It's not often you can walk into an established design studio and be mentored by some of the most dynamic producers, designers, and technologists in the industry. The collective of talented minds at Sarofsky give their time to nurture the next cohort of creatives, and they do so in the Sarofsky Labs; tinkering with and developing new ideas with their workshop attendees.

The goal is to not only give you a peek inside of an actual working production paradigm and teach you valuable working knowledge about a topic, but it’s also our intent that participants leave the workshop with a portfolio worthy piece.

We chatted with Executive Creative Director, Erin Sarofsky, to learn more about the workshops offered at the Labs.

What inspired the idea of having an instructional arm of the company?

After speaking at conferences like FITC, F5 and OFFF I realized that engaging in the community is just as important to the field as doing the work. And what better way to do that, than by opening the studio up and inviting people in for a workshop. It’s intimate, personal and offers a glimpse of our world… Something where an hour lecture could only scratch the surface. Having been out of school for some time now I crave the opportunity to re-create that feeling. No client, just exploration for the point of exploration. But the fun part of school is the camaraderie, the atmosphere created when we all embark on our projects in tandem, offering support and advice.

Really, for us, it’s about giving people the opportunity to be creative, have fun and provide expert insights, in a medium we love. I've recently also contributed to the School of Motion book coming out… And when I did that, it dawned on me that there is a whole group of students out there being educated in a new way, entirely online.

I went to traditional art school where we had lessons and then labs where we all worked together in the same room, even if it was independently. So I started thinking that if I were in an online university setting I would miss the opportunity to have that in-person group lab experience. Sarofsky Labs is a great addition to any online-education.

What inspires a workshop topic?

Our day to day work inspires all of the topics. We decided to break down the skills that we use on a daily basis into teachable chunks. For example, the design for motion workshop focuses on the early stage part of our process; communicating as best as we can what the project will be and look like if you work with us. We win and lose jobs based on this part, so it’s essential to be able to pitch work in a smart, efficient, meaningful way that shows you have a point of view.

Another example is producing for motion. If you work in the field you know how valuable a strong producer is. They are the main contact with the client and help dictate the paradigm of our work, and our life. There are a lot of best practices people should follow in general but also we have some bits of info we have learned over the years that ensure a positive experience.

What do you hope people take away from the workshops?

I hope people take away from the class what it is like to work in a studio environment - everything from how files are organized, to what it’s like to have  your work reviewed by a Creative Director. There are a lot of great seeds of information that we give based on our experiences, so the question/answer sessions tend to go on way longer than we expect. I also hope that people will get a solid piece for their portfolio.

What do you hope your crew take away from them?

It’s one thing to do work, it’s another to be a mentor. My hope is that they become stronger communicators, develop more empathy for those making the work, and hone their ability to provide feedback. It’s a hard thing to give thoughtful and workable direction…if they get better at doing that for other people it will make them better at it when they step back and look at their own work.

What advice would you give for someone looking to work at Sarofsky?

Have a demo reel, a website, and send us your work. You don’t need a lot of work, you just need to show us you have strong animation and design sensibilities. People think we are hiring all the time, and to a certain extent we are. The industry is so fluid and work load expands and contracts quite quickly, we do engage a lot of talented freelance and contract staffers. But you, as an artist or producer, have to realize the parameters and be open to shorter term bookings because we need people when we need them.

So when you send your work to jobs@sarofsky.com, be sure to note if you are ok with freelance as a starting point. I will say this; sometimes freelancers start, and they transition to full time after months or even years.