Milo Shieber tosses me a Sour Monkey IPA and removes his mask long enough to give me a big, goofy smile. As we walk the quiet streets of Boston, Shieber begins to bring to life the story behind his recent success in animation. The junior at Harvard University knows better than anybody: trial and error. Rinse and repeat.

“I never really considered myself an artist before quarantine,” Shieber said, “but now it is such a big part of who I am…I can’t go back now, I would know what I was missing if I didn’t try to keep integrating my art into what I do.”

Combining his own designs and animations with live footage, Shieber has taken the popular phone app TikTok by storm, posting multimedia art and crafty videos. Pairing illustrations, color blocks, and homemade film, Shieber has created an artistic style that diverges from the standard TikTok model of copying popular trends that have already been posted.

“I really do try to be original. 99 percent [of TikTok] is repetition. But I think creativity is the foundation of art. I want to add something new to the TikTok scene…There’s really not that much animation on there”

Despite only recently accepting the title “artist” without resistance, Shieber has been creating animations and learning different design techniques since as early as the eighth grade, when he taught himself Adobe Illustrator in order to create and mass produce homemade stickers from his graphic designs. Initially a big fan of graffiti and street art, Shieber was attempting to create slaps — a subcategory of graffiti with the intention of using large quantities of stickers to deliver the message. Creating replicable designs on Illustrator, Shieber quickly learned that he could use his techniques beyond just stickers.

After mastering the Adobe Creative Cloud, Shieber continued to create illustrations and designs, slowly building up his tool kit of design platforms. Despite his growing love for animation, he was creating art on a fairly infrequent basis. Once quarantine hit, however, Shieber’s art took off.

“I did not have any classes to take, and that sort of allowed me to make a lot of illustrations and fill my days…I started to see a lot of improvements and that was very motivational,” he said.

As a Computer Science major, Shieber appreciates the process almost as much as the final product. Similar to coding, creating animations involves trial and error. Beyond trial and error, it involves using an analytical and creative mindset in order to build new patterns and processes. With his animations, Shieber has used quarantine as a time to hone his craft, and learn the most dynamic ways to implement the multimedia elements of his most recent art.

“Once I end up liking something and it sticks then I know how to do it again and I can recreate it, but it’s a lot of experimentation,” Shieber said.

“There are hundreds of ways to write a line of code. Some are better than others and you’ll get errors the first 99 times you try it. But on the 100th time when it works, it’s a very rewarding feeling” 

Beyond TikTok, Shieber has worked on projects that focus on branding and graphic design. Alongside his older brother, musician Cade7, Shieber has been creating cover art and multimedia illustrations for his brother’s music. Going forward Shieber hopes to continue dabbling in the video and multimedia side of animation, particularly short films and music videos — eventually hoping to combine his Computer Science studies with animation, multimedia, and graphic design. TikTok is just the start, and time is on his side.

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