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Creating with Intention: Artist Nowy Aratan on Finding Her Voice Through Motion Design

By Arry Asiddao
October 12, 2023

Nowy Aratan's path to motion design was far from straightforward. Like many artists, she, too, doubted the practicality of her interest, and is still continuously experimenting with her style. She does, however, believe passionately that art can be used to empower and create positive change.

Before venturing into freelancing and starting her own brand all by herself, Nowy was a director at rezonate, a design agency. In this interview, we spoke with Nowy about the difficulties and opportunities she faced as a freelancer, the process of discovering her creative signature, and how she uses art to advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and women empowerment.

How did you end up specializing in motion design, and what initially drew you to this creative field?

Reflections Project. Photo Courtesy of Nowy Aratan.

I grew up watching Pixar and Disney films. And at the back of my head, I guess I’ve always wanted to get into film and animation, something that involves storytelling and creating motion pictures. That was a world that appealed to me but it wasn’t a very practical dream to have, especially coming from a small town in Cavite.

When I took multimedia arts at Mapúa University, it opened up my world to all sorts of mediums like painting, photography, graphic design, and illustration. I was excited and was drawn into the world of visual creation and communication.

I never thought I could do that as a profession so I decided to explore it further.

With graphic design as my foundation, amongst other skills, I started at Flux Design Labs, now known as rezonate, creating layouts and designs for annual reports, print media, and branding. That eventually evolved into creating illustration assets and style frames for animation projects. When I was done with my designs, I would get curious and find myself helping out on animation scenes little by little until I could eventually handle them on my own. I thought it was really cool and unique but not a lot of people are doing it. It was also perfect how my foundation in design, my desire for storytelling, my curiosity about the process, and my aspiration to create a motion picture could all come together in this one thing. It’s so expansive and felt like literally unlocking a multiverse of creative madness.

Transitioning from a full-time employee to a freelancer can be a significant change. Could you elaborate on the most impactful experiences you've had since making this shift?

Going freelance definitely involves some risks and it’s not for the faint of heart. But one defining moment for me would be getting that one client/project/person that will make you really believe in yourself. I thought if they believed in what I did and the value I offered, I must be doing something right. That for me, was the Geisha project I did for Sumo Restaurants, which has also led me to several other projects including the recent visualizer I made with Leanne and Naara for their new single ‘Di na Babalik.

And beyond those projects, I’ve learned that it could really take some time to get yourself out there and have consistent work. But you have to stay persistent and be an advocate for yourself. If the work is not coming to you, you have to go to them.

In your portfolio, you've showcased a variety of styles and aesthetics. How do you approach adapting your style to meet the requirements of each project while retaining your brand or distinctive creative signature?

Neo Noir. Photo Courtesy of Nowy Aratan.

To be honest, I have always struggled with having a specific style. I am adaptive in that sense and have always been creating in service of discovery and translating a brief into something visual. Having been working with a team for over eight years, I’ve concluded that a style is something you arrive at after doing research, experiments, consumption, and then filtering out a web of ideas, knowledge, and interests. But that is not to say that I don’t give it a personal touch. After all, my work is the by-product of my creative problem-solving. Nowadays, I mostly enjoy doing ambient loop animations because it is a scale that I can do independently and be experimental with. And it works out because I also get inquiries about them for actual paid work so I get to do more of it.

How do you envision technology shaping motion design, and in what ways do you foresee it impacting your own work?

Technology is a big driving force for motion design. I believe that motion design is the culmination of all mediums, where the lines can blur between disciplines. Technology will keep making motion design better, more complex, and more in demand especially with AI, VR, AR, Generative art, etc. At the same time, it will also definitely make things optimized, especially for a one-person team
like me to have a more efficient workflow at a smaller scale.

You have worked on advocacy projects before. Could you share the specific causes or issues you are passionate about, and how do you utilize your art to support these causes?

In the past, I volunteered at Metro Manila Pride to help develop visual collaterals for
LGBTQIA+ events. I also advocate for women empowerment and have always viewed art as a vessel to create something good, whether it’s designing campaigns or donating proceeds to charity, or simply amplifying and bringing awareness to different causes. This is what I mean when I say creating with intention. It’s important for me to be conscious, to stay connected in this way to the reality of the world, and to have compassion for the people around me. Participating in these advocacies is my way of creating a balance between work that pays the bills and work that nourishes my soul.

With these efforts, I hope to inspire a community and a safe space for learning and discovery around motion design in the Philippines. I hope to pay forward the empowerment that I found in spaces that gave me the opportunity to be the person I am today and that art can be a viable career that a woman can be at the center of.

To see more of Nowy’s work, visit her website or follow her on Instagram.

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