How I became a freelance motion designer

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Alexandre Soubrier
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Destined to be an electronics engineer, I've always had a passion for illustration, design and animation. And I set out to make a living from an artistic profession...
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From engineer to animator

Being independent is great: you manage your time, you choose your projects, you train and learn every day.
But before you get there, you have to work hard.

When your family and friends tell you that your best option is to go into science because you're good at maths, you don't really believe them, but you trust them anyway. So you do a preparatory course, get into an engineering school, and come out with a diploma.

During my final year, I still competed in the creative schools that attracted me, such as Gobelins or Arts DĂ©cos, but obviously without success. In the end, I took a DEA in multimedia design, which gave me all the foundations I needed to move forward, and I supplemented this with all the evening classes I could take.

In particular, I recommend Paris Atelier en animation.

After four years in an operational marketing agency, Marquetis, learning my trade, understanding customers, businesses, collaborations and ways of doing things, I thought it was time for me to fly on my own, especially since I'd just won an FWA, which gave me a huge boost of confidence (too much?).

The fall was hard.

Becoming independent

The first failures are the slow and tedious learning of French administrative paperwork. Because before auto-entrepreneurship, nothing was simple. Between social security contributions, statutes, corporate taxes and revenue declarations, you have to understand everything pretty quickly to start working in good conditions. And no one in these administrations understood anything about the status of freelance graphic designer. I ended up at the Maison des Artistes wondering (like ALL graphic designers) what the deductions were for, and I ended up paying twice as much tax as I should have...

Secondly, becoming self-employed means facing up to solitude. You have to be highly motivated to maintain discipline, find customers, manage them, do your accounts, keep learning and producing. Fortunately, coworking spaces emerged around ten years ago to counter this solitude. And it's perhaps one of the best things that ever happened to us.

Finally, becoming self-employed means finding your own customers. There are lots of different ways of doing this, but the best way is to meet people and get out of the house. Today, many people talk about personal branding. But it's very time-consuming, and it's not quite the way we started out.

Keeping pace

After a few years, I began to make a name for myself around Adobe Flash, helping customers as far afield as Australia. The power of Flash was that one man could produce an entire site, interactive, animated, with sound design and video, in a matter of days. Like this 2Advanced site.

And Flash was murdered.

Well, okay, it's not that bad. But when you're in production, mastering new software isn't that easy, and you have to choose the right one.

And that's what being a freelancer is all about: constant adaptation. Times move so fast, it's not always easy to keep up.

So I wandered into the realms of web design, javascript code and UX, only to realize, perhaps a little too late, that motion design was in fact the best route to take, as it was the closest to what Flash allowed, minus the interactivity.

And that's what I've been doing for the past few years.

Keeping up to date

Creating animated films can't be invented. You need a lot of technical, artistic and cultural knowledge.
A flair for music is a plus.
Knowledge of 3D software is a plus.
Knowing how to tell stories is a plus. But it's the director's tool, and I see a lot of motion designers becoming directors.

And when you're doing 3D, the choice is yours: 3DS Max? Maya? Cinema 4D?
Today, it's Blender that's all the rage, along with Houdini and Unreal Engine 5, which works miracles in real time. How do you manage when everything changes every year?

The important thing is to stay the course and know what you really want. And surround yourself with the best specialists.

As far as I'm concerned, my aim is to help companies communicate in the best possible way. To deliver a message that will be received and understood. That's the most important thing for me.


Independence is a growing dream, especially when you've had a taste of telecommuting, but it's not all plain sailing. Far from it! (wow, the expression 😅)

So if you want to become self-employed, think carefully about what you want out of it!
And if you want to hire freelancers, respect their work and remuneration, and take care with your communication!

Photo de profil d'Alexandre Sobrier, motion designer freelance
Alexandre Soubrier

Alexandre Soubrier is a freelance motion designer with a passion for illustration and animation. He created the podcast Exquises Exquisses in which he interviews author-illustrators, and produces this blog.
‍Contact him here or on Linked In.

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