Co-Founder & Creative Director, Aaron Ray

Be confident. Be a good listener. Learn to read between the lines.

Aaron Ray
Co-founder and Creative Director Legwork
 

Describe your job to us, what’s your title & what do you do.

I’m a co-founder and creative director at Legwork. I act as the director of animation, with my main focus being on content, spots, and illustration projects. We wear many hats here, so my day-to-day can change from pitching, concepting and directing, to designing styleframes and animating. In addition to animation work, we’re also a digital studio, so occasionally I find myself doing interactive design or concepting experiential projects.

 

What are some of the perks and challenges you experience while working in a creative field?

Luckily, a lot of the work we do really is art (even if it is for a brand), we get to explore, concept, sketch, code, draw, color and create. That’s what drives a creative person, making stuff. So it’s definitely a perk that we can make a living doing this stuff, and it’s a great feeling when you can make something that not only appeals to your tastes but also gets the client excited. On the flip side, we’re making it for clients, on tight deadlines, with money at stake. It can get stressful, there are plenty of late nights, if you have creative block or something’s not working you can’t just put it down. It’s a balancing act, and you have to be able to come up with solutions on the fly.

 

Tell us about your background and what led you to join the creative side?

If we go way back, I remember my dad drawing a lot. I think that was the start. Also, it’s cliché to say these days, but I owe a lot to skateboarding for inspiring me as a creative. Especially in the late 80s through the 90s, skateboard graphics were so strong, and probably launched the careers of many artist and designers. I spent hours and hours staring at the magazines, boards, t-shirts, and stickers, trying to mimic the art styles of Jim Phillips and Vernon Courtlandt Johnson. So, it was through skateboarding, comics, music, and a love for cartoons that I began to see a potential for a career. I graduated college with a bachelor's in 3D animation. From there, I worked as a designer in various industries doing everything from album cover design, skate and snowboard graphics, to national print ad campaigns.

 

How does the culture in your office influence the work you create?

My partners and I all have backgrounds in music, skateboarding and snowboarding. These subcultures are all about creativity and originality, and they’re built on a ‘do-it-yourself’ mentality. Organically, we’ve built the studio around these traits, and most of our team have similar tastes and interests. So, the culture in the office is open and collaborative, we work hard because we want to deliver work we’re proud of (not just because it’s a job), we’re self-starters, we push each other and we help each other.

 

If I’m entering the industry and I want to move into the creative side, what steps should I take?

Be confident. Be a good listener. Learn to read between the lines. I think for any junior designer, animator, illustrator or developer it’s important to be able to look at your own work and know if it’s good or bad—take your work and compare it to the best professional work out there. How does it hold up? Follow the industry, know the trends, and surround yourself with people better than you.

 

Do you have a dream account or brand you would like to work on? Which one?

I’m not really concerned with the brand itself generally, it’s more about the creative potential of the project. So, that could really be any brand big or small. However, I’d love to do more music video direction or interactive experiences (I’m looking at you Matador, Sub Pop, Temporary Residence). Also, since the world is such a shitty place right now, I’m interested in doing work that benefits a cause.

 

What piece of work are you most proud of?

This is an impossible question. I’ll narrow it down to some of my favorites:

Pandora Smokepurpp: https://vimeo.com/280759140

The Boxtrolls website: https://vimeo.com/124862150

Google Roll-It: https://vimeo.com/83090042

New York Times - Obama vs. Boehner: https://vimeo.com/39365605

 

What is your favorite ad of all time?

I don’t know about all time, but this one from Nike last year really stands out to me. I have an 8-year-old daughter so I stand behind any work that empowers girls at a young age.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_iCIISngdI