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Michelle Ku

Michelle Ku

Meet London-based animator, Michelle Ku

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a 2D animator, painter, and character designer! I was born in Calgary, Canada and moved to London for uni. I’ve been in the UK since except for a one year break back at home. I love colours, making up stories, world building, and cooking!

 

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

Calgary – There are a lot of great parks and the mountains are really close nearby – all really ideal plein air painting spots. It’s really cold most of the time though – so this would be more for the summer/spring unless you want to paint outside in gloves and a winter coat.

 

London – So much to do and even though I’ve been here for 6 years I feel like there is still so much I haven’t seen yet! Incredible museums and architecture, and people from all around the world. Lots of opportunities and inspiration. At the same time, it is really fast-paced and can be stressful at times.

 

So much to do and even though I’ve been here for 6 years I feel like there is still so much I haven’t seen yet!

 

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

Calgary – The best thing is that it’s home to my family and friends, the worst thing is how cold it can get (-30 C at worst).

 

London – The best thing is all the excitement, events, and history of the city, the worst thing is all the pollution.

 

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

Calgary – Peaceful, reflective, nostalgic.

London – Inspiring, fast-paced, expanding.

 

How did you start your career in art?

I first got really into drawing and painting at the start of high school when I would go to after school classes with my teacher Dillon Huang. I got so excited by how through drawing or painting an ordinary object I could see the beauty in it amplify and watch everything transform before my eyes! I grew so much during that time and all of the things I learned push me to having the confidence in pursuing art as a career.

 

After high school I studied graphic design at Central Saint Martins, it seemed to me like the broadest art degree I could study since I was always interested in so many different things. In my third year, I specialized in moving image and just looking back on my own work realized that I’ve always gravitated towards animation. I was lucky enough to land an animation internship at Cartoon Network and have been diving even deeper into the world of animation since!

 

I got so excited by how through drawing or painting an ordinary object I could see the beauty in it amplify and watch everything transform before my eyes! I grew so much during that time and all of the things I learned push me to having the confidence in pursuing art as a career.

 

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

Yes, I’m extremely lucky that my family was super supportive. My parents took me to art classes as a kid and throughout high school, bought me art books, and always encouraged me to draw more and expand my learning! It was my mom’s idea to send me to London for uni, she has always been supportive of me being curious, creative, and learning how to be independent.

 

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

I am working on developing a story about a world that runs on a single energy source which comes from these creatures called Muhus. My short-term goal right now is to visually explore the world and characters and create images that I’m happy with. Long-term it would be my dream to produce this into actual episodes – either independently or with a network! My other goal is to work as a visual development artist in the animation industry.

 

My short-term goal right now is to visually explore the world and characters and create images that I’m happy with. Long-term it would be my dream to produce this into actual episodes – either independently or with a network!

 

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

It’s too hard to say just one person! My top choices would probably have to be David Choe, Victoria Vincent (vewn), Peter Chan (pixelpchan), and Justin Roiland.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

My mom is very empathetic and caring but can also be extremely independent and resilient. My friends are super awesome, reliable, supportive, and fun!

 

My mom is very empathetic and caring but can also be extremely independent and resilient. My friends are super awesome, reliable, supportive, and fun!

 

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

I remember seeing Karen Klassen’s work in Communication Arts when I was still in high school and being inspired by her paintings.

 

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

I’ve never experienced anything especially challenging personally, but I saw this article on Cartoon Brew recently that points out inequalities for women in the animation industry.

 

Be careful of burnout – rest is just as important as working hard.

 

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

Be careful of burnout – rest is just as important as working hard (which I am still learning the hard way after developing RSI and hand pain).

 

 

Photos courtesy of Michelle Ku

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