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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

Alicia Allen (Reece)

Motion Designer + Director
Motion504
Portfolio | You Are Swim
About Alicia

Alicia is a creative with an entrepreneurial spirit, driven by her love for education, mentorship and community. In 2017, she co-founded Foreign Fauna, a small and selective independent animation studio rooted in design.

Minimum requirements for tools

A basic working knowledge of Adobe Suite is highly recommended though not required. (Must have access to a computer and internet.)

Experience Requirements

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

Mentorship “time limits”

Alicia offers 3-6 month mentorship tracks.

Type of Mentorship

This mentorship is the equivalent of your first cup of coffee of the day. It will help you to see that you can do just about anything (and you can) but that what you really need is a goal, a strategy, and a bit of legwork.

Additional Notes

A mentorship with Alicia is split into three sections, each intended to help you focus your career. This includes (but is not limited to): how and where to start, building your own brand strategy and playing a long game.

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

Art Director, Motion Designer and Illustrator
Freelance
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.

Blain Traughber

Video Editor & Motion Designer
Freelance
Portfolio
About Blain

Blain is a freelance video editor who has worked as a Post Production Supervisor for an animation studio that focused on short form comedic animation for children. He has also worked on music videos, Internal corporate videos, and short films. I love giving feedback and feeding off of others’ creativity to create the coolest thing possible.

Minimum requirement for tools

Basic knowledge of an Editing software (Adobe Premiere preferred). Or a current body of work that we can make a reel out of or another editing project to pitch (narrative or otherwise)

Experience requirement

Portfolio and/or demo reel (can be in-progress) and have (or create) a Discord account.

Mentorship “time limits”

3-12 months with milestones. Can vary depending on what the overall goal is, but it must be a solid one.

Type of Mentorship

At least once monthly check-ins through voice or text over discord. Meetups as necessary if local.

Additional Notes

I’m looking to help make your awesome art better by offering a highly critical differing perspective. I’m also looking to help animators or any other creative who want to better their editing and timing abilities. I also love discussing theories of design and how art affects different people and using this as a way to improve.

Brent Larson

Senior Graphic Designer
Medtronic
Portfolio
About Brent

Brent Larson is an Animator, 3D Artist, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Visual Artist. He has provided creative services in many different industries such as architecture, manufacturing, product design, print production, feature film, video games, and litigation graphics. His current role is Senior Graphic Designer for Medtronic, providing design and animation services to support CEO/Executive Leadership initiatives. Brent is also a member of the AIGA Minnesota In-House Designers Council.

Emory Allen

Illustration / Frame-by-frame Animation
Motion504
Portfolio | @ocularinvasion
About Emory

Minnesota transplant Emory Allen creates whimsical characters and humorous animations. Inspired equally by Jim Henson, Herb Lubalin, and Wolverine, his work is the product of an adult that never learned how to stop being a kid.

Minimum requirements for tools

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

Experience Requirements

Must show portfolio and/or reel

Mentorship “time limits”

3-6 month mentorship with clearly defined milestones.

Type of Mentorship

Emory will work with you to set creative goals for the mentorship with the idea of having something to show by the end. Mentorship will have scheduled milestones and assignments with regular feedback and critiques.

Additional Notes

Meetings can be a mix of in-person and virtual meetings.

Greg Stewart

Motion Designer + Director
Freelance
Portfolio | LinkedIn | Instagram | @jdgstewart
About Greg

I’m a native of Canada, resident of the good ol’ U.S. of A since 1998. I got into motion graphics learning in my spare time as a student at Bethel University, where I graduated in 2013 with a degree in theology. Ever since graduating, I’ve been working in the film and motion industry, most recently serving as the in-house motion designer + video producer at Open Book Communications here in Minneapolis. Now, I’m freelancing full-time as a motion designer + director, partnering with agencies or directly with clients to produce various kinds of motion content.

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

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.

Mike Medicine Horse

Sr Technical Artist
Target HQ
Portfolio | @MikeIsRendering
About Mike

Mike is a CGI artist who has worked for 20 years in the industry. His focus is new rendering tech for real time visualization, VR and AR. Currently he works at Target HQ doing R&D for Marketing and the greater enterprise. Mike is looking for mentees who would like to improve their sculpting, illustration or XR work.

Minimum requirements for tools

Maya, Max, C4D, Zbrush, Unreal, Unity, Substance Painter and creative cloud experience with owned licenses.
Experience Requirements: Senior in college and above, must have working knowledge of software and 3D concepts.

Mentorship “time limits”

Mike offers 3-6 month mentorship tracks. Mentees must be open to meeting downtown or via skype/web.

Type of Mentorship

This mentorship is focused around receiving technical guidance for mentee projects, advice on client relations and guidance on career path.

Additional Notes

A mentorship with Mike will have parameters based on the mentee’s goals. Mike will setup cadence based on an initial meeting.

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

Mentorship Director / CG Artist
Meditech Communications
Houdini Reel | Maya Reel | Vimeo
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 TED talk in 2018. He is also the current mentorship director 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 emailing throughout the week.

Additional Notes

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