Your home is on fire. You call for help. Who answers? The fire department, of course, but who are those people? “The Call” is an animated short I made to explore this question. This is a question I think about a lot; when I’m not working as an After Effects artist, I’m a volunteer firefighter. Comprised of 2D animation and a healthy dose of statistical information, this piece is a portrait of an institution that serves a critical role in many of our lives. It was crafted in my spare time over the course of about seven months as a showcase of my illustration and 2D animation work.

Based loosly on "The Call," Abington Township (PA) Fire commissioned this short film as part of their recruitment and retention efforts. I wrote, directed, illustrated and animated this piece, which was viewed over 32,000 times in its first month online, and earned Abington Township the 2019 Recruitment and Retention Award from the Fireman’s Association of the State of Pennsylvania.

In a hyperreal combination of live action and animation, a musician navigates his daydreams in an epic and comedic struggle to release his first album. Pop Meets the Void is my second feature-length collaboration with director William Cusick and producer TaraFawn Maen. I handled the keying/compositing, and also creative directed and animated the extensive hybrid live action/animation sequences in the film. It won the "Best Feature Film" award at the 2016 Lower East Side Film Festival, where it premiered, and went on to win the "Audience Choice" and "Best of Fest" awards at the 2016 Queens World Film Festival. It has been released by Filmbuff and is available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

Here's a closer look at the visual effects and animation work I did on this piece:

Produced by Expand the Room for Knewton, this video takes viewers on a spin through the challenges facing today's college instructors, and the way their unique software solution can help. Starting from a script and a blank screen, I designed, illustrated, and animated this piece.

I created this "explainer" video pro bono for the Firefighter Cancer Alliance. It's a nice example of my motion graphics work.

Services Offered

I work as a motion graphics artist, creating digital animation for broadcast, web, cinema, and to accompany live performance. My specialty is working with two-dimensional source materials such as illustration, video footage, type and photographs to create multimedia composite animation, primarily using the After Effects software suite. I bring strong illustration, photography, typography and traditional fine arts skills to my work, and draw upon these skills to create unqiue animation assets from scratch. I also have extensive experience in greenscreen keying, compositing, rotoscoping, camera stabilization, generative 3D particle simulation systems, and other aspects of postproduction visual effects. I pair these visual and technical skills with a strong background in writing and narrative storytelling to execute client's needs from concept to finished product.


Curriculum Vitae

I hold a Masters degree in Fine Art from the Design and Technology (DT) program at Parsons (2007), where I studied narrative animation and broadcast design, and a BA from the Gallatin School at New York University (2001), where my studies focused on critical theory. I have worked as a designer professionally since 1999 and have been full-time freelance since 2003. If you're interested, you can check out more details of my professional experience and education on LinkedIn.

I live and work in Pawlet, Vermont, where I serve my community as Chief of our town's volunteer fire department. I am also a certified fire service instructor and teach part-time at the Vermont Fire Academy., the state agency responsible for providing fire service training and certification to emergency responders.

So, Uh, What's a Surfacist?

Surfacism is a made-up term that both describes and informs my work. As an motion graphics artist, I am a specialist in 2.5 dimensional digital space– I deal with flat planes, or surfaces. But in a more figurative sense, I see all the visual work I produce as a surface. Designers often talk about their craft as a process of organization, of laying out elements to optimize function. In this way of thinking, design takes on the characteristics of architecture. But unlike architecture, you can't experience work on screen by moving around it, or walking through it, or running your hands over it. This work is not so much like a building as it is like the reflection of a building in a pond, an image lacking depth: a surface. Is it beautiful or ugly? Graceful or awkward? Compelling or uninteresting? All of these judgements are passed on a simple visual impression. As the designer, that surface impression is my purview. Thinking about design this way, concept and execution are inseparable.

I strive to approach my work in a painterly manner, creating a whole that benefits from the contradictions and juxtapositions within it and makes use of them, rather than trying to hide the brushstrokes and blur the seams.


183 Vermont Route 133, Pawlet, Vermont 05761   
(802) 325-7070   |   jon@surfacist[dot]com   |   LinkedIn   |   Vimeo