I'm Megan

I write, illustrate, and animate educational animations to empower healthier choices for us and our planet.

I also share what I know about animation through online classes.

A photo of Megan Friesth
A photo of Megan Friesth

I'm Megan

I write, illustrate, and animate educational animations to empower healthier choices for us and our planet.

I also share what I know about animation through online classes.

My Story

Fascinated by physiology 

Growing up in the health-conscious, fitness-fanatic, outdoorsy culture of Boulder, Colorado, I developed an interest in how the human body works. So, when I made the big move (across town) to the University of Colorado, it made sense to major in integrative physiology. While physiology fascinates me, I realized the traditional healthcare path wasn’t the direction I wanted to go.

Followed the common thread

I’ve always been a creative person. From designing menus for make-believe restaurants, to dabbling in every craft project under the sun, to inventing and choreographing competitive jump rope routines–everything I did had an element of creativity. So when I heard about a creative minor in Technology, Arts & Media, I signed up immediately.

Within the varied curriculum of the minor, I was briefly introduced to animation in Adobe After Effects. I was enthralled by the fact that I could turn a fleeting idea in my head into a preserved illustration in motion. It hit me that rather than staring at static pages of a physiology textbook, using exhausting amounts of brainpower to mentally move the molecules and memorize a process, an animation could illuminate the things in life we can’t otherwise see. And so, my passion for creating motion graphic animations was born.

But as any creative knows, (and Ira Glass famously stated), there was a gap between my imagination and what I was capable of animating with only a couple hours of After Effects instruction. And there was another problem. My school only offered one class on animation, and it didn’t fit into my schedule.

Taught myself how to animate

I realized that if I wanted to learn how to animate (and I did), I’d have to teach myself, unless I wanted to transfer schools and move across the country (I didn’t). I took every open-ended assignment as an opportunity to animate something. A professor lent me an After Effects book and I scrounged YouTube for tutorials to piece together. The web was not what it is today, so this was more difficult than it may sound. I even went on to pursue a master’s in Creative Technology and Design (also from CU Boulder) so I could utilize the broad nature of the program to surround myself with design-thinkers while improving my animation skills.

Foraged a career in explanimation (Who knew that was I thing? I didn’t.)

Fun Fact: My first animation job was to create Italian lessons. I didn’t, and still don’t, speak Italian.

Despite all the hours in front of a computer screen learning to animate, I actually had no idea if creating educational animations was a “real” job. Turns out it is! Fast forward a bit... I now create educational animations for a healthcare company, to help patients with kidney disease better understand their diagnoses, treatment options, and how to live their best life.

Wondering where the word "explanimate" came from?
I thought I made it up, but it turns out I wasn't the first to combine "explain" and "animate". It's not a common word in the industry, so I use it to differentiate and better explain what I do.

Wove in another common thread: teaching

Motion graphics has allowed me to tie in another common thread of my life: teaching. Both of my parents are teachers and I too found I love the challenge of communicating complex information in a simple, easy to understand way. I’m invested in the entire process of creating an explanimation, from research, planning, and script writing, to illustrating and animating.

I believe that knowledge is empowering, sometimes even motivating. But often persuading someone to change their behavior takes much more than facts. I’m on a mission to learn as much as I can about psychology, social influence, and storytelling to continue to make more effective explanimations.

Took another opportunity to share ah-ha moments

When Skillshare approached me to teach animation, it was a no-brainer. I love sharing ah-ha moments, whether its about science or how to achieve a certain animation technique. I'm honored to be considered a "Top Teacher" on Skillshare. I'm also part of the Adobe Community Experts program.

I'm also teaching a motion design course at the University of Colorado, Boulder as part of the Creative Technology & Design program within the ATLAS Institute. (Funny how things come full circle!)

When I'm not stuck behind my computer illustrating, animating, or teaching animation, I’m on the move traveling with my husband, running, doing yoga, skiing, hiking, or tending to my jungle of houseplants. 

Fun Fact

From second grade to sophomore year of college I was an avid jump roper. I competed at the national and international level for 13 years, performed at CU and Nuggets basketball half-times and Jump Rope for Heart demos, and taught numerous workshops and before/after school classes at elementary schools. I founded and created Skipping Skills, an instructional jump rope iOS app which strives to promote fitness among aspiring athletes.

Check out clips of my competitive jump roping here.

How can I help?

Have a mission that needs to be explanimated?

Looking to learn animation?

© 2024 Explanimated, LLC