In the world of motion graphic design, Ash Thorp is a household name. Designers around the world look to his vast body of work for inspiration and a peek into where design is heading.
For anyone who doesn’t know Ash by name, they’ve certainly come across his work. From his film title designs for blockbusters like X-Men First Class and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, to his UI design elements for films and games like James Bond – Spectre and Call of Duty – Advanced Warfare, Thorp has played a major role in the art direction and creation of many of the creative visuals that we’ve come to know and love in entertainment.
But even with his busy schedule as an artist and art director, Ash Thorp also finds ways to give back to the community and advance the industry through projects like The Collective Podcast which he hosts, and Learn Squared, an online learning platform that he co-founded and instructs for.
We were very fortunate that Thorp took time out of his demanding schedule to answer some questions for us about his background, his design principles, and some of the many projects he has a hand in.
A Conversation with Ash Thorp
Could you give us a little background on how you were drawn to motion graphics and how you got started in the industry?
I grew up with a love for Saturday morning cartoons and comic book culture. So with that admiration, it seemed that motion graphics were a natural progression for me as I was entering my career as an artist. I love art in all forms and especially expressing my ideas and style through design that moves is incredibly challenging yet rewarding.
How did your time at Prologue help to define you as an artist in the industry?
I was introduced to many talented professionals in the industry and learned so much through my interactions with each of them. I learned how hard you must truly work to produce amazing work. It takes tremendous focus and effort.
You are a pioneer in many ways in the field of motion graphics. Where do you think the industry will be moving over the next few years in terms of technology and trends?
The future as I see it really comes down to us… The creators… The people behind the curtain that influence change.
I believe that many more of us designers will be working in remote locations versus studio offices as technology has finally advanced enough that in-person interaction isn’t as crucial as it used to be. This remote capability allows for more work/life balance, and flexibility in scheduling time to be spent with our families and loved ones.
The industry is always changing and moving due to how competitive our market is, and the constant push in motivation that there may be someone selling a better product or service if you don’t keep up.
I believe there is a massive market that will be opening up in VR and AR, and this world needs to be thought about carefully and well designed. I personally believe that if you are new to the industry, you should focus on where VR and AR are heading and be ahead of the curve. It’s the next form of consumable entertainment in my eyes.
The Collective podcast serves as a great education and inspiration resource for artists. What’s the most rewarding aspect of the podcast for you? And how do you find time for it with everything else you have going on?
The Podcast is an amazing outlet for all of my personal thoughts, feelings, and ideas about the things that I love and fear. I find it incredibly rewarding to be able to reach out to other creatives that I admire and start up an honest dialogue about universal experiences and challenges we all share, like the concept of balance in a creative life or dealing with rejection.
Also, I am so appreciative to receive positive praise and encouragement from various listeners who take time to share their feedback, which keeps me fueled to keep the podcast going. I have saved so many notes and emails from creatives from all around the world who mention the Podcast as having a great impact on their lives and giving them the push to chase their dreams or focus on the things that they love most. That to me is so incredibly inspiring and I honestly had no idea it would impact so many people. Thank you, everyone, for your love for the podcast.
In regards to making time for it, the podcast has been going on almost two and a half years now, and I just made it a priority to cut out time for it weekly. I looked forward to the rotating weekly interactions and personal dialogues, especially since I’m so often focused in my own head during the workweek, that it’s great to take time out to share ideas and thoughts with other creatives.
I’ve currently had to take a break from the podcast in order to focus on Lost Boy and Learn Squared, but I hope to get back to it in the coming months when time opens up, as it’s an important part of my life.
Speaking of your busy schedule, what can you tell us about Learn Squared, your involvement, and what the plans are for this new venture?
I am a co-founder, creative director, and instructor at Learn Squared. It came about from a desire to learn and grow from an amazing group of talented friends and artists.
The mission for Learn Squared is simple, we want to create a quality education program that is affordable and available worldwide, and we make every decision with this core goal in mind. One of the core differences from other online schools is that our school instructors are current influential working creatives in the industry that teach one another our respective trades.
So our instructors are not just instructors, but they take on the many roles of an instructor, an apprentice, a student, and a mentor all at the same time. The conceptual idea is that we all learned our craft from some starting point, and we want to share that success in creative skills can be obtained through hard work, focus, and proper direction.
We believe that we are in a new era of education, and we want to provide others with the resources that we never had when starting in the industry. We hope this type of educational platform will help build and develop our creative community, encouraging and empowering others to chase their dreams and build their creative potential.
In a highly competitive work field, what strategies do you use to maintain your creative vision and integrity as an artist while managing your clients’ expectations and opinions on the work?
I always say… “Don’t be the client’s hands, be their brains.”
You need to earn their trust instantly and you only get one first impression to do it. So make your work count and create a lasting relationship that is symbiotic, healthy, and beneficial to both sides. I know this isn’t as easy as it may read, as I’ve had to figure out a lot of it through trial and error over the years, but stay determined and work hard.
Artists and creators like Ash Thorp help define and shape the work we all do in the motion graphics industry. He’s well worth keeping up with for inspiration and a little motivation to create great things.