Motion Design students eclipse Rookie of the Year awards year after year

A still image of a motion graphic featuring a blue hued desert with a line drawn hand reaching down to arrange some of the elements.
Still of motion design work by 2020 Rookie of the Year Doug Alberts ’20, Motion Design.

Motion Design students eclipse Rookie of the Year awards year after year

A still image of a motion graphic featuring a blue hued desert with a line drawn hand reaching down to arrange some of the elements.
Still of motion design work by 2020 Rookie of the Year Doug Alberts ’20, Motion Design.

2023 marked the third out of four consecutive years that a Ringling College of Art and Design Motion Design student has won the prestigious and global title of Rookie of the Year. The Rookie of the Year badge is awarded to the very best entry for each of the contest categories. This is the highest level of achievement and recognition given by the Rookies on an annual basis—in a global competition that includes over 5500 entries from over 100 countries every year.

Josh Young, who graduated from the College in May 2023, was honored with the title in the 13th annual Rookie Awards that were announced this summer. Last year, Amanda Godreau ’22 received the honor, and in 2020 Doug Alberts ’20 was the recipient. 

Ringling College’s Motion Design Department Head Ed Cheetham shared his sentiments on the winning streak and award recipients:

“It is truly remarkable to witness such a consistent display of talent rise out of the Department of Motion Design at Ringling College. Our multiple ‘Rookie of the Year’ winners have not only impressed us with their creativity and undeniable skills, but they have also demonstrated a remarkable level of respect and professionalism. It is this combination of talent and character that fills me with great pride. 

The success of these students is not only a reflection of their personal dedication and hard work but also a testament to the rigorous environment we have cultivated within the Motion Design Department. It is due to the faculty’s collective expertise and support that these students have been able to flourish and achieve such success. I am looking forward to witnessing the impact these exceptional creatives will undoubtedly make in shaping the future of the motion design industry.”

We caught up with the Rookie winners to see what they are working on these days and hear about the impact that the awards have had on their careers.

Doug Alberts ’20 

Since he graduated in 2020, Doug Alberts founded Noodle, a motion design company based in Chicago. He shared some thoughtful reflections on his time at Ringling College and the Motion Design program, and how he’s been impacted by winning Rookie of the Year:

“Who knew you could learn so much in four years? My Ringling experience was so creatively exciting, and equally challenging in regard to projects, deadlines, and more. I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the Motion Design program, which has never stopped mirroring the real-world motion design industry. In the first year, we were in After Effects from day one and fast forward to fourth year, we would have two weeks to produce a mock-client project, which in hindsight isn’t too far from the real deadlines we have today.

The College sets artists up to succeed creatively, individually, as a presenter, and as a well-rounded professional. They have the tools, the amazing instructors, structure, and deadlines to help push students towards their goals.

Rookie of the Year was such an honor! The Rookies crew are the nicest people and really are looking out for students, not only at Ringling, but worldwide. There were a few jobs and inquiries that came out of the award but the best part was being a part of the judging panel this year for the 2023 Rookie of the Year. Believe me, I tried my best to keep bias out of the situation, and really voted for the best work I saw. After I uncovered the names, it was amazing to find so many of the selections from Ringling.” 

In addition to winning Rookie of the Year in his fourth year, Doug Alberts was also the 2019-20 Trustee Scholar for the Motion Design cohort. Trustee Scholar is a distinction offered annually to a single student from each major, plus one from the department of Student Life, given to those students who best exemplify dedication, originality, brilliance, ambition, and talent in their field of study, as well as service to the College and to the community. In a statement he wrote for the commencement program, Alberts shared his prophetic goals for the future, “My dream job is to create my own studio. I picture walking in, pouring some coffee, giggling with co-workers, and making some fun projects as a team.”

Amanda Godreau ’22

2022 Rookie of the Year Amanda Godreau was also a Trustee Scholar in her fourth year at Ringling. Since graduating last year, she has been freelance designing full-time—collaborating directly with clients, studios, and agencies. She has displayed work in galleries internationally, in Canada, Lisbon, and Berlin—and, she is currently working on her first international print campaign, which will go live later this year. 

Godreau shared reflections on her college experience at Ringling, and the people and organizations that helped her along the way:

“My college journey was an adventure of intense learning and professional growth. From the moment I stepped onto campus, I was embraced by a community of passionate and dedicated professors who made all the difference in shaping my path. The support and guidance I received from them was invaluable. Their belief in my potential and their expert knowledge and mentorship enriched my academic experience and helped me hone my artistic skills and vision. 

It’s easy to care about what you’re doing, when the people around you are enthusiastic… and there’s no one more enthusiastic than Ed Cheetham, who the College is lucky to have as the department head for the Motion Design program. Having people who push for your success and growth is what made all the difference in my ability to have a successful career right out of college.”

In addition to the obvious career benefits of winning Rookie of the Year, Godreau experienced a few unexpected ones as well. It allowed her to connect with other students across the world and build a community.   

“Winning the Rookie Award has been an incredible journey that provided a platform to connect with other fellow students who were just as passionate about art and storytelling, all across the world. I’ve had the privilege of hearing unique stories and artistic visions, making me feel genuinely connected to a larger community of like-minded individuals. It’s incredible how this recognition allowed me to form meaningful connections that I know will last well beyond this moment.

It has also given me a platform to give back to the community that shaped me and be a keynote speaker at industry-specific conferences, like Dash Bash. I’ve also channeled my creative energy towards uplifting small BIPOC and queer brands. Collaborating with them to enhance their branding and visuals has become a passion project that I hold dear. As I continue to grow professionally, I’m excited about the chance to not only make my mark in the design world but also contribute positively to the communities that matter most to me.”

Still from motion design by 2023 Rookie of the Year Josh Young ’23, Motion Design. 

Josh Young ’23

Motion Design’s most recent Rookie, Josh Young ’23 has already landed a dream job of his own in the short time since his graduation. Young is working at Sarofsky studios in Chicago, the production company responsible for the introduction and end-title sequences for all three Guardians of the Galaxy films, plus their holiday special, the introduction sequence to the Netflix series Beef, and one for the recent motion picture Platonic, among countless others. 

“Personally, I couldn’t have wished for a better time at Ringling. I was constantly surrounded by individuals who were not just passionate about what they do, but also fun to be around. To me, that was the best aspect Ringling College had to offer, amazing people that make amazing work. Whether it’s the faculty or your fellow students, everyone is reaching for the best. The passion in the atmosphere is incredibly infectious, even when you might be facing a challenging phase as a creative.”

Young says that being awarded Rookie of the Year provided him with an easy way to get to know more people within the industry. He explains that, “It can be hard leaving behind your time as a student and walking into the industry for the first time, even being as prepared as I was, coming out of Ringling College. The Rookie of the Year award is something that industry professionals can recognize right away when making a first impression of me as an artist.”

Young described what he sees as the key facets of his time at Ringling that led to his success:

“The first thing that comes to mind, for me, is the faculty. I have never seen a group of people more committed to stimulating growth and inspiration than my professors. Not only are they extremely knowledgeable in their fields, but they are always willing to help and ask questions far beyond the covered course material.

I also think it’s important to mention the connections I gained while at Ringling College. It’s nice to be so involved in the industry, and get to make so many connections, from industry professionals that came and visited, to fellow alumni who have since spread out across the industry.”

Learn more about Ringling College’s Motion Design program and The Rookies

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