Posted 15 June 2023
Interview by Frankie Mari
Mention Abraham Egbobawaye

Why motion designer Abraham E. champions sharing your work – even if you think it “looks crap”

“Start by creating and sharing work, then figure out the rest.” This is advice that Abraham Egbobawaye swears by, and has seen him make strides as a motion designer. Initially viewing the practice as a hobby where he would try to “shamelessly imitate” work he saw online, Abraham was thrust into the professional world after a tutor recommended him for a placement at a production company. Since then, it’s been his commitment to creating in his spare time and updating his Behance profile that has got him noticed – landing him his current role as a junior motion designer at Buff Motion. Here, Abraham tells us how and where to get the training you need to be a motion designer, as well as why you should share your work, no matter how “crappy” you think it is.

Abraham Egbobawaye

Abraham Egbobawaye

Job Title

Junior Motion Designer, Buff Motion



Previous Employment

Motion Graphic Design Intern, Outfly (2021)
Graphic Design Intern, Pentagram (2020)
Junior UI Designer, GeeiQ (2019)

Place of Study

BA Graphic & Media Design, London College of Communication (2019–2022)


Behance Portfolio

Social Media


What I do

How would you describe your job, and specifically what you do at Buff Motion?
As part of the motion design team at Buff, my main role is to translate storyboarded designs into animatics, which are sequenced stills to establish timing. Then I’ll translate them into mostly 2D animations for explainer videos, animated brand assets and even motion toolkits [sample animations that represent the essentials of a brand’s motion language].

Given the small size of the team, I might also be involved in the early exploration phases after we get the script from a client. This is where some of the creative team get together and brainstorm how we can translate the script into compelling and understandable visuals ahead of animating it.

Prior to being employed full-time, I’d spend my spare time trying to turn random ideas inspired by artists and studios I admire into half-decent personal projects.

“At Buff Motion, I translate storyboarded designs into 2D animations for explainer videos, animated brand assets and even motion toolkits.”

What are the main influences behind your work?
From the early days of my exposure to design, I’ve been drawn to graphical and bold approaches to visual communication, as I found most things to be complex and confusing (I still do). This was sparked by a UI motion sizzle for Google’s Material Design manifesto.

Since trying to shift into the more expressive and playful side of motion, I’ve saved dozens of projects that inspire me on my Behance page, and been learning about amazing individuals and studios like Vucko, Oddfellows, J-Scott, Buff and NotReal. One creative in particular which has (and still) influences me is Jorge Rolando Canedo Estrada, AKA Jr. Canest.

I first came across his work a few years before even knowing what motion design was. As I slowly dabbled in motion graphics for school projects, I started appreciating and rewatching Jorge’s beautiful 2017 showreel over and over...

That collection of nimble and characterful animation, so rhythmically edited to DeVotchKa’s song, The Clockwise Witness, speaks to my inner child. Jorge leads the wonderful team at Ordinary Folk, a studio that releases breathtaking work that inspires so many of us. A lot of their projects remind me of the importance of doing the simple things well, in the hope of bringing mundane, simple things to life in unexpected, playful and energetic ways.

Would you say you need any specific training to do what you do?
Specific training is hardly a must for motion design. I’ve found proactivity, experimentation and research is what you need. Start following basic tutorials that can help you create similar work to the projects that spark your interest.

This exposes you to what it’s really like to create motion designs, instead of just fantasising about it. If you’re really into it, search for more tutorials to recreate the effects, animations and designs you’re drawn to. Free resources, as great as they are, can sometimes reach a ceiling in terms of structure and quality; that’s where considering paid motion design, illustration or animation courses from the likes of School of Motion, Motion Design School, Skillshare, Domestika and so on can help you level up in a more methodical way, providing you with key practical and theoretical bases. They can be expensive, though.

A university degree is another good way into the motion design industry, as it can expose you to important principles, hands-on projects and a ton of interesting people to collaborate with in person. But it’s mainly about giving yourself the time and space to really experiment, fail and learn about the craft and yourself, whether you want to achieve that through university or self-directed learning.

“Start following basic tutorials that can help you create similar work to the projects that spark your interest.”

Abraham’s project Tickle, which he spent “a handful of weekends” animating. Sound design by Avik Chari.

What recent project are you most proud of?
The Buff team got to translate [event management company] Imex’s new visual identity and key pillars [of collaboration, innovation and sustainability] into bold, graphical and abstract designs, which we then spent some time animating (below).

At first, I presumed one of the more experienced motion designers would tackle the difficult side of the project. But lo and behold, I became responsible for animating most of those short animations, and whilst more hands ended up touching it, I was very proud to have brought such bold and playful frames to life, learning a couple of new tricks along the way.

Abraham’s work on the Imex rebrand project at Buff Motion

How I got here

What was your journey like you were first starting out?
I got here with tons of help, support, luck and more work hours than I can recall.

At the start, this started as a hobby to create things that I saw online and make them look as sleek as what I saw, but as I became increasingly exposed to actually making content with tools like Premiere Pro, After Effects and designing in Illustrator and Photoshop in college, I quickly realised this would be much harder than expected, and even today I question if I’m actually good enough to do this well.

What might have gotten me to this point was the act of just creating for myself. I often did this in the basement of my uni’s course building, or doing experiments during the summer to add another project to my Behance portfolio.

Doing all those things forces you to watch more tutorials, curate projects you like, email and DM people you admire, as well as follow new artists and studios and shamelessly imitate their work, feel like garbage because your stuff looks really bad, iterate on it till it looks less crappy and post it online. You also do that for every new idea you have – until you’re tired of looking at it.

Focusing on creating work and putting it out there – even if it looks crap – has paid off in ways I didn’t even expect.

“Focusing on creating work and putting it out there – even if it looks crap – has paid off in ways I didn’t even expect.”

Motion research & development, process reel

How did you land your first roles and freelance work?
I was kind of thrown into the professional scene early on in college thanks to the help and support from my awesome tutor at the time, Bhavin Bhadresa.

After expressing my interest in UX design, he put me forward for a short placement at Diversity Films, a very new and small company focused on dance-inspired music production that was developing an app at the time. I was tasked with doing some demographic UX research, but soon began to tinker with logo and web design, graphics and other visual assets, which evolved into a creative internship with company, at their space in innovation centre and co-working space, Plexal.

“I did – and continue to do – as many of my own personal experiments and projects as much as possible. Doing this will hopefully lead you to paid work!”

The internship allowed me to connect with start-ups, businesses and ambitious people – one of which commissioned me to work on a logo design for their new venture at the time. It was surreal designing something that’d be so key to a new company, and I admittedly felt very unqualified, having to learn how to design logos, price my services and invoice on the fly.

Making a conscious effort to document these small gigs, and my final college project on my portfolio, had a bit of a snowball effect I didn’t predict, with more people approaching me for small freelance gigs here and there… genuinely thinking I was a real designer 🥲.

I did – and continue to do – as many of my own personal experiments and projects as much as possible. Doing this will hopefully lead you to paid work!

An animation Abraham made to explore three disciplines of interest ahead of his second year at university

What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
To be honest, a lot of the key challenges I had early on are ones I still have today. Some of these being:

My creative gap. The phrase, coined by [radio host] Ira Glass, means that my taste is far higher than what my actual skills can achieve, and it’s often so painful seeing all the great work being made by others, and realising that my current skills in design, animation and ideation are not even remotely as solid as artists’ I admire. It’s something that makes me question if I should just quit this creative thing and go back to selling shoes like I did in college...

Learning the software. With the myriad of new and improved tools out there, latest plugins, workflows and techniques, it’s so overwhelming and impossible to learn them all. This is fine, but I recognise I’m becoming too comfortable using X tool to do a job, when Y tool would probably be better suited.

Work-life balance. As much as I love art and digital, I’m recognising there’s more to life than just constantly creating work. But we live in a society that expects a high-volume of output from us, which often causes me to neglect other aspects of my life that I need and want to develop, in favour of squeezing that extra few hours here and there for work...

…these are all tricky things I’m working on 🏃🏾‍♂️

Have there been any courses, programmes, initiatives or access schemes you have found helpful and would recommend to get into your sector?
As mentioned before, I’ve massively benefited (and still do) from free YouTube tutorials, often creating experiments and sparking project ideas after learning new tricks. But once I became more interested in learning about motion design in a more structured way, School of Motion became a great place to learn some fundamentals.

I began by taking their free Path to Mograph course just to wrap my head around what motion design was, have an overview of the process and the tools that were used. Whilst in my sandwich year, I took the plunge and enrolled in their Animation Bootcamp course to keep progressing and learn some animation fundamentals alongside skills in After Effects. The bootcamp was very expensive and seriously intense – and a slap in the face with the reality of how many great artists are out there. But it ultimately taught me principles, workflows and lessons I use today.

School of Motion is only one of the growing number of learning platforms out there, such as Motion Design School – which I’ve heard is great for shorter, nicer techniques – and Skillshare classes, for access to a bit of everything.

(Hot tip: School of Motion also offers scholarships to a lucky few 🤞🏾)

Abraham’s homework submissions from School of Motion’s animation bootcamp

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful to your work, what would they be and why?
These are three things that paid off big-time:

Caring about it. Like actually wanting to make “the thing” (be it an animation, short loop, 3D render, poster and so on) as best as you can. Put in the time to turn it from “good enough” to really good, and if you have even more time, to great. Just giving a shit about “the thing” is critical, even if the end result is underwhelming.

Sharing the work. I’m coming to terms with the fact that my original vision might always be better than my execution, so even if what I worked on turned out to be underwhelming, I try to share it anyway. Over the years, I’ve admittedly not held up to this as I would’ve liked to, due to fear of [the work] looking basic or average, but ya know what? I am basic – I’m just a rookie trying to be better, and the volume of underwhelming projects you see on my profiles will hopefully make me better. So share your work on your Instagram, Behance, Vimeo, Dribbble... get it out there, get feedback and iterate!

Showing the process. While I admittedly care about producing a good-looking outcome, my early ideas, tests, failures and learnings are even more valuable, finding their way into conversions and interviews with individuals and studios I really admire… hell, maybe that’s one of the things that got me in at Buff! 😗

“Put in the time to turn your project from “good enough” to really good. Just giving a shit about creating work is critical, even if the end result is underwhelming.”

Snippet from Abraham’s uni project, Long Game

How important would you say social media and self-promotion are to your work?
I wasn’t a fan of getting an Instagram account when at college, but after being encouraged by one of my teachers to use it to share my work, I started getting attention from a few strangers, some of which approached me for work opportunities.

These are some things I try to keep in mind when it comes to social media and self-promotion:

  • Prioritise doing the work, and worry about where to post it afterwards.
  • “Put the work out there on social media, but don’t obsess about posting just for the sake of posting” – advice from [art director] Daniel Luna
  • Don’t just share the polished, finished outcome; also include parts of the process, such as sketches, prototypes or tests, discoveries and so on
  • Ask questions and reach out to the artists and studios you admire – some might be kind enough to reply and help out.
  • Never beg for likes or followers – ask for constructive feedback instead; it’s way more helpful.
  • If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the wave of amazing content on social apps (and feel like crap about your stuff), close the app and just focus on your project, however small or rough [it may be] – or go out and do something unrelated to art and design.

“If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the wave of amazing content on social apps, close the app and just focus on your own project, however rough [it may be].”

Abraham’s workspace at the Buff Motion studio

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
Funnily enough, I’ve always been pretty clueless about the money and business side of creative work. But over the years, I’ve picked up a couple tips:

  • Avoid working for free. If you’re at a stage where you are able to create something of use and value to anyone, and you spent a significant amount of time and energy into it, you should be paid. The only exception to this might be if you’re still in school and money isn’t a priority, or if it’s a spec job for you to just mess around with.
  • Know your day rate. I’ve often been thrown into freelance gigs without being ready, and was often unsure of the monetary value of what I was doing. So do your research and ask creative professionals and friends what the ideal day rate someone at your level should charge.
  • Value time over money. If you feel like you really need to hone certain skills, be it through courses or personal projects, commit to spending time towards those goals, instead of filling every free moment with paid jobs. Those new things you learn could end up making you a much bigger return of investment in the long run.
  • Learn to say no. At various stages, I was very fortunate to be approached with work opportunities – many that were very tempting. But sometimes you just have to prioritise fewer things and ensure those are done well, instead of taking on more than you can chew, or interrupting your learning.

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve found myself remembering a few key nuggets at various stages of my creative journey, the key ones being:

1. “Do what you feel, not what’s right. This is the only time in your life you can do this… You will have plenty of time to get frustrated cuz you don’t do what you love. Don’t start this early”.

This advice was shared with me by Madalin Dragnea, now a creative and motion director at All Mad Studio. He shared this with me when I was feeling stuck and unsatisfied with an internship that didn’t resonate with my interests. I hold onto this nugget of wisdom as a reminder to allow myself to be selfish with my creative interests when I have the chance to do so.

2. “Put in excellence, do the best you can and treat people well”. This is a paraphrase of a quote from a podcast interview with Ordinary Folk. I subconsciously try to practise it in almost everything I do and with everyone I interact with, no matter how small or mundane.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
Be curious and proactive. Don’t worry too much about how you’ll make money off it at first, and just really enjoy making the work. Start by creating and sharing your work, then figure out the rest later.

Another lesson I’m learning and trying to always keep in mind when I’m low is that, realistically, there‘s always gonna be someone better, faster, younger and more successful than me – but that‘s OK, because my goal is to make the cool shit that got me into the game and learn from everyone to improve, not to win awards.

Interview by Frankie Mari
Mention Abraham Egbobawaye