Work inspiration with Jake Williams

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Jake Williams

Illustrator and Animator living in Chicago

Hello! I’m Jake Williams, an Illustrator and Animator living in Chicago, IL. My main creative focus in on illustrating characters, icons, and scenes in explainer videos for LooseKeys.

How did you get started in illustration and animation? 

I grew up in Maine and graduated from the University of Maine’s New Media program in 2009. I fiddled around with programming, video editing, design, and other subjects, but really found myself drawn to a few time-based media courses I took during my second and third years.

In 2011, I moved to Chicago with no job and met the great group of folks in the motion graphics community. These people became my friends and peers, and this ultimately led to me meeting my good friend Brad Chmielewski who hired me on at LooseKeys in 2012.

What tools and materials do you use for your work?


  • 2012 Retina Macbook Pro (Home)
  • Late 2012 Mac Mini with Apple Cinema Display (Office)
  • Wacom Intuos 5
  • Whatever pair of headphones I haven’t broken


  • Adobe Creative Suite (Primarily After Effects, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere)
  • Cinema 4D

I like to begin a project by searching out inspiration before getting started on creating a style. Typically, I’ll create several styles from which a client can choose, then move on to storyboarding to plan out the key frames for animation. Once these are approved, it’s hours and hours of meticulous keyframing until I’m happy with the movement of the piece. We then weave in some music and sound effects and the video is ready to be released to the world.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on styleframes for some new, upcoming explainer videos. We’ve also been rebranding some of our artwork for LooseKeys and I’ve had the opportunity to create and animate avatars of the team that have been super fun to bring to life.

What is your ideal work environment?

I enjoy working around fun and engaging people that do great work. The coworking space in which I work has some tremendous talent, many of whom are much smarter than I am, and we’re all able to share our experiences and assist one another in making our work better.

Before settling down in our current space, Brad and I used to bike around Chicago just picking a coffee shop or bar to work at for the day. It was a great way to experience the city as well as get some much needed exercise during the day.

Where are your favorite places for art?

Chicago is an amazing place full of wonderful and inspiring things. Pick a street and you might find something interesting that could lead to a new project idea. Traveling home to Maine is also a favorite place for me because it lets me enjoy the quiet, slower pace of life.

Who are the creatives you admire most?

Honestly, I feel like every day I find a new creative who is making killer work. I love the illustrators and animators I’ve never met such as Markus Magnusson, Fraser Davidson, Vic Bell, Robin Davey, and Seth Eckert. The work of fellow Chicago animators such as Nick Hopkins, Erik Jensen, and Aaron Becker are also high on my list of personal inspiration.

© Jake Williams