Meet the Michie

I think good design is about nailing an objective that will resonate in some way with the target audience. I used to think design is a process, but I think that’s changed. It’s more to do with making something…a system, a product, a story, an experience….that suites the people it was targeting. You can’t please everyone, but if you have done your homework, you can create fans with the right group.

Trends….I think there’s going to be a massive push into biotechnology, considering our aging population. I’m also pleasantly surprise by the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement.

Dare I say it, I think 20-30-somethings are starting to wake up and be proactive in changing the status quo. The open source communities out there have enabled anyone who wants to make cool stuff. What’s not in trend (thankfully) is this idea that being jaded about everything is cool.

Looking back, I’d say I became a motion designer because I love to tell stories. I used to draw comics when I was a kid, then fell in love with gaming and thought how cool it would be to make them. That was my original intention when I enrolled at MacEwan’s Design program.

I visited Bioware and had them tell me that designers, not artists are the preferred choice to hire. Designers know how to objectify the work and understand who they are designing for.

However, one particular faculty member Joe Raffa soon changed that path. He’s a great teacher and a terrific 3-D animation and motion designer. After we made our first five-second animation project, I was hooked. Now I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Raffa also gave me my first job compositing for a documentary for the Discovery Channel. Funny how things works out.

I majored in Design and Digital Media because at the time I was really interested in game and web design. There was a massive trend toward flash animated websites and I wanted to make those. Funny how times have so drastically changed. Now Flash seems to be one its way out of the webosphere and niching in real world interfaces and kiosks.

Once I discovered Motion Graphics though, I knew what path I wanted for myself. There’s something to be said about making a beautiful motion graphic piece.

MacEwan was a great place to learn and push past my limitations. To put it bluntly, it was a great place to fall down. You can’t do that in the professional world. Being able to have a place where you can do that safely and learn why, is a prime reason why MacEwans Design program is great.

I was a fine artist coming into a completely different world. The design mentality is very different from that of a fine art mentality. It’s not really about you per say, it’s not about the the studio you work for, or even the client hiring you! It’s always about the audience. Always, always, always. Get that right, and you’ll be one your way to becoming a design rockstar.

Another thing that MacEwan nurtured was the Design Student Organization (DSO). Five of my peers and I created this group that tried to bridge the gap between the students and the industry, and we did it the loudest way possible. There were no limits to that group! We organized a Vinyl toy doll fundraiser called the Munny show with a local retail store called FOOSH, collaborated with the GDC (Graphics Designers of Canada) to screen the documentary “Helvetica” and even brought the mythical New York Designer Stephan Sagmeister to come talk to Edmonton’s Design community. And that was the first year! If nothing else that experience was worth the price of admission. We came up with wild hair- brained ideas and together as students, executed them.

I hear the DSO is thriving now and collaborating with every other education institutions in the city. I’m very proud of what came of it.

That’s one the best parts of being a designer. You have the tools to execute ANY idea that pops into your head. No matter how big, or out there it may seem.

Now, I’m a world travelling freelance motion designer. A bit long winded yes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Last year I was working in London with a great studio called Neon. While there I executed the biggest campaign of my career. A national campaign for Sky TV (one of the major broadcast stations there) It had digital signage, large scale billboard and newpaper runs, and commercials that appeared on every television in the UK. It was terribly fun to do, the team was a dream to work for and I lived in London! I love that city! The best and ambitious flock there and collaborate together, it’s fantastic.

Now I’m back in Canada freelancing in Toronto and Montreal. I’m currently working with Hatch Studios in Toronto on an animation…but that’s all I can say for now. Very hush hush. I’m also in preproduction for my first short. I’m hoping to collaborate with the National Filmboard. We’ll see how the next year pans out.

In the future I hope to move back to Europe. I think London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Berlin are the Motion design hot spots right now. The creativity is oozing in every corner there, and everyone wants to play with everyone else.

My dream is to work at Onesize or Postpanic….or both!

Advice? hmm. I’d say above all else, travel and soak it up. What you absorb from those experiences is what’s going to elevate your work as a designer, hands down. Today it’s easy to go online and tutorialize to become proficient with the programs you’ll use, and the internet is crowded with amazing design work. While it’s a great place to see what’s going on, your life experience is what you should put into your work. It’s one of a kind and people will relate to the authenticity. If after that, if you feel like design is your kind of thing, going to school will give a place to learn while making cool stuff and try on different hats. At the end of the day though, never stop making stuff. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t your best work, learning by doing takes courage and the industry wants to see that in its disciples.

 You can contact Joshua Michie at

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