Teaching in motion: An interview with Jake Bartlett
Jake Bartlett is arguably the most popular teacher of Motion Graphics on Skillshare. With over 25 classes under his belt, Jake now shares his knowledge across a variety of platforms such as School of Motion, YouTube and Instagram. In this conversation we learn about how Jake got started in teaching, how it became his full-time gig and what any of us looking to develop our animation chops should do.
How did you get into teaching on Skillshare?
It’s kind of crazy, but I actually joined a teach challenge. They were giving away a MacBook Air to the winner and I honesty may have never tried to teach if it wasn’t for that challenge. And yes, I did win ;)
Over 25 classes later, what has the impact of your success on Skillshare had on the rest of career?
It has completely transformed my career. When I taught my first class I was working full time at a production company as a motion designer. After a year I decided to freelance full-time, with Skillshare being a large portion of my income. And after two years of that I’ve had such success with teaching online that I’m now doing it full time.
Your wife Jamie also teaches design courses. What’s it like being a family of teachers?
It’s fantastic! Since we’re in similar fields, we both help each other make our courses. Most of my designs have Jamie’s help, and anything Jamie needs animated is taken care of by me. We’ve always loved getting to work together creatively and this has given us many great opportunities to do so.
You’ve recently started a YouTube channel. What has that been like?
YouTube has been awesome. I’ve received a very positive response to the new content, and am very excited to continue there. I started it as a way to teach topics that didn’t fit well into a Skillshare class format, so they’re typically on the shorter side. I really like the spontaneity of it too. Since the tutorials aren’t project based I’m able to very quickly come up with an idea and turn it into a YouTube video.
What would you recommend to anyone looking to teach what they know online?
Make a list of the qualities you appreciate about other online tutorials and classes you’ve seen, and another list of the things that really bother you. Before I was a teacher I was a learner (and still am), so I had seen plenty of tutorials that were presented wonderfully, and even more that were full of annoyances. I want to make content that people actually enjoy watching, not content that annoys people. And that’s how I’ve always approached teaching.
What kind of work do you love doing the most?
Honestly I love teaching most of all. But in my field, lyric videos are one of my favorite types of project. I love animating typography, and lyric videos generally have a very open visual direction, which gives me a lot of freedom to play.
How do balance your freelance work with your personal projects and teaching?
Well at this point I’m only teaching, so it’s more of a balance between the platforms I teach on. Skillshare is still priority #1, so that usually gets scheduled into my weekly calendar. I’m building a second course for School of Motion right now, which has a deadline, so that also has to be accounted for. And since my YouTube channel isn’t really producing any income at the moment, it’s at the bottom of the priority list, but I’m still anxious to post new content regularly. The same goes for my Instagram account. To balance all of those I really just look at the deadlines, prioritize, and schedule as best I can.
What would you recommend to any designers or illustrators looking to get into motion graphics?
Dive in! There are so many amazing online learning resources for you today. When I started there were only a handful. If you’d like to dabble, check out Video Copilot, School of Motion, Mt. Mograph, and ECAbrams on YouTube. If you’re interested in more focused teaching, check out some of the MANY Skillshare classes on Animation (not just mine!). And if you’re serious about getting into Motion Design, look into School of Motion’s Animation Bootcamp. It will completely transform you as a Motion Designer.