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An Interview with Jen Epstein, Art Director at Showtime by DesignRush

Article by Jelena Relić

"It's only TV."

Have you ever wondered who the visionaries from some of your favorite shows are? Well for starters, meet Jen Epstein.

From the MTV VMAs to Twin Peaks, Jen Epstein has created the promotions of some of the hottest programs on TV. The Showtime art director sat down with DesignRush to share how she snagged a coveted role (and exactly how you can too!), what art direction at a major network means creatively, the design trends we should keep an eye on and more. 

DesignRush: How did you get into art direction?

Jen Epstein: Even though I had a bunch of interests growing up, I always knew that I wanted to be an artist, so when it came time to apply to colleges, art school was a no-brainer. At first, I thought I'd major in graphic design, then illustration, but ultimately animation seemed like the best of both worlds.

My junior year I got an internship with Fuse in the interactive department, which led to an internship at MTV in the on-air design department the following year. Before that, I didn't even know that motion graphics could be a career option - it really opened my eyes.

DR: That's awesome. So what was your first step post-graduation?

JE: I ended up getting a job offer from MTV before graduation and began there as a junior animator. After three years there, I decide to go freelance and get experience at as many studios and networks as I could, which was a great learning experience. I worked at Nickelodeon, Showtime, Buck, did projects for Ray-Ban, Starbucks, Taylor Swift and a bunch of non-profits.

Seven years later, MTV hired me again, but this time as Director of Motion where I led a team of 10 animators on several kinds of projects like the reboot of TRL and 2017 VMAs. While I was there, Showtime offered me an art director role and I took it. I wanted to have more of a say in the design process vs just motion and I knew I could get that at Showtime. I also have a great mentor there, Christina Black, who I really wanted to work with again.

DR: You have a background in animation. What drew you to that particular area of the design industry?

JE: Around age seven, I saw other kids my age setting up lemonade stands at the ends of their driveways. I saw that and decided that instead, I should set up a "Homemade Disney Drawings" stand, where I sold crayon drawings for 10 cents a piece.

The following year my parents took me to Disney World where the animation studios were still open and I asked for an application to be an animator. They happily gave a delusional 8-year-old an application and told me they looked forward to seeing my work. So I guess you could say that Disney was a big influence on me. 

DR: How does your creative background in motion graphics inform your work today? 

JE: Motion designers are a totally different breed of designers than print designers. We think about design in terms of time, not just a static image. Our designs have to convey a message, so each spot is essentially its own little story. 



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