 12 months with a specific goal/objective to reach.

TYPE OF MENTORSHIP

The goal of the mentorship would be to help the mentee achieve their stated goal. Benefiting from the knowledge and experience of the mentor, ideally the process can be optimized and potential pitfalls can be avoided. Meetings would happen bi-weekly or monthly, depending on mentorship duration/scope, to review progress and discuss next steps.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

It’s important that the mentee be ambitious and hard working. The expectations should be set very high, and the goal is to just barely reach those expectations. Doing whatever it takes (within reason) to achieve the goals we set should be intrinsic to the mentee’s approach to work.

Emma_Ozark

Emma Ozark

Illustrator / Animator

Freelance
About Emma

Emma Ozark is a stop motion animator, comics artist and 2D generalist specializing in character design. Open to critiquing already existing Stop Motion and 2D animated work, comics, character designs, educating people interested in learning stop motion, and working with animators/artists potentially interested in incorporating it into a fine art practice.

Minimum requirement for tools

Stop Motion Requirements: familiar with an animation program that can import and edit images, like Clip Studio Paint EXP, Adobe Photoshop, Dragonframe. Some kind of camera that can interact with computer and supplies for what objects/characters you want to animate.

Experience requirements

Portfolio/website/demo reel. Must use Discord or Telegram. Must either: want to learn stop motion from the ground up, OR have an ongoing project that’s already been started that they would like feedback. If a mentee is interested in learning stop motion for the first time, they should not plan on centering our mentorship around a project and rather just learning skills. Mentees looking to learn stop motion should expect some kind of financial commitment depending on the complexity of the project.

Mentorship “time limits”

2-3 months with milestones

Type of mentorship

Advisor for ongoing projects. Mentee must be self-motivated and willing to do work outside of our meeting times. Plan on meeting once every two weeks with the option for mentees to message me for small amounts of feedback when needed. Mentorship will be virtual unless in-person guidance is absolutely needed.

Additional Notes

Can help with projects you’re working on and give feedback, meet once every two weeks on either Discord or Telegram.

Jaclyn_Harris

Jaclyn Harris

3D Generalist / Texture Artist

ABOUT JACLYN

Jaclyn is a 3D generalist with experience with Maya, Unity, C# and Adobe products. She specializes in Texturing and Rigging, but also has skills in both 2D and 3D Animation. Jaclyn’s is very good at working with more interactive projects such as video games or websites, but also up for critiquing more commercial work.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR TOOLS

Prefered basic understanding of Maya, and 2D programs (can change depending on project and tools available)

EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS

Reel and or Portfolio work. Able to use Discord.

MENTORSHIP “TIME LIMITS”

3 Months

TYPE OF MENTORSHIP

Bi-weekly Discord/ Google Meet check-ins to check in on overall projects. Available on Discord in case large technical issues arise.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

While Jaclyn is primarily 3D oriented she can also give feedback on 2D animation and design aspects.

James Morris

Lead Instructor

Minneapolis Media Institute
About James

James is a freelance 2D/3D Artist and Instructor. He has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts with a focus in 3D art. He has been in the entertainment industry for 15 years and teaching for almost 8. He has been an animator, artist, modeler, character rigger, for games, commercials and short films. He specializes in 3D character animation and motion capture and loves the chance to bring character and personality to whatever he’s working on.

Minimum requirements for tools

Knowledge of Maya or 3DS Max and Adobe Photoshop. Basic animation or 3D modeling skills.

Experience Requirements

Must have at least 3 portfolio pieces to build off of.

Mentorship “time limits”

Lasts forever, or until you stop making an effort to contact me.

Type of Mentorship

Weekly Zoom/Skype meetings with email correspondence as much as life/work allows.

Additional Notes

A mentorship with James is geared toward helping you grow your understanding of the skill not the tool. The focus is concept first, software package second.

Jayson Slinger

Jayson Slinger

Creative Director

Ghost Productions
About Jayson

Jayson’s an old caveman animator that’s been trundling around 3D for decades. He enjoys character modeling and animating, but has dabbled in nearly everything. He has experience from games and entertainment, to a very voluminous amount of bio-med projects. Jayson’s job is to help staff where he can. Whether that’s manipulating schedules to get more bodies on a project, or jumping into the file himself.

Minimum requirements for tools

A basic working knowledge of a 3D package (preferably Maya). Basic knowledge of Adobe Suite (Photoshop, AfterFX). Zbrush is a plus.

Experience requirements

Portfolio to help assess capabilities and set goals. Prefer junior level or strong student, but willing to help whomever I can.

Mentorship “time limits”

Initial face to face meeting, with an open, flexible end-dates.

Type of Mentorship

Weekly Zoom/Skype meetings with email correspondence as much as life/work allows.

Additional Notes

I wish for a serious, yet light-hearted interaction with those that I can help. My goals for a mentee would be to help make a better reel and artist, and to ingrain some of the best practices I’ve discovered along the way.

Joe Siemsen

Joe Siemsen

Animator & Motion Graphics Artist

Freelance
About Joe

Joe Siemsen is a freelance motion graphics artist and animator who often combines his love of games and animation in a variety of personal projects including YouTube and Twitch. He contributed to various commercials, shows, and games over the course of his career.

Minimum requirement for tools

Adobe Suite, especially Photoshop, and After Effects. Also, Blender.

Experience requirements

Basic understanding of animation principles. Familiar with After Effects and Photoshop.

Mentorship “time limits”

4 to 6 months

Type of mentorship

Learning specific skills: applying parallax animation to photos or illustration or paintings. Learning to identify images that work well for parallax. Separating parts out into layers. Painting in the holes. Importing into After Effects and creating the “space”. Understanding of virtual cameras in AE. Creating depth, adding motion, and effects.

Additional notes

These skills can be applied in a surprising number of ways to add motion and engagement to still images. Whether it be for a game cinematic, a documentary, or even a social media post. I want this to be a fun way to add a touch of creativity when given a still image to work with. Meetings will be primarily virtual as it will be easier to show off concepts and progress to each other.

Karl_Koehle

Karl Koehle

3D Designer, Animator, Instructor of Game Design

UW-Stout
About Karl

Karl is a digital generalist who began his career some 20 years ago doing 3D Animation, motion graphics, and video editing and in addition spent many evenings coaching nationally competitive young athletes. As a teacher, Karl oversees teams of budding game developers, and enjoys sharing his knowledge and passion for creating digital art. Pronunciation guide: Koehle is said “Kay-Lee.”

Minimum requirements for tools

Basic animation or 3D modeling skills in tools of choice: (Maya, After FX, Photoshop, Illustrator)

Experience Requirements

Collection of work to help assess capabilities and set goals. Prefer junior level or strong student.

Mentorship “time limits”

3 months

Type of Mentorship

After identifying goals, meet virtually once a fortnight, with regular portfolio critiques. This mentorship is focused on advancing technical abilities and empowering young designers to present their best self.

Additional Notes

My goals for a mentee would be to help improve an existing reel or project concept, while developing a critical eye. Self-motivation, curiosity, and playfulness are all helpful skills.

Mike Owens

Show creator, Director, Character Designer, Storyboard Artist, Teacher and Animator

WOMO Studio
About Mike

Mike Owens is co-creator and Executive Producer of Amazon’s Danger & Eggs.  As a show creator, Director, Character Designer, Storyboard Artist, Teacher, and Animator Mike has created character-driven entertainment for screens of all sizes and for audiences of all ages for more than 20 years.

Minimum requirements for tools

Adobe Suite (Specifically: Animate, Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere)

Experience Requirements

Mentee could be self-taught, pursuing a degree, or have a degree (but must show portfolio or reel)

Mentorship “time limits”

1-3 month mentorship with clearly defined milestones.

Type of Mentorship

Guide through the production and management of a short animated film (must have an idea ready to pitch).  Creating  storyboards and animatics (must be for a current project). Character design, and character animation (must have a character designed).  Learning production pipeline planning.

Additional Notes

Mentorship will have scheduled milestones and assignments with regular feedback and critiques.  Meetings can be a mix of in-person and virtual meetings.

natalia_poteryakhin

Natalia Poteryakhin

Story Artist

Make

ABOUT NATALIA

Natalia Poteryakhin is a story artist, cartoonist, screenwriter, and 2d animator. Growing up in a Russian immigrant family, she was raised on Soviet cartoons (and highly recommends you check out Fyoder Khitruk’s Winnie the Pooh on YouTube). She graduated the U of MN with an Art BFA and Film BA (and is always down to talk about how she learned the skills she needed outside the context of art school). She currently helps make original short content at MAKE Visual, an animation studio in downtown Minneapolis.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR TOOLS

Basic knowledge of the Adobe Suite (primarily Photoshop) and a digital drawing tablet.

EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS

A portfolio or gallery of your work (an art blog is fine like Insta or Tumblr), but no strict requirements beyond a desire to work on and complete a personal project under my guidance.

MENTORSHIP “TIME LIMITS”

Depends on the project proposed and your own rate of progress towards completion, but typically 3 months.

TYPE OF MENTORSHIP

Remote video calls over Discord once every two weeks, 30-45 minutes long, on a weeknight we determine to work for the both of us. Can also hopefully meet up in person depending on Covid and availability. Driven by your desire to work on a specific skill, create a portfolio piece, or something we decide on together after talking about your goals and interests. The mentorship’s success will depend on me being able to respond to work you present to me at each check-in, so being motivated to make work between meetings is key (and a desire to receive feedback!)

ADDITIONAL NOTES

I draw/animate primarily in Photoshop, so might not be able to help too much regarding Toonboom Harmony, Animate, or 3d animation processes–but definitely can still critique underlying principles of animation, storytelling, etc.

Nate Dorn

Motion Designer

Periscope
About Nate

Nate has 10+ years experience working as a Maya animator in advertising, game development and medical. His strengths are in 3D modeling, keyframe animation and rigging.

Minimum Requirements for tools

Maya, Photoshop, After Effects

Experience Requirement

N/A.

Mentorship “time limits”

Mentorship is subject to pause or end depending on how much free time Nate gets.  Otherwise the mentorship has no time limit.

Type of Mentorship

Nate generally does weekly Skype meetings where he oversees personal projects providing feedback, animation insight and sometimes technical tips.

Additional Notes

Mentees should be willing and ready to be recorded and posted online to track their progress. Also, Nate might be willing to take a few “email-only” mentees.

A picture of a man wearing a collard shirt, smiling, with trees behind him.

Patrick Schwalbe

3D Technical Artist

Target

Looking for mentee

About Patrick

Patrick’s main focus is technical direction, automation, and motion. He’s also pretty good at writing plugins and scripts to improve the lives of his coworkers. In his spare time, he creates short art films, one of which was featured in a TEDx talk in 2018.

Minimum Requirement for tools

Must have a computer capable of running Houdini for basic simulations. I tailor my discussions to the free version of Houdini (Apprentice)

Experience Requirements

Prefer junior level professional, or very strong student.

Mentorship “time limits”

Offers open-ended mentorships without inherent end dates.

Type of Mentorship

Meet once a month via Zoom/Skype for about an hour and emails/chats in the meantime.

Additional Notes

Knowledge includes Mel/MAXScript/Python scripting, C++ programming, character rigging, and animation.

prashan_subasinghe

Prashan Subasinghe

3D ARTIST | RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT ENGINEER

FREELANCE
ABOUT PRASHAN

Prashan is a Freelance 3D generalist specializing in character modeling. With 5 years of experience, He’s worked on commercials, games, mixed reality, and TV. He’s focused on breathing life into characters in 3D and creating stories.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR TOOLS

Basic working knowledge of Zbrush. Working knowledge of a 3D package. Blender is preferred but Maya or Max is ok. Discord for communication.

EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS

Portfolio and/or reel showing interest in modeling and 3D

MENTORSHIP TIME LIMITS

3 months. Open to extensions and flexible on end-dates.

TYPE OF MENTORSHIP

Bi-Weekly Discord video check-ins with occasional messaging. In person, if COVID and schedule allows. This mentorship will focused towards learning the necessary skills to feel comfortable as possible to model in 3D. A good approach is to have a project or an idea in mind to be executed.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

I am excited about pushing 3D forms and design past the initial ideas. and about creating brand new concepts. To bring characters or environments to life. If you share that excitement, this might be for you.