Want to know what it takes to win the ADAA? You might start by asking recent School of Visual Arts grad Luke Guyer; he took back-to-back top honors in the Commercial – Animation/Motion Graphics category in both 2016 and 2017. We checked in with him about his transition to the working world and his new role at DE-YAN in New York City.

Luke Guyer, back-to-back ADAA Commercial – Animation/Motion Graphics winner, 2016 and 2017.

NAME: Luke Guyer

VITALS: BFA, Design, School of Visual Arts (2017)
Winner, Commercial – Animation/Motion Graphics, Adobe Design Achievement Awards, 2017
Winner, Commercial – Animation/Motion Graphics, Adobe Design Achievement Awards, 2016
…and lots of other honors (already!)

ADOBE: What are you working on these days?

LUKE: Right now I’m the Senior Motion Designer at DE-YAN in New York. DE-YAN is a multidisciplinary design studio that focuses on creative concepting, art direction, graphic/motion design, and event design for the worlds of luxury, fashion, and beauty.

A: What do you love about what you do?

LG: The clients we work with, the jobs we take on, and the responsibility I have in the studio are exactly what I’ve been searching for since I graduated from the School of Visual Arts back in May 2017. We work in the fashion world, and I get to create a vibe around my work that I would usually have to save for personal explorations. In my past professional experience, I’ve often hit this wall where the jobs I was working on didn’t satisfy my personal creative needs. This was especially true at large studios where I often felt like a small cog in a huge machine; I would go home craving work that felt truly inspiring on a personal level.

But at DE-YAN I have such a big role in projects that I’m completely creatively satisfied at the end of the day. My taste and interests align exactly with the work the studio produces. And because we’re a relatively small shop, we’re able to be extremely selective with the work we take on; we can choose projects because the creative lines up with the studio’s aesthetic.

Still from one of Luke’s recent projects at DE-YAN.

A: What have you found particularly challenging as you’ve transitioned to the working world from school?

LG: Since graduation I’ve really come to terms with what makes me creatively fulfilled in my work life and what kind of position I need to be in to achieve that. I need to feel a connection to the work I’m producing to be satisfied with myself at the end of the day.

It was extremely challenging to find a studio where my interests aligned and I could have the creative control I craved. I always knew that whatever situation I found myself in was the culmination of actions I myself had taken, and that situation would persist unless I made a change. When I felt unhappy with my circumstances I made sure to change them until I figured out exactly where I needed to be. I didn’t want to settle for anything in my professional life because I knew that would only come with frustration down the road.

The most challenging part has been figuring out how to produce the work I want to create within the confines of the professional world. It took a bit of time but right now I could not be happier with my position at DE-YAN and the work we’re making.

A: Tell us about your winning entry in last year’s ADAA: the 2017 SVA Motion Graphics Portfolio Screening Opener.

Still from Luke’s 2017 ADAA winning entry, ‘2017 SVA Motion Graphics Portfolio Screening Opener’.

LG: This project is very special to me because it was the final piece I produced during my time in school. It felt like the culmination of everything I learned those four years, focused into one project.

The goal of the opener was to illustrate a journey, both literally and figuratively. Elements that resonate with SVA’s international population are present throughout the opener. I hoped that, in the end, the audience would feel connected as everyone comes together to celebrate all the hard work of the previous year.

A: What was your winner experience at Adobe MAX like?

LG: I made great friends with some of my fellow ADAA winners. I think this competition is such a great way to bring young, talented, passionate artists together to simply communicate and connect with each other. Making lasting and honest connections like the ones I made is really something special. Also, Adobe MAX is super fun for people like me who are excited to check out all the new tech that hasn’t been released yet!

Luke Guyer and his fellow 2017 winners at the MAX Bash in Las Vegas.

A: Do you ever get totally freaked out about the future?

LG: The thought of getting stuck and not growing as a creative definitely scares me. I think it’s easy to start feeling too comfortable with your current situation and stop striving for something greater, especially when life gets complicated and you have other things to worry about besides your creative growth. We all get in those creative lulls sometimes, but coming out stronger on the other side is where you really grow. Being mindful and honest with myself about all these feelings makes me feel good about my future.

A: What’s the best piece of advice you can give a student, who wants to pursue motion graphics, or win the ADAA and launch their career?

LG: If I were talking to my younger self I would say three things…

First, and most important in my opinion, is to be humble but also confident about yourself and your work. There’s something really impactful about silent confidence, and having that internal confidence while still being open to feedback and input is a great way to grow as a creative.

Second is to not be afraid to experiment and push your work. School is the perfect time to figure out what drives you to create. Find what motivates you to produce your best work and dive in. I find it easier to be experimental at first, get all my crazy ideas out there (even if they sound terrible), and then chisel, polish and refine them to create something that works.

The last thing is collaborate! Reach out to other students, music producers, creatives of different mediums or even people you look up to and just share your work. See if they’re open to a potential collaboration. It’s such a great way to learn more about yourself. I think it’s also important to do this in school because sometimes you can get caught up just doing your own thing and it’s nice to gain a fresh perspective.

But it is also great to do your own thing sometimes! A healthy balance between the two is where I try to stay.

A: How will you know when you’ve “made it”?

LG: This feeling of “making it” is something that grows inside you very slowly. Early on in your career you can doubt that you’ll ever “make it”. You’ll see other people you look up to and think “how can I ever reach that level of success”? After some time committing to your passion and putting in an honest effort to better yourself and your work, that feeling of “making it” slowly starts to come to fruition. I think being honest and confident about yourself and the work you’re putting out in the world puts you on the right path to “making it”.


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