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The Beatles

The Value of a Motion Graphics Artist

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Hello people,

 

I've been working in the graphic arts field for 20 years and mainly work with print and web. However, I dont really find the web design that rewarding and have recently started learning after effects focusing on motion design.

 

Currently, for print and web work, whether if its production or design, freelancers can charge $75 an hour. For an eight hour day thats $600. Now keep in mind this is just using, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and possibly some Flash layout (no programing). With this in mind, I would think motion graphics designers would make a lot more. Their discipline requires advanced knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and possibly a 3D program. That however, doesnt seem to be the case.

 

I've looked around, and even on this site under the Jobs section, the companies that are looking for motion graphics freelancers are asking for someone who does it all, 3D, After Effects, Animator, Designer, trouble shoot computer issues, broadcast and film knowledge, broadcast and film experience, and program their spouses to clean up after them and make a hundred dollar bill that always produces another just by sitting there.

 

What im saying is, it appears that people needing motion graphics dont really value the experience it requires. From what i've seen, motion designers dont make any more than a print or web designer. One job posting here listed the compensation as $250 to $400 a day. But print and web designers can make more than that with less expertise and less knowledge of complex applications.

 

Any light to shine on this bizarre devaluing of a complex and highly skilled profession? Could it be that people posting on message boards looking for designers are just inexperienced customers that dont know any better?

 

Thanks in advance

 

The Beatles

Edited by The Beatles

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Demand and Supply.

There is a large and growing supply of people who want to make a living from Motion Graphics. It's fun and I suspect that's the problem. If I went back to my last profession (Computer Programming) I could easily double my income, but I don't want to spend my working day doing something that I don't enjoy.

 

There is still a comfortable living to be made. I see the demand for Motion Graphics increasing with time. Technology is plastering screens all over the modern world. Those screens will need a constant supply of fresh content.

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Demand and Supply.

There is a large and growing supply of people who want to make a living from Motion Graphics. It's fun and I suspect that's the problem. If I went back to my last profession (Computer Programming) I could easily double my income, but I don't want to spend my working day doing something that I don't enjoy.

 

There is still a comfortable living to be made. I see the demand for Motion Graphics increasing with time. Technology is plastering screens all over the modern world. Those screens will need a constant supply of fresh content.

 

Thats what my thinking was when I considered motion graphics. With all the screens plus the inevitable increase in bandwidth of the web, there will be greater demand.

 

Well thanks for your post, i didnt know that there wasnt really a demand for motion graphics at this point. seems crazy that such a specialized profession within the same industry (graphic arts) would pay less than a profession that doesnt require the same expertise as say print.

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Thats what my thinking was when I considered motion graphics. With all the screens plus the inevitable increase in bandwidth of the web, there will be greater demand.

 

Well thanks for your post, i didnt know that there wasnt really a demand for motion graphics at this point. seems crazy that such a specialized profession within the same industry (graphic arts) would pay less than a profession that doesnt require the same expertise as say print.

 

I wouldn't say there isn't a demand. It's just that the supply is greater.

 

Over-delivery is almost the standard now.

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I wouldn't say there isn't a demand. It's just that the supply is greater.

 

Over-delivery is almost the standard now.

 

Seems to be the case for Entertainment design as well. I was talking to my friend that does 3D for films and he said dont even bother going into 3D due to the extreme competition.

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seems crazy that such a specialized profession within the same industry (graphic arts) would pay less than a profession that doesnt require the same expertise as say print.

 

I have wondered about this sometimes too. You can also see it within the postproduction world where it seems like day rates for editors seem to be generally higher than for mograph artists.

 

I don't know if it's as simple as supply and demand, there certainly are a heck of a lot of graphic designers out there (way, way, way more than people who can do mograph) so should balance out no?

 

Sometimes I wonder if it is because what we do requires so much technichal know how we are still often perceived as technicians and so less valued, or maybe just because it's a younger discipline. Sometimes I also suspect it just has to do with budgets, the TVCs come further down the line after more of the budget has been spent than the original branding which comes earlier on, plus there are more middlemen producers, prodcos etc that all need a percentage. These are just stabs in the dark though haven't been at it long enough to really have any idea why the industry is the way it is.

 

Curious to see if some of the more experienced peeps here have any ideas.

 

At the end of the day though generalizations only go so far, it becomes kind of silly to worry about what the average mograph artist makes versus the average graphic designer, only thing that really matters is can you get the rate you want to work for.

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anothername,

 

those are great points. I just thought there would be a logical explanation. I think its demand. i mean, how many motion graphics jobs are out there compared to print design or web design. maybe the future will open up more positions when we have screens on every wall, billboard and jacket on the street. and lets not forget about the moon, theres another canvas. i think the real increase in demand will be when mobile devices and the internet get an increase in bandwidth as i said earlier.

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I don't think the logic that just because someone has greater technical demands in there job it automatically means they are going to be making “a lot more.” If you're charging $75/hour for just pushing buttons in PS, Illustrator, etc, then I want to do what you do because just pushing buttons is easy. I gather you probably can demand that rate because of your knowledge in design gained from 20 years of experience. There are people that make a lot of money from being incredibly technical proficient, but they are specialists and excel in their craft and usually will have lots of experience and a solid foundation in design, film, etc.

 

The demand is not lacking, in my opinion, just different horses for different courses. There are plenty of people starting out in print and web that work at lower rates, probably a good bit less than the $250-400 range you quoted. The same goes for motion graphics, the needs span across the entire spectrum and like stated above, generalizations only go so far.

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a2visual,

 

that would of been my default logic, however, I started this thread because all I seem to see are companies asking for highly skilled and creative motion designers that can also change their cars oil, program their TiVo, and invent a time machine for them. All at a day rate of etc...

 

Have a good night everyone.

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I find that people who post on boards are looking for cheap labour. If companies know you work faster and better, they are happy to pay you more, because they get more bang for their buck. There is no set rate. You're probably quite good at what you do. Most starting graphic designers i know work for pretty much minimum wage, but it beats the hell out of working in an office. ( mind you minimum wage here in australia is like 20/hr)

 

And yeah, its a hell of a lot more fun. Most people who do mograph do it for the love of motion. which kinda screws up the economics of it, but hey, that's life =) do what you can with it.

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vozzz,

 

now that sounds about right and what i really was expecting to hear. hopefully thats the case. thats why i decided to ask instead of assume. but still, we are still up to our knees in assumption.

 

20 dollar minimum wage? good for australia!

Edited by The Beatles

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I don't know what tasks / skills you are referring to, but it sounds like your directly relating knowledge of different software packages to value. It also sounds like you are accustomed to working directly for the end-client, which will always make more money. I don't think it can fairly be compared to day rates at local shops and studios.

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AromaKat,

 

yes i am comparing software packages to help indicate the level of expertise and knowledge thats required to master the tools. your the second "kat" thats posted today, funny avatar picture.

 

P.S. I was just looking for some insight. in hindsight i think i should of left rate comparisons out of my initial post but i thought it would be good reference. I see much more value in motion graphics than print or web. but value is relative. I originally posted right after i was in the "jobs" forums and it just made me uncomfortable seeing some of those rates. have a nice night.

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Like a2visual said, the complexity of the craft don't automatically mean higher pay. Getting paid is always about value. Specifically, the value you bring compared to the rest of the talent pool. If there a lot of people in that pool there are a few things you need to do to stand out.

 

Be better than most, find great contacts, and live where the work is. You will see you pay go UP!

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+1 for Mr. Campbell's post. I have found that it is a blend of everything that gets you a good rate. If you are a great designer -- awesome. If you can design and animate -- even better. If you can add compositing, pipeline, 3D, roto/paint or tracking in with that then you are money. As with everything in this field, its all about solving problems and getting it done in time and on budget. The more you have to offer the better off you are. And even more important.. If you are easy going and easy to work with you will get work that "better" artists might be passed up for based on their attitude.

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