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Yukai Du

Yukai Du

Meet Chinese illustrator and animator based in London, Yukai Du.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an illustrator and animation director. I was born and raised in Guangzhou, one of the biggest cities in China. Then I moved to UK for my study 7 years ago, now I live and work in London.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

London is definitely one of the best cities for creatives, you can find all kinds of exhibitions, galleries, studios, stores here. Most of the creatives are based in East London, it feels very connected with the industry. I always bumped into someone who is doing the same thing as I do. People here are from many different culture background, it brings lots of energy and diversity to the city.

 

London is definitely one of the best cities for creatives, you can find all kinds of exhibitions, galleries, studios, stores here.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The best thing is the atmosphere and environment for creatives to connect with each other, to constantly get inspired by surroundings and to do what they like as livings. The worst thing is the expensive cost of living and the devastating situation of Brexit.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Connected, open-minded, inspired.

 

How did you start your career in art?

My parents sent me to learn how to draw when I was 4 or 5 years old. I fell in love with art since then. I chose to be an art student when I was 12 and was trained to be a professional artist in my high school. However, the intensive art training made me very tired of fine arts. So, I decided to move to animation when I went to university. After I finished my 4-year animation study in Guangzhou, I found my joy in drawing again and decided to go abroad for further studies. That’s how I started my animation career in London.

 

My parents sent me to learn how to draw when I was 4 or 5 years old. I fell in love with art since then.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Yes, especially my parents. I am very lucky that they have always been extremely supportive. Although they had doubts when I was a teenager and insisted to go to art school, they still respected my decision and gave me their full support. Later

on, they really appreciated my works and supported my study in the UK. Now they said they are very proud to see what I have achieved.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

For illustration, I would like to keep developing my style and trying to refine my techniques as well as the storytelling in still images. For animation, I have been thinking about bringing up the details and quality, therefore, learning more about directing and how to work in a bigger team is essential.

 

For animation, I have been thinking about bringing up the details and quality, therefore, learning more about directing and how to work in a bigger team is essential.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Sherry Turkle (if that’s possible!). Her study in the psychology of human relationships with technology inspired my short film ‘Way Out’, and I would love to work with her and visualize her study in a deeper and further way!

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I was raised by an incredibly open-minded and independent woman, my mum was a working mum and she was an idol to me. And I met lots of amazing women in our industry, currently share my studio with four super talented women. They are independent, strong and sweet.

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

There were different stages when I was growing up and looked up to different female creatives. When I was very little, I always looked up to one of the students of my art teacher, she was very talented and always drew some very big scale Chinese paintings which didn’t look like something from her age at all. Then I really admired one of my art teachers in Guangzhou, she studied in animation in the USA for a few years and taught me so many interesting things from outside of China. She encouraged me to be myself and find my voice. I wouldn’t think about studying and moving to another country if I didn’t meet her.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

Yes, I mentioned directing earlier. Being a female animation director is not very easy. Simply because of our human nature in general, women are more careful with risks, less confident and less comfortable with leadership. To do that, I really need to learn how to speak up and be confident with my decisions, but also using my advantages of being a woman that we can multi-task and are comfortable with talking about problems and asking for help.

 

Believe in yourself and insist on doing what you want to do.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Believe in yourself and insist on doing what you want to do. If you ever doubt your ability or talents, try to talk to other more experienced women in the field, you can always find the answers and advice you need.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Yukai Du.

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