October 18, 2022

How Gimmick Studio creates motion designs that rock.

With clients including Doordash, Porsche and Spotify, the Montréal motion design studio co-founder Benoit Fortier says imperfection and a punk rock spirit are what makes their work stand out.

Benoit Fortier, Creative Director and Co-Founder at Gimmick Studio.

DS: Hey Benoit, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do …

Benoit: I’m a motion designer and creative director at Gimmick Studio, where we focus almost entirely on motion design. We do editing, illustration, 2D and 3D animation and typography, but we really specialize in motion to make all kinds of nice images move. We started Gimmick about five years ago, and before that, I was a freelance designer working mostly in motion design and web.

DS: Where did the name Gimmick Studio come from?

Benoit: Well, what we do here is kinda like magic. And so a gimmick is like the magic trick we use each time to make each project special. It’s like a special ingredient that makes people say “WOW.”

Some of the fantastic visuals created by Gimmick Studio.

DS: Tell us about the vibe and attitude at Gimmick…

Benoit: Our vibe is punk rock and we’re all about imperfection, which is what we think makes our work unique.  We’re rough, we’re raw, we love tearing things apart and our designs are never 100% perfect. For example, we’re finishing a new campaign for Porsche, but not the classic Porsche vibe you’d expect. This campaign is a bit unexpected, the look and feel is a lot more grungy and unusual since we’re speaking to a new generation of younger Porsche owners.

Some of the office decorations that set the scene inside Gimmick Studio.

DS: Do you have a personal design philosophy that you live by?

Benoit: I’ve always been very versatile, and I try to adapt to whatever the need of the project is. I think it’s most important to find the essence or vibe of the brand we’re working with and to make that shine. Things as simple as colours or the spirit of the brand are very important. As well, always keeping the design, type and animation as strong as possible regardless of the format (because there are so many these days) or the client’s budget. It’s not the sexiest answer but it’s important cause it’s our daily reality.

DS: How do you see AI influencing the future of design and creativity?

Benoit: In the medium term, I think it’s going to be interesting to explore all benefits that AI could bring us. For now, even simple advantages like better de-noising or upscaling images will help us a lot. But it’s hard to say what AI will do for us in the long term.


DS: Do you think more advanced technology will change how designers work and create?

Benoit: I think the software will improve but humans, along with their unique styles, emotions and imperfections will never be replaced. And these are the things that are most important to great design. When things are too perfect and too calculated, it’s obvious it’s been done by a computer and it’s really impersonal.

DS: What’s your best piece of advice for creating work that stands out?

Benoit: My advice is to always push your idea as far as possible before sharing it with anyone or asking for feedback. Quite often people will start something and then share it with friends or colleagues or a client who then influences the idea and turn it into something different. If your idea is as strong as it can be before sharing it externally, the changes to it will be less significant. Of course, I say this but I’ll admit I don’t always do it ;)

Inspiration strikes at any time, so keep old books and magazines close.

"Always push your idea as far as possible before sharing it with anyone or asking for feedback."

The team at work.

DS: What would be your dream project or client?

Benoit: Of course, the first brands that come to mind are Nike and Apple. But I’ve always wanted to work for Adult Swim, it seems like a great fit, we have a similar punk / trash attitude. I imagine that they give their creatives carte blanche to do super weird and wacky stuff which I’d love to do.

DS: Was there a particular design style that inspired you to get into design?

Benoit: Collages! I used to steal print ads at the bus stop when I was a teen and make huge collages in my room. I guess that was the beginning. So, when I got into motion design I did a lot of collage-style animation, it always looked cool and technically speaking you don't have to hide the imperfections in your design.

An example of the collages that initially inspired Benoit with his creativity.

DS: Which design principles impact your work and why?

Benoit: I really love when stuff is symmetric. It may not look like that in Gimmick’s portfolio, but I try to balance every scene I make for a video. It’s really just a gut feeling.

DS: Do you have a favourite artist or designer these days?

Benoit: My favourite designer who I’ve followed forever is Adam Gault, who’s a designer a creative director at Block and Tackle in New York. He’s worked with the biggest brands and his work is super recognizable. He’s the master of imperfections. His work is always super cool and up to date.

The creative work of Adam Gault, designer and creative director at Block and Tackle.

DS: And finally, where do you go to get inspired?

Benoit: Motionographer.com has always been my go-to as well as @motiondesigners on Instagram. But design at large inspires me every day. Whether it’s architecture or furniture or even dance. Recently I found a cool contemporary dance troupe on Instagram with movements that I imagined being transposed into animation. The dance was filmed in slow motion, and it seemed as though the dancers were floating. There was a lot of energy and poetic movement that I thought would look great in a design.

An inside joke in the studio's kitchen area.

Ben’s Favorite Tools + Tech

Benoit shares his go-to apps and software for making motion magic

  1. Instagram - This is where I go to find references and save work I love.
  2. Google Slides - Awesome for building presentations, pitches and sharing stuff among ourselves and external teams.
  3. Adobe After Effects - Our main program for motion and animation. It’s always improving and the regular updates help us work faster.
  4. Cinema 4D - We use this for 3D modelling, textures, lighting and tons of other visual effects. These days we can use it to render a 3D model in real-time instead of waiting 2-5 minutes. It’s a game-changer.
  5. Unreal and Unity - These are great programs that allow us to add elements, change backgrounds and even the lighting in real-time. The speed and the power are most impressive and there’s no rendering time which helps our workflow a lot.

Pinterest is serving up some inspiration on a team member's desktop.

Creative Signals is a series of interviews with leading creatives. Stay tuned for our future interviews with people from multiple creative disciplines, who share their experiences, expertise and tools of the trade.

How Gimmick Studio creates motion designs that rock.

With clients including Doordash, Porsche and Spotify, the Montréal motion design studio co-founder Benoit Fortier says imperfection and a punk rock spirit are what makes their work stand out.

Luke Tyler
October 18, 2022

Benoit Fortier, Creative Director and Co-Founder at Gimmick Studio.

DS: Hey Benoit, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do …

Benoit: I’m a motion designer and creative director at Gimmick Studio, where we focus almost entirely on motion design. We do editing, illustration, 2D and 3D animation and typography, but we really specialize in motion to make all kinds of nice images move. We started Gimmick about five years ago, and before that, I was a freelance designer working mostly in motion design and web.

DS: Where did the name Gimmick Studio come from?

Benoit: Well, what we do here is kinda like magic. And so a gimmick is like the magic trick we use each time to make each project special. It’s like a special ingredient that makes people say “WOW.”

Some of the fantastic visuals created by Gimmick Studio.

DS: Tell us about the vibe and attitude at Gimmick…

Benoit: Our vibe is punk rock and we’re all about imperfection, which is what we think makes our work unique.  We’re rough, we’re raw, we love tearing things apart and our designs are never 100% perfect. For example, we’re finishing a new campaign for Porsche, but not the classic Porsche vibe you’d expect. This campaign is a bit unexpected, the look and feel is a lot more grungy and unusual since we’re speaking to a new generation of younger Porsche owners.

Some of the office decorations that set the scene inside Gimmick Studio.

DS: Do you have a personal design philosophy that you live by?

Benoit: I’ve always been very versatile, and I try to adapt to whatever the need of the project is. I think it’s most important to find the essence or vibe of the brand we’re working with and to make that shine. Things as simple as colours or the spirit of the brand are very important. As well, always keeping the design, type and animation as strong as possible regardless of the format (because there are so many these days) or the client’s budget. It’s not the sexiest answer but it’s important cause it’s our daily reality.

DS: How do you see AI influencing the future of design and creativity?

Benoit: In the medium term, I think it’s going to be interesting to explore all benefits that AI could bring us. For now, even simple advantages like better de-noising or upscaling images will help us a lot. But it’s hard to say what AI will do for us in the long term.


DS: Do you think more advanced technology will change how designers work and create?

Benoit: I think the software will improve but humans, along with their unique styles, emotions and imperfections will never be replaced. And these are the things that are most important to great design. When things are too perfect and too calculated, it’s obvious it’s been done by a computer and it’s really impersonal.

DS: What’s your best piece of advice for creating work that stands out?

Benoit: My advice is to always push your idea as far as possible before sharing it with anyone or asking for feedback. Quite often people will start something and then share it with friends or colleagues or a client who then influences the idea and turn it into something different. If your idea is as strong as it can be before sharing it externally, the changes to it will be less significant. Of course, I say this but I’ll admit I don’t always do it ;)

Inspiration strikes at any time, so keep old books and magazines close.

"Always push your idea as far as possible before sharing it with anyone or asking for feedback."

The team at work.

DS: What would be your dream project or client?

Benoit: Of course, the first brands that come to mind are Nike and Apple. But I’ve always wanted to work for Adult Swim, it seems like a great fit, we have a similar punk / trash attitude. I imagine that they give their creatives carte blanche to do super weird and wacky stuff which I’d love to do.

DS: Was there a particular design style that inspired you to get into design?

Benoit: Collages! I used to steal print ads at the bus stop when I was a teen and make huge collages in my room. I guess that was the beginning. So, when I got into motion design I did a lot of collage-style animation, it always looked cool and technically speaking you don't have to hide the imperfections in your design.

An example of the collages that initially inspired Benoit with his creativity.

DS: Which design principles impact your work and why?

Benoit: I really love when stuff is symmetric. It may not look like that in Gimmick’s portfolio, but I try to balance every scene I make for a video. It’s really just a gut feeling.

DS: Do you have a favourite artist or designer these days?

Benoit: My favourite designer who I’ve followed forever is Adam Gault, who’s a designer a creative director at Block and Tackle in New York. He’s worked with the biggest brands and his work is super recognizable. He’s the master of imperfections. His work is always super cool and up to date.

The creative work of Adam Gault, designer and creative director at Block and Tackle.

DS: And finally, where do you go to get inspired?

Benoit: Motionographer.com has always been my go-to as well as @motiondesigners on Instagram. But design at large inspires me every day. Whether it’s architecture or furniture or even dance. Recently I found a cool contemporary dance troupe on Instagram with movements that I imagined being transposed into animation. The dance was filmed in slow motion, and it seemed as though the dancers were floating. There was a lot of energy and poetic movement that I thought would look great in a design.

An inside joke in the studio's kitchen area.

Ben’s Favorite Tools + Tech

Benoit shares his go-to apps and software for making motion magic

  1. Instagram - This is where I go to find references and save work I love.
  2. Google Slides - Awesome for building presentations, pitches and sharing stuff among ourselves and external teams.
  3. Adobe After Effects - Our main program for motion and animation. It’s always improving and the regular updates help us work faster.
  4. Cinema 4D - We use this for 3D modelling, textures, lighting and tons of other visual effects. These days we can use it to render a 3D model in real-time instead of waiting 2-5 minutes. It’s a game-changer.
  5. Unreal and Unity - These are great programs that allow us to add elements, change backgrounds and even the lighting in real-time. The speed and the power are most impressive and there’s no rendering time which helps our workflow a lot.

Pinterest is serving up some inspiration on a team member's desktop.

Creative Signals is a series of interviews with leading creatives. Stay tuned for our future interviews with people from multiple creative disciplines, who share their experiences, expertise and tools of the trade.

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