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Masae Seki

Masae Seki

Meet character designer and illustrator from Toronto, Masae Seki

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello, I’m Masae Seki! I’m Japanese, born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I am a character designer and illustrator for movies, tv shows and book publishing.  When I’m not doing art I love spending my extra time bouldering, playing ultimate frisbee and petting my cats!

 

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

I live in a suburban area just north of downtown Toronto called Thornhill. Since it’s not too far from downtown Toronto, it’s pretty multicultural and diverse here. I’ve had the privilege of growing up learning and being exposed to many cultures from around the world which has given me more of an open mind and heart.

 

The best part is the food and people!

 

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

The best part is the food and people! We get the best of all worlds because people literally from around the world live in Toronto! The only downside I could think of is the transit system. It’s difficult to get around without a car since our transit system has a lot of room for improvement. If in doubt, bike or use Uber!

 

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

Diverse, Humbling, Lively

 

How did you start your career in art?

Growing up I’ve always loved drawing but didn’t think art was a viable career. The only exposure I had was fine art in art class. Constantly hearing artists stigmatized as “starving artists” did not help wanting to pursue art. After high school, I was originally going to reserve art as a hobby and study Interior Design at Ryerson University. After the first semester, I lost all interest in the program but luckily I discovered the Sheridan College Animation Program. Until then I didn’t know animation was a career but I immediately know that’s my calling, so I dropped everything and applied. I missed the deadline for that year but the following year I applied and got accepted into the program. After attending Sheridan for 2 years, I left the school for a full-time job at an art studio called Imaginism Studios; first as an assistant, now as a full-time artist.

 

Until then I didn’t know animation was a career but I immediately know that’s my calling, so I dropped everything and applied.

 

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

I was very fortunate to be surrounded by supportive friends, even though they knew nothing about the art industry. My biggest supporter was my dad who believed in following passion brings happiness and encouraged me to pursue what I love.

 

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

I hope to have a bigger voice in the animation industry and someday tell my own story. I’d also love to have my own gallery show one day!

 

I hope to have a bigger voice in the animation industry and someday tell my own story. I’d also love to have my own gallery show one day!

 

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

My late mother. She passed away when I was 3 so I have no memories of her, but I know she loved to handcraft things! That’s probably where my ‘creative blood’ came from. She was very skilled at sewing and embroidery, we still have all the things she made sitting in the house. Any creative collaboration with her would be a dream!

 

How would you describe the women around you?

They are strong and kind-hearted individuals with great personalities, principles and minds.

 

They are strong and kind-hearted individuals with great personalities, principles and minds.

 

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

Unfortunately no. Since I didn’t have anyone to share my interest in art I was never exposed to local female creatives growing up.

 

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

Personally, I haven’t faced any challenges being a female in my industry, but I believe the animation industry is shifting in a positive way where there are more female creatives who are able to take on important roles and have bigger voices.

 

Online presence plays a huge part, so make sure to have your work and name out there on many social platforms.

 

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

There is a vast amount of resources out there! You can pretty much learn anything on the internet. Youtube, Discord, Gumroad, Online Art School such as Schoolism and CGMA.

And if you feel like you can’t get into the industry just because you don’t live near or in an animation hub, just look at artists who live all around the world who’ve made a name for themselves. Online presence plays a huge part, so make sure to have your work and name out there on many social platforms.

 


What type of music do you like to listen to?

Pretty much anything, as long as it fits my mood! Usually I listen to Jpop, Kpop, Jazz and R&B.

 

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

Who are your top 3 inspirations (doesn’t need to be artists!)

 

 

Photos courtesy of Masae Seki

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