Open Nav

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

Allison Howle

Illustrator / Animator
Freelance
Portfolio | Twitter
About Allison

Allison has worked in medical and advertising as a creative director, 3D animation generalist, storyboard artist, motion graphics artist and commercial illustrator both in-house and remotely. Since becoming a freelance artist, she’s gained a deep understanding of social media marketing, streaming on Twitch, fostering a community and selling at conventions.

Minimum requirement for tools

Basic knowledge of the Adobe Suite (Primarily Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Premiere and InDesign) Basic knowledge of Autodesk Maya and Zbrush (or comparable 3D program,) if interested in 3D specialization.

Experience requirements

Portfolio and/or demo reel. Mentee can be self-taught, pursuing a degree, have a degree, or be a junior level artist. Have (or create) a dedicated social media account, and have (or create) a Discord account.

Mentorship “time limits”

3 months with milestones.

Type of mentorship

Bi-weekly voice/video check-ins over Discord with frequent critique offered. Once-to-twice a month meetups in person, as needed by the mentee, to discuss progress, concerns, questions, etc.

Additional Notes

This mentorship experience will have scheduled milestones, requirements and deadlines that the mentee will be expected to meet.

Amber Navarette

Editor / Motion Designer
Volt Studios
Portfolio | LinkedIn
About Amber

Amber has worked as a video editor and motion designer in the advertising world for over 16 years. She started in-house video departments at COLLE+McVOY and space150. She has been at Volt Studios since 2011.

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.

Amy Schmitt

Freelancer in Design, Illustration, and Animation
Freelance
Portfolio
About Amy

Amy has worked in the motion graphics industry for 18 years in various roles including: Creative Direction, Art Direction, Storyboarding, Design, Animation, and Illustration. Her passion and drive in the field is what keeps her motivated and pushes her to keep learning.

Minimum requirements for tools

A basic working knowledge of Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects)

Experience Requirements

Must have some samples of your work or a demo reel to show. Mentee can be self-taught, pursuing degree, or junior level artist working in the industry.

Mentorship “time limits”

Amy’s open to discussing what works best for the length of the internship.

Type of Mentorship

Amy will work with mentee to set up goals, milestones and expectations for mentorship. Initial meeting will be in-person with continued contact either voice or Google Hangouts.

Additional Notes

Amy’s goal is to help the mentee get a better understanding of how to pursue a career in design and animation. She’ll give suggestions on how to brand yourself, build a strong portfolio, where to look for possible jobs and how to decide if a freelance career is a good fit. Amy has worked freelance as well as on staff and is happy to share her experiences with both.

Anna Faught

Freelance Art Director
Bright Bird
Portfolio | @annafaughtart | Tumblr
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
Portfolio
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.

James Morris

Lead Instructor
Minneapolis Media Institute
Portfolio
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
Portfolio
About Jayson

Jayson’s an old caveman animator that’s been trundling around 3D for 23 years. 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.

Kyle Franke

Motion Designer / Director of Photography
Freelance
Portfolio | @isotope_theory | Vimeo | LinkedIn
About Kyle

Kyle Franke is a maker of all moving images. After working internally at Target Corporation, Kyle branched out into the advertising world offering his talents as a creative director, and content creator for all types of moving imagery.

Minimum Requirement for tools

After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, basic understanding of 3D asset creation, basic knowledge of camera systems.

Experience Requirements

Self-taught or degree in VFX/Animation, or adjacent field.

Mentorship “time limits”

No limit to communication, or time.

Type of Mentorship

1-on-1 Q/A sessions, and small group discussions.

Additional Notes

Kyle has been post-production freelancing 12 years in Minneapolis offering his services to all. Most recently he has been the director of photography on a feature-length documentary, animated stop-motion advertisements, music videos, as well as animated content for commercials.

Madeline Haynes

Madeline Haynes

Motion Designer
Standard
Portfolio | Twitter | Instagram
About Madeline

Madeline is an Illustrator and Motion Designer from the Twin Cities, and has been illustrating in a professional setting all her life. She believes there is always more to learn, and the puzzle and adventure that comes with every new art venture is a reward in itself. Color obsessed.

Minimum requirements for tools

Basic knowledge of the Adobe Suite, primarily After Effects, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop, but I can answer questions about most of the other programs if you’re interested in those as well. If interested in illustration, a drawing tablet or an iPad with Procreate or Sketch.

Experience requirements

Portfolio or gallery of work so I can get a feel for your work, and a webcam or microphone (can be headphones). Discord account.

Mentorship “time limits”

3 months

Type of mentorship

Bi-weekly check-ins, Discord to ask questions, possible in-person meetups depending on vaccination status.

Additional notes

I hope that the person I mentor is excited about learning and open to the future. I hope to help them build their confidence in their preferred areas and help them get better at a program or technique.

Matt Burniston
Looking for a mentee

Matt Burniston

Digital & Social Creative Lead
Buddha Jones
Portfolio | Instagram
About Matt

Matt Burniston is a 3D & Motion artist with almost 20 years of experience in the creative industry. Starting out in web design, using photoshop, illustrator & flash to create interactive websites. Meanwhile teaching himself motion and 3D. It soon became clear that that was his passion, and moved to New York to pursue that industry, working full time for around 3 years, and the following 7 years as a freelance working on 3D product visualization, motion graphics videos, graphic design and video production. He now lives and works in LA working in the entertainment industry, at Buddha Jones, creating social content for clients like Paul McCartney and DC movies. In down time and after hours he has also produced 3 short 3D animated film which have over 10 million views online.

Minimum Requirement for Tools

Portfolio and Demo Reel required. Mentee can be self taught or more traditional training. It would be great if the mentee had a project they were currently working on, or a project they wanted to get started on, which I could help guide them through, provide feed back, and give advice.

Mentorship “Time Limits”

I’m open to discussing a time limit based on what he mentee needs to get tot he finish line.

Type of mentorship

Online video calls, to talk through milestones at regular intervals, and help with sticking points if/when needed.

Additional notes

I know how hard it can be to work through a project alone, lean new techniques and software and create something that you are proud of. I want to create a safe space to bounce around ideas, talk through concepts, learn tips and tricks, and get the mentee from idea to finished product, whether that be a simple motion graphics piece or 3d animation.

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 and reel)

Mentorship “time limits”

3-6 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.

Mike Zugschwert

VFX Artist
Freelance
Portfolio | LinkedIn | Vimeo
About Mike

Mike has 13 years of experience working in 3D with 8 years specializing in dyamic effects and simulations. He also has experience working with all aspects of visual effects including camera operation, matchmoving, compositing, tool development, and project management.

Minimum Requirements for tools

Must be very comfortable with most aspects of at least one 3d Software (Maya, 3dsMax, Houdini), and at least entry level knowledge of compositing.

Experience Requirement

Prefer junior level professional, or very strong student.

Mentorship “time limits”

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

Type of Mentorship

I prefer meeting in person. Open to all levels of involvement from “once a month” to “working next to each other 40 hours a week.”

Additional Notes

If you want to get into dynamic simulations, realize that it is a very time consuming exercise and if you want to do things outside of presets it involves a lot of math. Brush up on linear algebra. I am currently learning Houdini and not yet proficient, so we could learn together!

Nate Dorn

Motion Designer
Periscope
Reel
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.

Nathan Clark

Animator / 3D Modeler
Freelance
Website | Demo Reel | LinkedIn
About Nathan

I am a 3D artist from Minneapolis. Over the past 10 years I have taught a wide range of design and fine arts courses at UW-Stout, MCAD, Art Institutes International Minnesota, and the Academy for Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Now I work freelance and specialize in 3D character animation, 3D modeling and architectural visualization in Maya. I received my MFA in painting and drawing from PennDesign.

Patrick Schwalbe

3D Technical Artist
Target
Houdini Reel | Maya Reel | ArtStation
About Patrick

Patrick’s main focus is dynamic simulations, character animations, and motion effects. 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. He is also the current Mentorship Committee Chair for Nice Moves.

Minimum Requirement for tools

Must have either Maya or Houdini basic knowledge.

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 week via Skype for about an hour and email throughout the week.

Additional Notes

Knowledge includes Mel scripting, C++ programming, character rigging, and python scripting.

Sarah Hellier Headshot

Sarah Hellier

Motion Graphic Designer
ShopHQ
Portfolio | Instagram
About Sarah

Sarah specializes in 2D motion graphics and video production. Her experience lies in the sports marketing and live entertainment industry. Sarah originally majored in journalism but made a large career jump into design at age 26. In her current role, Sarah designs TV commercials at ShopHQ. Sarah also has experience as a freelance artist with NBC, The Travel Channel, HGTV and Nickelodeon.

Minimum requirements for tools

Basic knowledge of Adobe After Effects, Premiere, Photoshop and Illustrator.

Experience requirements

Must have samples of work or a demo reel to present. Mentee can be self taught, pursuing a degree, recently graduated or making a career change.

Mentorship/advising “time limits”

0 – 3 months

Type of mentorship

Identifying goals, biweekly zoom meetings, and regular portfolio critiques. This mentorship is focused on advancing technical abilities and empowering young designers to present their best self.

Additional notes

I benefited greatly from this mentorship program and I’d like to give that back. My expectations are simple: full effort and prompt communication.