Hi, I'm Collin Leix!
I’m a designer & animator who loves working with forward-thinking businesses, organizations, and individuals who want to use thoughtful imagery and motion design to bring their idea to life in a memorable way.
Animation is my favorite channel for personal creative work as well. It's the most calorie-dense medium of expression I've found, and brings together so many things I love: Sound, gesture, color, place, narrative... Animation holds such potential to evoke feeling for me, whether I'm watching it or making it.
HOW I GOT HERE
I’ve had an interesting road to animation. Growing up, there were clues along the way as to my future career, like the fact that most of my elementary school books had sequential drawings in the corner to make perfect flip-books. But before defining myself as an animator, my animator brain was split in two. I was a classical violinist and an oil painter.
Since the age of 5 through the present, I played violin in orchestras, quartets, and summer camps. I absolutely loved being a part of a beautiful fabric of sound and learning about history through the history of music. But if I’m being honest, it felt like a very fancy cover band. We were always repeating songs - albeit incredibly gorgeous ones - that were complete. I wanted to create something original.
Running parallel to music, painting has always been a love of mine. I especially loved portraiture. Even as a kid, I had a knack for it. If we ever end up at a party or meeting in person, you will make my day if you ask me to draw your portrait. Grabbing a napkin and a pen and cozying in to draw someone’s portrait gives me a huge buzz of joy - equally for the challenge of drawing a new face, and getting to know a new person.
Painting and violin always existed in completely separate realms for me. I got more serious about painting and thought it would always be my career.
THE BRIDGE TO ANIMATION
When I entered the Masters of Fine Arts program at the University of Michigan, I completely thought of myself as a painter. But by the time I finished, I was an animator. In this program, I had free reign to explore. I experimented with creating graphic scores, which are drawings that are meant to be read over time as music. This naturally led to trying my hand at time-based work. I had discovered a bridge between music and painting - animation!
My first animations were stop-motion pieces about landscape and maps, with little characters moving across them. It was so much work, but the first time I stepped back and hit ‘play’ to see what I had done, I gasped. It was wizardry. There’s something inherently enchanted about animation that never gets old. The root word ‘anima’ means ‘life, breath’ - and that’s what an animator does, we get to breathe life into an idea. The potential for motion and storytelling in animation makes every new project a fresh and exciting challenge.
Since starting my business in 2013, I’ve worked in 2D animation, 3D animation through Cinema4D, stop-motion animation and hand-painted frame by frame in Photoshop and Animate CC. I’m also designing and animating in virtual reality. I’ve animated branding, worked on music videos, crafted unique explainer videos, and animated things just because it made me laugh. I am always trying to make each project better than the last.
WORKING WITH YOU
I love working with clients who are open to creative animation as a way to communicate with their audience. Because animation and illustration have very few boundaries, the sky's the limit with what we can make. When people do come to me with subject matter that is more abstract or concept-based, like statistics for example, I can help them figure out creative ways of visualizing them. With animation we can ‘film’ the unfilmable.
In each new project, I always learn from my clients as well. Because I’m a lifelong learner, I’ll jump into researching and absorbing all I can about what’s relevant to our project in your industry or realm.
Making a creative project with a client is always an exciting synthesis between your purpose, visual storytelling, and where you want to go. Let's make a piece that tells your story and is shareable to thousands (dare I say millions?) of people.
Want to work together?
By the way, why 'Little Hill'?
My business is called Little Hill because of my name, Collin. Colline means 'hill' in French, as does Collina in Italian and Spanish. It's a nod to the fact that I've studied French and Italian, and to my love for travel. I studied Art History in Italy for a year in 2008, and my nickname by Italian friends was 'Collinetta,' or Little Hill. I also liked it because I don't need the whole world, I only need my own little elevated place.
The Hope Foundation
University of Michigan School of Engineering's Center for Socially Engaged Design
Alliance of the Arts in Research Universities
Detroit Red Wings - Agency: Mindfield Detroit
Steel Market Development Institute - Agency: One Brand Studios
Prison Creative Arts Program
Imagination Detroit - Ford
Paige Erlich Productions - Ally Auto
7 Cylinders Studio
Genui Forma - Michigan Municipal League
University of Michigan - Medical Center
Stamps School of Art and Design, University of Michigan