Profile: Art & Graft

When creative animator Mike Moloney found himself stuck in a job he disliked, he decided to strike out on his own and has never looked back. Yolanda Zappaterra hears about his new venture and why he’s determined to stay ahead of the crowd

There is unlikely to be a more appropriate place for new motion graphics studio Art & Graft than Fashion Street, in the heart of London’s East End. This is not because the ancient area is achingly hip, but because regeneration is at the heart of it, just as it is for Mike Moloney, creative director of Art & Graft.

Moloney has just launched this new creative animation and live-action venture after years of running Michael Moloney Studio, a name he’s never liked and one that was thought up on the spur of the moment in 2003 when he needed a company name to get a freelance job. Then, the studio was a small, one-man enterprise run by a graphic design graduate who, by his second year, knew that he wanted to create ’print that moved’. The name sufficed at the time, but now Moloney has bigger plans.

’I want big things for Art & Graft, and chose the name because it sums up the need for a creative spark, and the ability to translate that spark through hard work,’ Moloney says.

His CV, which includes promos, videos and title sequences for clients including Fallon, Love Creative, Euro RSCG, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, MTV, Nickelodeon, Levi’s, Paramount and Virgin, shows that hard work has always been at the heart of Moloney’s productivity. Equally, the breadth and variety of his showreel eloquently demonstrate his creativity, as well as a bold confidence rooted in a very early belief in himself as a creative person.

’At school, I was always really good at drawing, and I’d be sent off to show other pupils and teachers my work,’ recalls Maloney. He reckons this gave him the confidence to carry on creating, but also the deep desire to be ’the best drawer I possibly could be’.

He took this desire for continual improvement to Camberwell College of Arts, at a time when the likes of Tomato and its title sequence for Trainspotting was ’making print design seem very limited’, says Moloney. He proceeded to the nascent Deepend, where he worked on broad briefs in an environment that encouraged experimentation and creative play.

But all this changed when he took a job at PPC, a film trailer company, and found a regimented structure that he quickly realised he couldn’t work in. ’I walked out one day – despite having just gotten a mortgage – and it gave me a huge buzz. It was a sense of being able to do anything,’ he recalls.

A week later MTV called and asked him to create the title sequence for Big Chill Zone, since when he hasn’t looked back, constantly trying to find ’Utopia – work that the client loves and does everything they want it to do, but that your peers are impressed by, too’.

It’s obviously working: the impetus to move from a one-man operation has been driven by more work and the desire to create an ’organised, solid structure with permanent staff’.

The future of motion graphics is likely to be filled with ever more moving images driven by more delivery platforms and bigger global audiences, with more people creating them. Increasingly, lower technology costs will enable anyone with a computer to create broadcast-quality material, but Moloney is unfazed by such developments.

’Everyone’s going to have to raise their game. We just have to concentrate on the quality of a piece, and that comes down to the concept, a great idea married to an understanding of the technology, and knowing how to create work with heart and soul. That’s what will keep us ahead of the crowd,’ he says.

What won’t change is Moloney’s way of working. ’I have always wanted options and a free rein to do creatively what I want to do – if there’s one thing about being your own boss, it’s being able to do that,’ he says.

That, and always making sure you’re the best drawer in the school.

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