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Nice Moves was established in order to strengthen the Animation, Design, and Visual Effects community right here in Minnesota. Our first step involved creating tighter connections within the community through studio tours and networking events. Our next step? Identify and cultivate local talent through our new Nice Moves Mentorship Program. We’ve taken the time to meet each other, now we’re making time to help each other.

We are now accepting applications for both mentors and mentees! Enrollment will remain open without a deadline. We retain all mentee applications and review them for each new mentor, so you only have to apply again if you have updated information. If you have any questions, please email

If you are accepted into the program, you will be matched with a mentor/mentee. Everyone learns or teaches with a different style, so it is up to the individual mentors to structure their mentorship with feedback from their mentees. This could mean you meet in person twice a week, do video calls every weekend, or exchange emails once a month. It all depends on what works best for the mentor/mentee pair. Nice Moves will provide training, resources, and community support to the mentors to help them run their mentorship successfully.

Meet the mentors

Aaron Dabelow

Technical Director / Team Lead

I am an artist who has been working at MAKE for over 10 years now where I am the Technical Director, and oversee projects through production. I am comfortable almost anywhere in the pipeline, but my favorite is from layout to render and through to final composite and grade. I have long loved giving back to the community that I learned so much from, and have created many video tutorials, participated in workshops / lectures, and also have written several popular tools / plugins for 3DS Max, like the Debris Maker, and After Effects Exporter to name a few. I enjoy problems of all types, and finding their solutions.

Portfolio | @aironiousmonk | Youtube

Amber Navarette

Editor / Motion Designer
Volt Studios

I went to the Art Institutes International Minnesota and graduated in the Media Arts and Animation program in 2005. During college COLLE+McVOY hired me as an intern in their broadcast department. When I graduated they offered me a full time job where I built their in-house video department which we named Cold Cuts. I stayed at C+M for 8 years and then moved on to space150 where I built their in-house video department. In 2011 I moved on to Volt Studios and have been there for over 5 years. I live in Andover with my husband and 6 year old son. I like tv shows and movies, books, photography, painting and camping.

Portfolio | LinkedIn

Amy Schmitt

Animator / Illustrator

Amy Schmitt has worked in the motion graphics industry for 15 years in various roles including: Creative Direction, Art Direction, Design, Animation, and Illustration. Her passion and drive in the field is what keeps her motivated and pushes her to keep learning. She’s recently added Character Design to her toolbox in order to create more layers of depth to her storytelling.

@aschmitt6 | Portfolio

Anna Fleissner

Motion Designer
Crash + Sues

Hello! I’m a motion designer and animator with passion for hand drawn animation and design. The Midwest advertising world has been my home for the past five years and it’s where I plan to stay. I just can’t seem to get enough of this fast-paced whirlwind of designers, directors and deadlines.

Portfolio | @annafleissner | Tumblr

Ben Lodge

Senior Animator
FUSE Animation

I am an animator born and bred in Minnesota, working at FUSE Animation in Northeast Minneapolis, where I have been for the past 4+ years. My work at FUSE focuses around product animation, lighting, and rendering, and the challenges that come along with that. Outside of work I enjoy sculpting and working on character/story driven animation and trying not to freeze to death in Minnesota winters. Working in Minneapolis, where the industry is relatively small and tight-knit as it is provides tons of opportunities for collaboration and cooperation between artists, and I take pride in helping to shape new artists to join the thriving and exciting industry we have here.

Looking for a mentee

Blain Traughber

Video Editor & Motion Designer
I started editing in 2004 when I was 12 years old. I started off taking whatever sources I could get my hands on online (video+Audio) and mashing them together using windows movie maker to try and make music videos, silly videos, and anything else I could think of. Eventually I started learning Premiere and After effects on my own and bythe time I graduated high school I knew exactly what I wanted to do; edit. I graduated from the Minneapolis Art Institutes with a VFX/Motion graphics degree in 2013 with newly discovered design and timing skills and the continuing NEED to edit video, I landed a studio job at Sparkhouse in Minneapolis where I was able to spend 3 years in a nonstop pipeline editing narrative animations, learning Avid Media Composer, and focusing on my editing abilities. Now I’ve entered the world of freelance where I’m editing anything and everything I can. I specialize in Music videos but love to rack my brain theory crafting how to best tell a story or develop a character.


Brent Larson

Senior Graphic Designer

Brent Larson is an Animator, 3D Artist, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Visual Artist. He has provided creative services in many different industries such as architecture, manufacturing, product design, print production, feature film, video games, and litigation graphics. His current role is Senior Graphic Designer for Medtronic, providing design and animation services to support CEO/Executive Leadership initiatives. Brent is also a member of the AIGA Minnesota In-House Designers Council.


Coley Lind


I graduated in 2013 from The Art Institutes International Minnesota with a Bachelors degree in Graphic Design. After graduation, I started my career as a digital designer at Campbell Mithun (McCann Minneapolis) creating content for brands like Pillsbury and Betty Crocker. After that I spent some time at WCCO-TV, the Minneapolis CBS affiliate. At WCCO I worked closely with news producers and reporters to design and animate graphics for the 5pm, 6pm, and 10pm newscasts. I’m currently a designer at Olson, where I design for loyalty and customer relationship management experiences.

Looking for a mentee

Emory Allen

Creative Director
Foreign Fauna

Minnesota transplant Emory Allen creates whimsical characters and custom lettering for clients the world over. Inspired equally by Jim Henson, Herb Lubalin, and Wolverine, his work is the product of an adult that never learned how to stop being a kid. His unique brand of storytelling has been recognized by Adobe, HOW, and The Huffington Post among others.

Portfolio | @ocularinvasion

Glen Faught

Motion Designer
Target Creative

Glen Faught is a motion designer and keyframe enthusiast for Target’s advertising and marketing team, Target Creative. Previously a stereo compositor in Los Angeles and moonlight motion designer for hire. Glen has created work for a variety of clients, stadiums, platforms, and venues. He has bachelor science degree in Visual Effects & Motion Graphics and a peoples choice webby award.

Portfolio | @digiwich

Greg Stewart

Motion Designer / Video Producer
Open Book Communications

I’m a native of Canada, resident of the good ol’ U.S. of A since 1998. I got into motion graphics in my spare time as a student at Bethel University, where I graduated in 2013 with a degree in theology. After graduation I worked part-time as a video producer at a medium-sized church in Andover, MN, while freelancing on the side for a variety of local + national clients (including contract work for 3M and FedEx). Currently, I work full-time as a motion designer at Open Book Communications, a small creative agency in South Minneapolis – but when I’m not at work, I enjoy challenging myself to grow by freelancing or taking on projects for fun.

LinkedIn | Instagram | @jdgstewart

Ian Vicknair

Creative Artist / Illustrator

Ian Vicknair is a Minneapolis based Matte Painter and self-taught illustrator and designer working on film, commercials and designs. Ian grew up in Europe, Africa and the Middle East as a young child in International Schools. With a key perspective of the world, Ian creates digital images and illustrations that have been featured in numerous publications, live art exhibits like the Lourve and in online-art collectives like Desktopography. Ian is currently focusing his time on personal projects and growth in learning. Some of his personal projects hes working on are; MoonLight Sonata, Rene’s Nightmare, Azure, and Wish-Upon Me. He also takes on freelance matte painting and design projects and is always willing to collaborate with other artists.

Behance | Flickr | Art Station

James Morris

Lead Instructor
Minneapolis Media Institute

James Morris is a freelance digital and 3D Artist and Lead Instructor for multiple programs at the Minneapolis Media Institute (MMI) in Edina, Minnesota. He has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts with a focus in 3D art. He has been in the entertainment industry for 15 years and teaching for almost 5. He has been an animator, artist modeler, character rigger for games, commercials and short films. He specializes in 3D character animation and motion capture and loves the chance to bring character and personality to whatever he’s working on.


John Barnett


I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a major in Art and a minor in Design. At the U, we basically only had one animation class, and while the teachers I had were phenomenal, a lot of my learning had to be done independently. By not having an education track, I found several ways to self-motivate and resources to improve my skills. I went on to work as a character animator and generalist for Sparkhouse Studios. At Sparkhouse I did puppet animation in After Effects, as well as hand-drawn character animation in Toon Boom. During my time at Sparkhouse I helped create a large number of five minute children’s cartoons, as well as a 40 minute animated Easter special. Aside from Sparkhouse and various freelance work, I’ve done 2D animation collaborations with Flush Studios.

Portfolio | Reel

Kyle Franke

Motion Designer / Director of Photography

Hello! My name is Kyle Franke. I grew up an electronics nerd here in Minneapolis. I studied Visual Effects and Motion Graphics at The Art Institutes International Minnesota 06-08, and started my career off at Target Corporation creating all types of moving media. After working for an advertising agency, and a post production house I decided to break out on my own. As a freelancer in Minneapolis, I create 3D/2D Motion Graphics, Stop Motion Animation, Visual Effects, and am Director of Photography for a wide array of moving media projects.

Portfolio | @isotope_theory | Vimeo

Mike Medicine Horse

Senior Artist / VR Lead
Hybrid Medical Animation

Mike Medicine Horse is a Crow Indian digital artist who has worked in the Animation and Illustration industry for over 15 years. As the senior artist for Hybrid Medical Animation, Mike has won numerous awards, including the RX Award of Excellence in 2006 and the Platinum Best of Show Aurora award in 2007. He’s also studied under Bobby Chiu at the Imaginism Workshop for illustration and concept art.

Portfolio | @MikeIsRendering

Mike Zugschwert

Mentor Director
Nice Moves

I graduated from the Art Institutes International Minnesota in 2006. I spent the next 4 years working in the sports industry doing motion graphics and animation for stadium displays for the Mets, Yankees, NJ Devils, and a half dozen other pro sports teams. In my spare time I worked as an FX Lead for the short film Azureus Rising. This led to me leaving sports to pursue a freelance career as an FX Artist in the NYC area. I worked at a handful of studios, most often at First Ave Machine. I then returned back home to Minneapolis where I worked at MAKE for 5 1/2 years. I have also published FX tutorials in 3DTotal Magazine, ran multiple workshops for students at AI Minnesota, and started my own mentorship program which eventually evolved into the Nice Moves Mentorship Program.

Portfolio | LinkedIn | Vimeo

Nate Dorn


I graduated from the Art Institutes International Minnesota in June of 2007 as best in show. After graduation, I spent the next 6 years working at Gasket Studios doing animation and design for TV advertisements and cinematics for companies such as Google, Coke, Microsoft, Best Buy, NFL, Activation and Target. After Gasket, I freelanced full-time where I did stadium advertisements for college football, billboard animations and general 3D animation for various companies. Soon after I began working at Hybrid Medical Animation, where I have been doing 3D visualizations and commercial advertisements for various medical companies for 3 years. Although I am considered a Technical Animator, my strengths lay in Rigging, Key Frame Animation and Modeling. I have a particular interest in 3D Game Design art. Some of my software strengths are in Maya, Mudbox, After Effects, and Photoshop.


Patrick Schwalbe

Technical Director

I graduated from the Art Institutes International Minnesota in 2000. I spent the next 17 years working in the medical animation industry doing technical direction for Ghost, Hybrid, and Meditech. My favorite things to focus on within Maya are: creating Mel/Python user tools, procedural modeling & FX using the SOuP plugin, and rigging. In my spare time I work on a personal project: a Maya (human character) auto-rigger.

Portfolio | Vimeo

Peter Steineck

Motion Designer / Illustrator

Peter Steineck is a Motion Designer and Illustrator from Minnesota, USA. Currently freelance full-time, previously spent 2 years in Philadelphia working for Urban Outfitters as a Designer, before, graduated MCAD in 2012 with a BFA in Graphic Design.


Shannon Gilley

Senior Designer / Animator
Litigation Insights

Shannon is an award-winning animator and professor whose career has spanned advertising and episodic television, collegiate instruction, and educational demonstratives. He served as Lead Modeler for Disney’s Emmy award-winning series Rolie Polie Olie and won a Telly award for his work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Shannon’s clients have included CBS, Mattel, Discovery Channel, and nationally recognized law firms such as Faegre Baker Daniels. Earning his MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Shannon focused on developing animation for science education – most notably illustrating research from the University of Minnesota on mitigating carbon dioxide pollution. Shannon’s most recent work is in litigation graphics, helping judges and jurors understand a wide variety of scientific and technical matters.


Simeon Kondev

Animator / Illustrator

Graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design – Film/Animation/Video department. Independent freelance animator and storyboard artist. I’m interested in traditional animation techniques that utilize digital tools, and animation as a medium for narrative filmmaking.

Portfolio | Reel

Tiffany Greiner

Director of Look Development
Gasket Studios

I began my career in VFX in 2006 after graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design, majoring in Visual Effects. I got my first job in the industry at Rhythm and Hues Studios in Los Angeles, CA, where I worked for 4 years on 8 feature films including one which won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.  I worked there as a Lighting Technical Director, Lighting Lead, and Look Development Artist, I also mentored apprentice lighters and wrote some of their wiki documents on various software tools and techniques. In 2010, I moved back to MN and was hired at Ghost Productions as a lighter/compositor where I worked for 4 months until I was hired by Gasket Studios where I have been working for the last 6 years.