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Felicia Chen

Felicia Chen

Meet visual development artist from California, Felicia Chen

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Felicia Chen, a Chinese American visual development artist in animation. Art has always been something I loved, but it took until the middle of college for me to decide to pursue it as a career. I’m extremely blessed to be where I am today. Nature, stories, and music inspire my art, and I love cooking and hiking when I’m not drawing.

 

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

I lived in Philadelphia for the past 4 years due to school, then LA for 3 months before COVID; I’m now at home in Sacramento, California. Almost everyone I know from Sac calls it “boring,” but I love the peace it can give. A lot of inspiration once came from walks by the river near my home. It’s also pretty centrally located in California, and during high school, my family loved taking road trips along the west coast and hiking at Point Reyes National Seashore. Driving is much less of a nightmare here as well!

 

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

The best thing is the comfort and familiarity. But I’m stuck at home so much these days that I’m always watching videos of people living in bigger cities; Sacramento can get too quiet sometimes.

 

The best thing is the comfort and familiarity

 

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

Isolated, inspiring, calming

 

How did you start your career in art?

Since I was young, I’ve loved reading manga and fantasy novels. My sister and I also watched countless Disney/DreamWorks/Ghibli films growing up. I drew a lot as a result, but after high school I studied computer graphics at UPenn because I didn’t see a stable future in art. After freshman year, I also couldn’t see myself coding for the rest of my life, so I tried roundabout ways to break into the animation industry. I was lucky enough to get an internship as a CG/3D generalist at Disney after my sophomore year. While it was absolutely amazing, I realized I truly wanted to do visdev – not 3D or coding. But after that year, I still wasn’t confident enough to go for visdev, so again applied for CG internships. While nothing worked out, I realized that God gave me a passion for art for a reason, and if I really wanted to do visdev, then that’s what I should spend all my effort working towards. I decided to graduate early and spend any time I had building my portfolio. In the end, I was blessed to start my career at DreamWorks as a visdev artist in January 2020.

 

While nothing worked out, I realized that God gave me a passion for art for a reason, and if I really wanted to do visdev, then that’s what I should spend all my effort working towards. I decided to graduate early and spend any time I had building my portfolio. In the end, I was blessed to start my career at DreamWorks as a visdev artist in January 2020.

 

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

My parents had their worries and didn’t allow art school, and it wasn’t until they saw that visual development was an actual job that they were more comfortable with me becoming an artist. Throughout it all though, they have always been supportive of me and only worried about my wellbeing. My twin sister, Aliya is probably my biggest support and competition; we unfortunately love the same things, went to the same school, draw the same things…and basically pushed each other to be where we are today.

 

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

I want to explore more types of art! I’d love to try being more loose with my pieces, draw more figures/less environments, and also try animating. While I learned 3D in college, I’d love to get much better at it as well.

 

I want to explore more types of art! I’d love to try being more loose with my pieces, draw more figures/less environments, and also try animating. While I learned 3D in college, I’d love to get much better at it as well.

 

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

I’d love to collaborate not only with other visual artists, but musicians and people in other industries! If I could pick one, probably amazarashi, one of my favorite musicians.

 

What are the biggest challenges you face in working as a creative?

Ever since art has become my job, I’ve put more pressure on myself to do my very best. These days, nothing stresses me out more than if a piece isn’t going well. There’s also this constant struggle of my eye telling me “this isn’t good enough yet,” and my hand not being able to draw at my eye’s level. I think all this can be a good thing – it pushes me to be better, but of course there’s a balance so I don’t let art consume my entire life. Having other hobbies like cooking or music has been a big help.

 

Super strong-willed and inspiring.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Super strong-willed and inspiring. My mom is the best example; she’s extremely extroverted, stands up for her own ideas, and has a brain of steel. She’s not easily insulted and will do whatever it takes to reach her goals. She also rarely lets her circumstances get to her.

 

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

There weren’t many, as I grew up mostly doing art on my own and focusing on good grades/performance in school otherwise. I really admired my high school art teacher, however, as she was always very encouraging to my sister and I and I loved being in her class.

 

Don’t underestimate yourself!

 

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

Don’t underestimate yourself! I was unconfident in my skills and didn’t apply to certain positions due to fear, but you never know who might help you out or see your potential. Also, don’t be afraid to ask older artists for advice! There were many artists that graciously took the time to answer my questions about visdev back in college, and who helped me so much along the way.

 


What type of music do you like to listen to?

My music taste is all over the place haha – folk/indie, traditional Chinese music, movie soundtracks. I also have to listen to music when I draw – I love amazarashi, KOKIA, and fingerstyle guitar tracks for that.

 

What’s your favorite local food spot?

Sunflower Drive-In in Fair Oaks – I loved eating there during high school.

 

HIRUNA asks: How do you manage your work-life balance?

It’s pretty hard now at home, as work time blends in to life time, but I like to do things other than art and take walks around the neighborhood throughout the day.

 

Cornelia Li asks: What was the first 3 years of your career like?

I’ve successfully finished my first year in the industry! I can say it’s definitely been odd, but also very rewarding. The pandemic changed a lot about how the experience should normally go, but it has also allowed for a lot of opportunities. Being at home and more in charge of my time let me take on more freelance, and I’ve met and worked with some of the sweetest people. I also see massive improvement since I’ve been drawing more than I ever have, and I cringe at all art I made before 2020….

 

What question would you like us to ask the next artist?

If you could choose a different career path, what would it be?

 

 

Photos courtesy of Felicia Chen

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