When you first meet Mathijs Luijten, you’ll immediately observe the gleaming passion he has for sharing his animation experience. He’s eager to cultivate a community for animators and motion designers in Vietnam with his six week Motion Design Bootcamp. This upcoming bootcamp is a collaboration with Vietcetera and begins July 24th. Mathijs has worked for animation studios like Achtung, Woodwork, and Buck and has told stories for Apple, Google, Facebook, TEDx, etc.
Vietcetera sits down to talk with Mathijs about his ten years working in animation and why he feels that Vietnam is the best place for him to host his first Motion Design Bootcamp.
For ten years, you’ve been animating for top design studios around the world. What did it take to get where you are today?
I’ve always loved to entertain crowds with storytelling. As a child I acted in plays, wrote and performed music, created silly videos for YouTube, but it was really during my studies at a Dutch advertising school where I grew my fascination for animation.
I didn’t go to university and decided to work instead. When I was 17, I moved to “the big city” — Amsterdam. For six years, I worked my way through two advertising agencies and two animation studios, experimenting, taking risks and, most importantly, growing.
I had always dreamed of working at Buck and Giant Ant someday and finally “had the guts” to reach out. At first, no luck [….] But I ended up meeting amazing animators from those studios, such as Sander van Dijk and Jorge Canest. When I discovered they were organizing a motion design festival (Blend) in 2015 I knew I had to be there. I met many individuals whose online work had inspired me. For the first time, I felt part of a global community of animators.
Eventually I did end up working at Buck, joining their new studio in Sydney. The three years at Buck were enjoyable and taught me valuable skills and lessons. But all things must come to an end. After ten years of full-time work, I decided to go freelance.
What great lessons came out of working at Buck?
Working together with other talented creatives took projects to the next level. I really have to applaud Gareth O’ Brien for assembling the right team. My colleagues at Buck were both very talented and lovely people to be around. Ego never interfered with the production of quality work.
One of my favorite projects there was a video we created for TEDx.
To you, what separates a good story from a great story?
Concept is key. A concept can often be explained in one sentence. Have fun with the way you tell the story.
Get the viewer on the edge of their seat.
How is freelancing different from full-time work?
I’ve worked full-time most of my career. It’s motivating to come into a space with talented creatives, share different perspectives, receive feedback on work, and have a bit of a laugh. The downside of always working for clients is that you can stumble into a bit of an identity crisis. What is my style? What do I like?
The freelance life affords me more time. Time for passion projects. And sleep. I also get to choose who I work with and am very grateful for the studios that have hired me. The downside is that you have to be your own producer, which takes time away from creation. Producing is some people’s full-time job, you know!
What advice do you have for anyone with freelancing dreams?
It’s very important to find a network of people with which you genuinely like to collaborate. Think of your ‘why’. Your ‘why’ will get you through the parts of freelancing that are less enjoyable. My main reason to freelance is to find my own voice again.
About your six-week Motion Design Bootcamp starting July 24. Can you tell our readers – why this workshop? And tell us a bit of what students can expect.
My goal is to inspire and empower the local motion design community. There is a lot of talent, but there are only a few places to meet and share the knowledge and passion. I hope to create a space like this in Saigon.
In this workshop I will teach the ins and outs of making a full length animation piece from scratch.
What’s next for Mathijs Luijten?
I’m working on something for one of my favorite musicians. Stay tuned.