Meet the Members: Chris Caswell
Meet Chris Caswell, top-tier motion designer, king of snacks and expert solo camper . He’s not much of a morning person (you’ll be lucky to see him before 10am) but he’s always the first one to make a new member feel welcome. Chris joined us way back when we set up our flagship space in Southville and has stuck by our side ever since. Nowadays you can find him pitched up at the back of Brunswick Sq’s Resident space, headphones on and in the zone.
We caught up with Chris last week at Brunswick Sq and chatted all things motion design, plus how he keeps his style fresh for each new project.
Can you tell us what you do and what an average work day looks like?
I work as a Motion Designer in Film & TV, creating title sequences and motion graphics. I’m a freelancer, so I’m hired by a director/producer on a per project basis. On an average day; I cycle to the office, grab a coffee and chat to a few of the members. Then when I finally come to sit down at my desk the day can vary massively; I could be designing concepts for a future film project, creating a title sequence for a tv series, or making motion graphics for a documentary.
What are you watching/listening to at the moment?
As everyone in the space knows, I’m a film buff and you’ll frequently find me at the Watershed cinema in town. My standout film of this year has to be Titane by Julia Ducournau, she also directed Raw which is a must see as well. When I’m not being an arthouse film snob I’ll typically be watching a sitcom like Peep Show. I’m also an avid album listener. I tend to get obsessed with an album, play it on repeat for weeks, then find the next one and do the same. A few albums I’ve been into recently are; Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights; Islandman – Rest in Space and High Vis – Blending.
How do you keep your work feeling fresh? Do you have a certain way of reinvigorating your creativity?
Every project I work on is telling its own unique story, so I’m always striving to make the design I create for every project unique and different as well. I’m a bit of a chameleon in that sense, I don’t feel like I have one design style, I adapt and change my designs to fit the project, which in itself helps keep things fresh.
Recently though, I found myself in a bit of a creative rut. I felt like I was reusing the same processes and techniques everyday that my work started to feel similar and boring to me. So I decided I needed to switch up my process to add some excitement back into my work, and that inevitably went hand in hand with learning something new.
I decided to start adding analogue methods into my workflow and it’s completely revitalised my creative process. On a TV series I worked on recently the 90s VHS aesthetic was important to the story. So instead of creating the look digitally in After Effects, I put my work on an old CRT TV and then ran it through a video synthesiser to create a unique analogue glitch look. Then for another recent project, the design look was heavily leaning into collage and photo scanning. So, rather than designing in Photoshop and adding all the textures in post, I decided to print out a load of assets, create various collage compositions, and scan them back into the computer before animating them in After Effects.
Breaking out of the computer allowed me to see my work from a different perspective and also added a lot of excitement back into the creative process. That’s the most important thing we sometimes forget as designers, the process should be fun, not a battle!
With that in mind, is there anything you’re working on at the moment that’s exciting you?
Yes, but I can’t tell you. As much as I want to be shrouded in mystery, it’s actually just because every project I work on has an NDA attached to it. Although, there is one thing I can tell you about – at the beginning of the year I created a title sequence for a documentary series that will be available on Apple TV+ by the end of the year, so keep an eye out!
What kit/tools can you not live without?
Tech-wise it has to be After Effects, my Wacom Tablet and a pair of good quality headphones (you’ll find me constantly head banging in the corner of the room whilst I work). I also have a stack of art and photography books on my desk which I always refer back to.
Where is your favourite place to eat in Bristol?
Hmmm there are too many good spots in Bristol, I’ll have to give you one for each meal. Breakfast – Crafty Egg. Lunch – Pasta Loco. Dinner – Seven Lucky Gods.
Why did you choose to come to Gather Round?
As a freelancer working remotely, it’s really important to have a creative environment. When you’re working full time in a design studio you’re surrounded by creative energy all the time that it’s not something you really think about. But shortly after becoming freelance and working remotely I realised that it was hard to recreate that environment by yourself, you need people around you for that energy. So a coworking space with a focus on the creative industry was exactly what I was looking for. There’s a bunch of other designers around, which is great for sharing work, getting feedback and inspiring you, which was something I missed most about working in a design studio.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Chris! If you want to see more of Chris’ work, check out his website.
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