The good and bad about life as an expat


Editor’s note: It’s safe to say that we are quite lucky to work in this industry. There are countless perks and when you add to that the ability to charge a premium for your services, it can be a pretty good situation. That being said, it does have its downsides.

Regardless of where you are from, we all, in some way, succumb to the fact that the major markets steer our industry. While the tide is actively changing, the fact still remains that the majority of good work comes out of the major hubs: New York, Los Angeles, and London. Many of us, either out of need or ambition, find ourselves leaving home and moving to these cities in search of better opportunities. While this does come with some major benefits it also has its downsides and can leave you searching for “home” and trying to find a sense of belonging. Whether home is a few states away or on the other end of the world, with the majority of our industry’s talent leaving home for work, this is a huge constant that we can all relate to in some degree.

Originally from Brazil and now in London, Bee Grandinetti knows this reality all too well. In this month’s Guest Post, Bee explores this topic by speaking with many of those who have found themselves away from home for better opportunities.




My life has turned completely upside down (in the best way possible) over the past 4 years, since I’ve left Brazil to study motion design in Sweden for one year and ended up moving to London for work after that. I’ve been very lucky and could not be more grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and all the amazing people I’ve met this far.

When Joe Donaldson asked me to write about those experiences living abroad, I instantly thought it would be so much richer to talk to other expat friends who also work in the industry and could enlighten me with a broader range of perspectives. We all have our own particular backgrounds and impressions about living as immigrants, and some of them are just opposites. But I’ve also found it very interesting how we seem to be connected by similar feelings, even though we come from such different parts of the world.

It’s important to say that this article does not approach a forced migration scenario, which is something I can’t even begin to imagine. As hard as it can be to live far away from home, we’ve all had the immense privilege to be able to make this choice. That’s a luxury not everyone has.

Hopefully, this article can be helpful to someone contemplating these sorts of changes, or just serve as a bit of a mental hug to other colleagues who also chose to work far away from their home countries and loved ones.


There are so many different reasons why people chose to leave. But more often than not, it comes down to something that simply can’t be found at home. All of the friends I’ve interviewed have had a common point though: their passion for this craft was big enough to push them to make the leap. They felt the itch and decided to scratch it.

“After 3 years living and working in São Paulo, my wife (Fe Ribeiro), and I, started to feel a bit burned out and not very inspired or motivated with our careers and our ‘art’. In that sense, coming to Canada was both a professional and a personal decision. We couldn’t stop for an year to travel around the world, soul searching, but we could save money and dedicate a whole year studying animation, without client jobs, making short films and focusing on ourselves and in our art. As cheesy – and boring –  as it sounds, that 1 year of study was our soul searching trip, and I do believe we found out a lot about who we were.”

Henrique Barone, Brazilian Animator based in Vancouver, Canada

“In my experience working in Thailand, the client cares more about the business side than the artistic side. There’s not much variety or freedom. Clients are more concerned about time and money and it’s hard to educate them because we don’t have a big motion design community. If we try to make better quality work (that obviously costs more and takes more time) they’ll go to someone else. There’s a stronger community here in Canada that wants to do good work, so it’s easier to educate clients.”

ARM Sattavorn, Thai Motion Designer and Animator based in Halifax, Canada

“I wanted to study animation and, at the time, there was no animation university in my country (Greece). But I would have left Greece anyway, because I wanted to go live abroad, experience something new, and study art and design in a place that was more open minded about it. Although Greece is a country with such rich artistic history, art is not really taught in school after the age of 12. Their educational system prioritises scientific subjects and art is considered a ‘waste of time’ or something for the students that don’t excel in science or humanities, which is really sad.”

Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits, Greek Animation Director and Co-founder at Moth Studio based in London, UK

“I moved for two reasons. The first one was to seek for a new challenge after being in Paris for 3 years. I wanted some change, new opportunities and to leave my comfort zone.

The second reason was to learn english. The UK was a good mix of these conditions without being too far away from the family and friends.”

Romain Loubersanes, French Freelance Animator and Designer based in London, UK

I was very happy to get an internship at Animade, in London. They wanted me to stay after that and, since I was having a great time, I decided to move here more permanently. But I think I would have ended up staying in London either way. There are so many amazing animation studios and freelancers here, so it’s very inspiring to be around, especially for someone who’s just starting out.

Alexandra Lund, Swedish Animator at Animade based in London, UK

“For me it was a combination of things. Mainly I was trying to give a push in my career. At the time, Brazil didn’t have a motion graphics industry, and all the references and study materials came from abroad. Another great reason is that, although I love my country very much, I unfortunately had enough negative experiences that showed me that I was living in a hostile environment. Brazilian agencies don’t understand animation, and it’s hard to create quality if you don’t know how the process works. So I decided to search for knowledge and quality of life. I found in Los Angeles everything that I was looking for, and got the chance to work with my heroes (who taught me a lot).”

Ariel Costa (BlinkMyBrain), Brazilian Freelance Designer and Animator based in Los Angeles, USA


Mind opener

Being able to live in places that are so different from where I come from has brought me some of the best lessons of my life. Not only about new cultures, but mostly about myself – and I do believe I am a better person today thanks to that. It stretched my comfort zone, made me question my values and beliefs, become more flexible and acceptant of people’s differences, independent and capable of owning my life.

I was interested in learning how living in another country also shaped these guys differently.

“When I see how much I went trough to be where I am, I’ve definitely developed into a way more confident person than I used to be. I’ve got a different mindset to what I would have had if I stayed close to home. It made me work harder to achieve what I want.”

Lana Simanenkova, Estonian Animator and Designer at Animade based in London, UK

“The best part of living abroad is that I really got to know myself. It allowed me to separate myself from culture and traditions, to discover how I like to live. Our environment can easily shape our beliefs. We can get so attached sometimes that we forget to ask ourselves if those beliefs really serve us. Moving to another place can help give insight into other beliefs and ways of thinking. And that can help you find what works best for you.”

Sander van Dijk, Dutch Freelance Motion Graphic Artist based in New York, USA

“I had a fear of people and being social (still do, but not nearly as much). Moving to a different country and starting from zero made me go into a type of survival mode where I had to make new friends. I had to take big leaps and make big decisions and that only helps you grow.”

Jorge R. Canedo E., Bolivian Freelance Animator & Creative Director based in Vancouver, Canada

“I’ve realized that people over here (Canada) and in Thailand might think differently just because of where they grew up and their culture. There’s no RIGHT or WRONG. Something might be considered wrong only because the majority in that place agrees that it’s wrong.”

ARM Sattavorn

“I think you grow so much as a person when you move to a different country. You have to figure everything out by yourself, no one is there for you in the beginning. Then, when you’re settled, you start to hang out with new people with different backgrounds… I don’t think you notice in the beginning, but you start to change, whether you like it or not.”

Linn Fritz, Swedish Freelance Designer and Animator based in London, UK

“I think moving around and experiencing different people and cultures is always important. It has made me understand different people and personalities much more. And I believe it makes me a better coworker. I think it’s easier for me to open up and communicate with different kinds of people because of it.”

Claudio Salas, Swedish Freelance Animator based in London, UK

“Moving away from home and living in such a multi-cultural city has enriched me and my personality in so many ways. Of course I am still the same person in my core, but I feel I have changed both in a personal and in a social way. Leaving home at 18 made me grow up fast, become more responsible, confident and strong. But it also pushed me in becoming much more sociable, tolerant, flexible, and open-hearted.

It opens your mind by throwing you into a completely new reality. With London, specifically, I love the variety of people, personalities, ways of life, experiences, events, food. Everything. I have become so addicted to it that, when I go back home, I really miss it.”

Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits

“Of course, initially the best part is to experience a different culture, eat different food, meet new people and visit new places but as time passes and things start to settle, the thing that stays more with me is the good feeling that the journey you started is working fine and you are writing your own story.

This is absolutely not a feeling people would have only if they live on a different country, but that “look how far we’ve come” feeling is very tangible and present when that’s the case, in my opinion. And I think this feeling is somehow empowering on every aspect of your life later”.

Henrique Barone

The not-so-easy bits

Leaving family and friends behind are the most obvious downsides of moving away. It’s hard to find the balance between keeping in touch and trying to take care of the ones you love back home while also learning how to detach in a way, so you can dedicate to your new life.

Nothing really prepares you for what being a world away can really mean. I’ve recently experienced losing a very dear grandma and just wasn’t able to go back to Brazil for the funeral or to be there in support of my parents. I had to grieve, but from a distance.

Overall, you end up getting used to missing important events and to the bitter taste of not being able to be there when your loved ones need you. And that works both ways. People back in your home country also can’t share the joys and the hard times you are going through yourself. Often times, the new people around you haven’t experienced the same scenario you grew up in, so their ability to connect is different and limited.

Living in a different country sounds just plain exciting, at first, but it’s definitely not all roses. There are countless challenges along the way that constantly test your resolve.

“When I moved over to London I didn’t know anyone or anything and was so scared. It can make you feel terrified and lonely when you have to deal with important paperwork by yourself, when you get sick (or when someone at home gets sick) and, of course, when you miss home (although I can go to IKEA sometimes and that makes me feel a bit better)“.

Linn Fritz

“Pretty much my entire family lives in the same town in Norway. We’re very close, so being the only person in the family living abroad from the rest becomes difficult at times.”

Thea Glad, Norwegian Freelance Illustrator and Animator based in London, UK

“I had to do a rushed surgery in february this year. Let’s say it was kinda scary doing my first surgery, outside of my country, alone and with some doubts about the health insurance procedures and how much I’d have to pay for it in the end… But everything was fine and I had a fast recovery”.

Rafael Araújo, Brazilian Designer and Animator at Buck based in Los Angeles, USA

“The hardest bit is probably having to go to the hospital or going through a tough period without your family being around to help you and support you. Apart from that, the housing situation in London is very draining with rents being excruciating and people having to move often. I miss the security of a home and having my own space. At the age of 30, I feel that it should be in everyone’s right to live by themselves, like my friends do in Athens.”

Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits


Bureaucracy and being “different”

Belonging to the “immigrant group” doesn’t mean we all get treated the same. The path is definitely smoother for some nationalities and skin colours, no news in that.

I’ve experienced that to a smaller degree, as I have two nationalities: I also hold an Italian passport and the treatment I get in the airport during passport control now is completely different to when I used to show my Brazilian passport.

That privilege is what allows me to freelance in London in the first place. I’ve managed to cut through a lot of painful visa struggles because of it. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t even be here and my story could have been very, very different.

“When you are an immigrant your life is a bureaucracy. It took me seven months to set up my paperwork to get my work permit and almost three years to set up the paperwork for my Greencard. That’s just the visa bureaucracy. Then you’ll have to build your credit, figuring out the taxes, bank account, health insurance. It’s not easy.”

Ariel Costa

“My visa is tied to my job, which means I have to leave the country if I don’t have one. I’ve struggled to find a full-time position with my situation. Many studios and companies told me they liked my work, however, they would prefer to work with me as freelancer and couldn’t offer visas. I started to doubt myself  ‘Should I keep doing my own style? Am I as good at this as other people tell me?’ Luckily, I’ve got a lot of support from my current company and I do appreciate that very much.”

Yukai Du, Chinese Illustrator and Animator based in London and Brighton, UK

“I struggled to find a job for a few years after I finished school because getting a work permit is pretty hard. I’m also from a country that has no deals with Canada, we don’t have NAFTA, and we can’t get a holiday work visa. So I had limited options and had to find a company that was willing to sponsor me and help me with my work permit. But that requires a lot of time and money from the company and there’s no guarantee that the application will be accepted. So it’s like gambling, and I understand why some companies are not willing to do that. But those struggles made me more appreciative of the opportunity I have today.”

ARM Sattavorn

“When my family and I were about to move from Bolivia, we were able to get Mexican passports, since my mom is Mexican. Looking back, that helped me a lot to be able to be eligible for certain US and Canadian visas. That said, I still had to get a student visa for Canada, another visitor visa for Canada, a J-1 Exchange visa for the US, visa extensions, multiple Canada work permits, apply for residence, get rejected or sent back multiple times until finally, after 4 years, I was able to become a resident in Canada. I was blessed to have studios like Buck and Giant Ant who were incredibly helpful, but there was still a lot of money and hundreds of papers filled.”

Jorge R. Canedo E.

“Once I finished my studies I accepted a job that lasted for 3 months, time enough for them to realize they couldn’t have hired me. Then, another company hired me the proper way (changing my Post Graduate Visa to a Work Visa) only to shut doors 3 months later, leaving me with a Work Visa attached to a company that didn’t exist anymore. I was in some weird limbo grey area that even lawyers weren’t sure if we had to leave to country or not. Some time later, Jay Grandin was brave enough to fill out a bunch of paperwork, and I was brave enough to walk (yes, walk) to the Canada-US border and get a Work Visa attached to Giant Ant, an existing company.”

Henrique Barone



Moving to another country will undoubtedly impact your finances in various ways. First, there’s the investment to make the move. That might mean expensive flight tickets, agency fees, deposit, rent, visa paperwork, education fees, etc. On top of that, bigger cities just tend to be more expensive overall.

“When I decided to move to Canada, I couldn’t just decide to move for a couple months or an year because Thai currency and Canadian currency are very different. I had to save money for four or five years by working full-time and freelancing. But that only covered part of my tuition costs (which were higher because I was an international student) and none of my living costs, so my family had to help me with some parts.”

ARM Sattavorn

“I became financially independent from my parents the moment I left home. I was incredibly fortunate to have received a scholarship for my studies without which I wouldn’t have been able to get this far. That being said, I took on three jobs during my time in school and in a way, it forced me to create a plan for my incoming years to make sure I had a way of sustaining myself at least for a few months, if I wasn’t able to find work straight from school. This is not something I would have done if I was back home, living with my parents”.

Marisa Fernandez, Venezuelan Designer and Production Coordinator based in Toronto, Canada

“Once we decided to move, we basically used all of our savings for the down payment for the course and then we started saving to pay the rest of it and to have money to live for an year in Vancouver without income. In the year of study we would keep very close track of the expenses and once the year was over we needed to find a job to have a income source as soon as possible”.

Henrique Barone

“The first few months were difficult. My partner and I decided to move to a flat in East London after university without any clear plan of how it would all turn out. With little to no money other than to pay our deposit, we survived off smaller jobs and selling off our belongings to pay rent. It was a struggle, but after a few months of working and getting to know people, work became more regular and stable.”

Thea Glad


After that first impact, moving to a place where you can find a more solid motion industry might mean you will be more valued for your work. I had a pretty big shift in that sense, since it feels that creatives in general are way more valued here in London than in Brazil. I’d never have the quality of life I have today if I stayed there, and it makes me sad and angry to see how unfair those differences play, specially when I think about my friends back at home, struggling to work in this field.

“I moved away when I was still not earning money, but I am positive that I would not be making the same living as an animator in Greece. Coming to study here, setting up a company with the fellow Moths and getting into the industry in such a young age means I can make a living doing what I love, which is a blessing. I think that the UK is great with giving young people opportunities that they might not have had in other countries because of their age. I started teaching in universities when I was still 23, which is unheard of back home. What I encountered here was absolute equality, regardless of your age or experience.”

Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits

“It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening in my country and incredibly frustrating to feel like your hands are tied from not being able to do much internationally.

I’m incredibly lucky to have gotten the opportunity to do what I love in a country that enables you to make a healthy living and sustain yourself with a creative career. That’s unfortunately not the case in Venezuela right now and it’s terrible because of the amount of amazing creative artists we have back home who have to find another career path in order to make a proper living”.

Marisa Fernandez

Lost in translation

Trying to be fluent in another language and use it for work can be a fun and exhausting challenge.

I thought my English was decent when I was in Sweden, but living in a country where it is the native language brought it to another level. Different accents, speed, slangs… It’s frustrating to find yourself unable to keep up with the rhythm, convey your personality and sense of humour or simply communicate efficiently.

I moved here without knowing anyone, so I had to start from zero. I couldn’t communicate or express what I wanted because of the language, and sometimes this was making it difficult to meet new people. Also, my first two projects were quite hard for me: I couldn’t understand what the art directors were saying, so I had to work the double. First, on what I thought I had understood from what the boss said, and then I used to do another proposal myself, in order to give them more options to choose from. But working twice as much helped me to overcome the language problem.

It’s hard in the beginning because it seems that you are not learning, but at some point you suddenly realize how far you came. I will always remember the first time I dreamt in English. And when you can understand the lyrics of the songs or when you don’t need to translate things inside your brain anymore… That feeling is wonderful!

Miquel Rodriguez (Berd), Spanish 3D Animator and Motion Designer based in London, UK

“My first couple of years were really harsh. I worked long hours in shit jobs until I managed to be fluent and could get a scholarship to do my masters. The language barrier was the hardest part for me. Once I got over it everything became so much better… obviously!”

Iria López, Spanish Director and Co-Founder at Wednesday Collective based in London, UK

“When you don’t speak your native language, sometimes you cannot find the words or sentences to show what you are thinking and feeling because those words just don’t come fluently to your mind.

Because of this, you have to reference some sort of character that is not really you. But when you speak your own language you don’t need to pay attention too much on what you are saying – it comes naturally from what you’re thinking – so it’s more pure and has more detail in it. It’s like a tropical fruit. A tropical fruit here tastes different than one I would have at home, because fruit that’s taken directly from a tree tastes better than one that’s been shipped far away to another country.”

ARM Sattavorn

“I don’t feel I’m able to be a 100% myself, you know. Having all those thoughts, ideas and jokes that go through my mouth in a way I don’t particularly love is not enjoyable. But being honest and speaking your mind has no language barrier, so when I don’t know or forget a word, I use onomatopoeias or body language.”

Xoana Herrera, Argentinian Designer at Buck based in Los Angeles, USA

“Not being a native speaker makes things more difficult, for sure. Getting your points across in meetings is way more difficult when other people can speak twice as fast, clearer than you do and can even make jokes while at it. And that can make you not speak as much as you should, not give your opinion or fight for what you think is right.

Language might be a barrier that doesn’t let your personality pass through. Things like joking, arguing, saying things straight or trying to say something carefully, all that can take so much energy from you, and people sometimes don’t realize that a person might even have a different personality than the one they are showing, just because they can’t use the language in the way they would like to.”

Pablo Lozano, Spanish Animator and Designer based in London, UK


The comforts of home or lack thereof

From all the chalenges of living in a different country, belonging can be one of the toughests.

After 1 year in Sweden, I was dying to go back to my hometown and feel at home. But instead, I’d arrived to find the odd feeling that I didn’t belong there anymore. I had a meltdown and for months I felt I didn’t have a place to call home. Nowadays, London feels the closest, but I also think no place will ever be home 100% anymore. It feels like bits and pieces of me are just scattered all over. But as I might never feel whole again in a way, I do feel my heart grew bigger.

“When I came here I hated here (Canada). I missed Europe, friends, family, everything felt foreign and strange, the time difference didn’t help either. I couldn’t find one thing I liked. Now I love living in Montreal. Canada in general is really inclusive, friendly and welcoming. Everyone I know is from somewhere else and I feel like we’re one big family of people ‘not from here’. Canadians are the nicest people on earth and they make it even easier to feel at home”.

Justyna Stasik, Polish Illustrator based in Montreal, Canada

“At the beginning I wasn’t feeling at home at all and, regardless the warmth I received from the people at Buck, I just bumped into so many obstacles: the language, the lack of skills, being in a different country with a different culture, without my friends and family, without the food I was used to eat (haha). Everything was ‘not home’. I felt displaced from my natural way of being, having to adjust my inner self to a new culture. I was living in Los Angeles, but my mind was in Buenos Aires. I wasn’t really here or there, and learning how to survive to that was something that played a role through my years here. But I have the blessing to live with my husband, and he helped me a lot.”

Xoana Herrera

“Even if I lived in London for more than 4 years, I couldn’t say I feel at home, I have this feeling that the scale of this city keeps me being a stranger among so many. I guess it depends as well on where you live, but I don’t feel at home so far, this Brexit decision reinforced this feeling”.

Romain Loubersanes

“You end up probably feeling you don’t belong neither here nor there. In your new country, you are an immigrant and never know what is going to come next, so you don’t really settle, and people come and go. Back home, life goes on without you, and you are not the same person anymore either, so home will never be fully home again.”

Pablo Lozano

“Moving about a lot also left me feeling like a foreigner everywhere I go, including my home country. I identify as Venezuelan, but I’ve been living abroad for so long that I’m now a stranger there. And although I’m very much at home in the UK, I’m very obviously not British (my American-ish accent is a dead giveaway). The truth is though, that the feeling of displacement has turned into something very positive for me, it’s helped me re-define what ‘home’ means to me: it’s just wherever I happen to be happy (and that’s a sort of liberating feeling).”

Daniela Negrin Ochoa, Venezuelan Director and Co-founder at Wednesday Collective based in London, UK

“I thought that home was my country, but everytime that I go back to visit my family and friends, I find that I missed so much of their lives that I feel misplaced. I feel that I don’t belong there anymore. And when I return to the US. I feel comfortable, but not 100% home. The American culture is super different from the Brazilian, not better or worse, just different. I feel comfortable here; I made great friends here and my son is American. I don’t know if it is home but is something pretty close to it. I heard once that this is part of the transition: you get to live in the limbo before you settle down.”

Ariel Costa

“Ultimately, home to me is Moth. So as long as my studio is here, I cannot think of myself being anywhere else. I think London feels like home, but Britain in general never will. It is too different from my mentality.”

Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits

“People come and leave here so fast, so it’s difficult to feel ‘settled down’… you know what I mean?

I miss my country sometimes and always look forward to seeing my loved ones there, but I also noticed that over time the words changed from ‘returning home’ to ‘visiting’.

Yino Huan, German/Chinese 2D Generalist at Golden Wolf based in London, UK

“I like to think that I can assimilate easily whatever situation or place I’m in. And as cheesy as this sounds, wherever my wife and son is, that’s home.
Although, one big thing to note is that I actually haven’t been back to Bolivia since I moved out (I know, I know!), and I also left at a time in my life where I felt like I wasn’t leaving much behind, so it’s hard to see it as my ‘home, home’, but I would proudly and without hesitation say it’s my home country.”

Jorge R. Canedo E.


Final thoughts

To end this article, I’ve asked my interviewees if they had any tips to people who are planning to try their lives in another country. Here are some nuggets of wisdom:

“Plan your move better than me. Contact people before you’re moving (perhaps try to find an internship somewhere as it’s a good way to enter the industry) and, if your english is like mine when I moved here (which was close to zero), watch lots of english movies and study for a few months before moving.”

Simone Ghilardotti, Italian Freelance Editor, Compositor and 3D Generalist based in London, UK

“I’ve stopped making actual plans after living here for a while. I learned that everything won’t go as planned, and if you plan things and they go wrong, you’ll get frustrated. You need to have a guideline and know where you want to go, what you want to do, and who you want to be. But don’t hold it too tight. Let it loose and flow with whatever situation comes up. You need to enjoy the ride and allow yourself to make mistakes. You’ll be happier and will appreciate life more.”

ARM Sattavorn

“Try not to have too many expectations and, once you are in a new place, focus on living one day after the other and making the best you can out of it. I know this sounds vague, cliche and cheesy but it has been a practice proven true to me for 6 years now.”

Henrique Barone

“Let what you want to do and who you want to be around determine what place you go. Sometimes that means staying where you are, sometimes packing your bags, or maybe even visiting multiple places to find out where you want to be.”

Sander van Dijk

“Just take the leap, do it (but have some savings with you to make the change easier). I’m a firm believer that change is a good thing, and one of the main motors for personal growth. Moving to a new country or city makes you more independent, better at problem-solving, opens the way you look at things and makes you meet new people and ways of thinking.”

Pablo Lozano

“Get ready for an emotional rollercoaster and make sure to find a couple of friends to show you around when you move to a totally unknown country to help you feel a bit more at ease about the whole thing.”

Lana Simanenkova

“Plan yourself and go! Of course the best scenario is getting a job before. Try to do some research and send emails for possible works/projects. Creating a network will be important for the first steps. If your finances allow, you can go and stay for one week and feel if you really wanna move. It’s totally possible and looks harder than it really is.”

Rafael Araújo

“DO IT. But only if you are open to change, to opening up your mind and to let new influences in. There is no point in moving away if you are going to stay ‘closed’ – you might as well stay home. If you’re going to make a change, embrace it and make the most of it. It is the scariest and most exciting thing you will ever do”.

Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits

“I can only speak from experience, and that is to find the right opportunity and take it. And you and your loved ones are the only ones who can help you define what the “right” move is. If that opportunity is taking you outside home, that can be awesome! But maybe that opportunity is keeping you home and that can be awesome too. I think it can be easy to always see the grass greener on the other side, so I think it’s important to weigh things out, see what the best move could be, and go for it”

Jorge R. Canedo E.

“Go for it! Even if your end goal is not to live somewhere else than your home country. Living and experiencing life in a different culture will completely transform your perspective and make you a more hole and better person. Not to mention a better creative! If all you know is what you’ve grown up with, your work will only reflect that”.

Marisa Fernandez

“Be open to new stuff, take nothing for granted. Before moving, find out what you’ll need to rent an apartment (would the manager of the building need an specific document?), learn about health insurance, ask questions. ‘If we want to go far we have to get close’: if you want to go far in your career in a different country I recommend to get close and start getting acquainted with that new culture that you want to explore. Don’t close yourself into a box. It’s hard and it takes time, but in the end it’s rewarding.”

Xoana Herrera


*Big big thanks to Joe Donaldson and Justin Cone for opening this space and to all the friends who took their precious time to contribute.

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About the author

Joe Donaldson

Joe Donaldson is a director, designer, and animator who worked on Motionograpgher from 2014-2020. Previously, he was an art director at Buck. Over the past decade, he's lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles and has directed work for clients such as Apple, Google, Instagram, The New York Times, Unicef, Etsy, and The New Yorker. In addition to his creative work, in 2018 he started Holdframe. He's now working as a professor at Ringling College of Art and Design and when not teaching he can be found spending time with his family or out running.


Gabi Vallu

♥ ♥

Lameque Felix

Sooo great! Thnaks everyone!

Jardeson Rocha

I really loved this. Thanks for that!

Stephen Kelleher

Important perspective from a commercial sector which has heavily relied on global talent. Hopefully in coming years with the help of online networking advances, location will become less and less of a primary factor when finding and executing the ‘high level’ work.


I can connect with some stories ;-;

Bee,Thank you for writing this!
As well as all the expat, thank you all.

It is nice to know your stories, good or bad I guess it is life and you all have made it so far :)

Bee Grandinetti

Happy you’ve connected Aini <3
Thank you for reading it!

Ivan Flugelman

Being an expat myself I would like to give my 2 cents.

One is that you should definitely jump! No thinking, sometimes overthinking things can feed all different kinds of fears. Its good if things happen fast.

The second is that the best thing is to engage in the adventure when you are in a good moment in your life, at least emotionally. Maybe you are a bit dissatisfied with how things are at home, or are ambitious and want to see what is waiting on the other side, but you are going to need all your strength for the first months/years until things start to balance. Good luck to all those that want to explore new territories!

Bee Grandinetti

Totally agree with the second bit, even though I was an emotional wreck when I moved to London haha. Could have been smoother, definitely!
Thanks for your inputs, Ivan!

Gabriel Menezes

Beein emotional estable is something that we might forget when we’re in our moving hype… all is great, the visa was approved, lets GO! An interesting quote I heard on the Galapagos Affair documentary that its on netflix is something like, ” It’s not worth “running away” from a place and its problems, when you’re taking the biggest problem with you: Yourself.”

Nilsson Tonada

This is just what I needed to hear. I really like the motion community, its super nice to see how even your ‘heros’ were too trought the same doubts. Thanks a lot for your sincerity.

I’ve recently created a post in Mixed.Parts looking for suggestions or perspectives like the exposed in this article. Feel free to comment:

Once again, thanks Bee and Motionographer for letting us know this kind of things. We love it but not everything are just keyframes.

Bee Grandinetti

So glad to read your comment! Thank you Nilsson!

Gabriel Menezes

Really cool to read this from other perspectives. Doesnt matter where you from and where you go, some issues will always be the same.

After leaving Rio to work in NY and now in Germany, I know that planning is the most important thing. And then managing your expectations and frustrations (that will come) so you can keep focused on your initial plan. One extra thing that came natural to me was to don’t be attached to so many material belongings. Live simple, you might need to move using the subway – will be cheaper.

At the end all the professional and in my opinion the greatest of all.. the LIFE experience makes worth all the effort :)


This is really interesting, It seems a lot of people head to US, Canada and UK.
I’m wondering in the UK how things will shift with the current climate. I read an article just today saying 43% of skilled migrant workers are planning on leaving the UK within the next 5 years. Concerning what will happen to our creative industry here.

I would be interested to hear of any British, Canadian or American designers who have moved to other countries? Hearing perspectives on moving away from one of those hubs to perhaps somewhere there is less of an animation scene, to escape the rat race, or where there’s more of a niche market perhaps?

Nikolas Garcia

I would like to read this article before to move. It is important to take the decision, it is good to feel afraid and anxious, it is crucial to be bold and to have clear the reason why you are determinate to living abroad. In my case, my wife was very important and supportive when we decided to move to a muslim country, I was confident about my skills but my english is not so good, and that was scaring; but my goal is clear in my mind and that is enough to front any situation.

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