Having Fun with Every Frame
Italian animator Emanuele Colombo is known for his effervescent characters and crisp style. The self-taught freelancer has worked for some of the world’s biggest brands and has devoted time to nonprofit organizations like Greenpeace and Change.org. This artist strives to change the world, one animation at a time.
Emanuele Colombo grew up in the heart of Alps, in his own words, “spending time building spaceships with Legos and dreaming of becoming a paleontologist.” But he eventually left his dreams of dinosaur digging behind and instead focused on digital storytelling. He studied audio-video communications at the University of Milan, learning the ins and outs of video editing and audio production. He dabbled in some Adobe After Effects animation work, but it wasn’t his primary focus at the time.
CREATING NEW OPPORTUNITY
He left the agency behind and began teaching himself how to animate using a combination of Adobe Illustrator and After Effects. He learned from Adobe tutorials and how-tos he found on YouTube, and he read every article about animation that he could get his hands on. He worked on personal projects—short videos and looping GIFs that he shared on his Vimeo page—to develop his skills. Some of them became viral hits, and soon he was getting job offers from around the world.
Today, Colombo works for big brands like MTV, Google, IBM, Yahoo, Airbnb, American Express, ESPN, and Saatchi & Saatchi.
Colombo’s process is very organic and freeform. He starts with a creative brief from the client, and then he builds a storyboard. Next, he sketches out characters in Illustrator before moving on to After Effects, where it all comes together.
Client work keeps the lights on, but Colombo wants to do more. He recently completed a video based on an online bullying incident—a popular YouTube vlogger attacked a person with Asperger syndrome. “I just thought that I could use my skill to do something useful, and my final goal was to give it for free to all the anti-bullying associations that were interested in using it on their website or social channels,” he says. The video, Don’t Be a Bully, Loser, is now available through the nonprofit The Bully Project to help teachers and students prevent bullying around the world.
So what’s the secret to success? “First thing is, create a quality product,” says Colombo. “Because the Internet is an incredible democratic environment, and if you do something cool, people will notice you, and you will immediately start receiving job offers. The last advice I would share is to have fun. This is beautiful work for me…to have the chance to express my creativity every day and do something fun is something that I would never imagine could become real in my life. So just have fun. It’s the best advice I can give.”