I’m Qian Shi, an animation director and illustrator based in London. I was born and raised in China, but have lived in Norway, Denmark and the UK for the past 16 yrs. I love travelling, curious about everything and eager to experience life to the full.
London is a place where, whenever you look up at the sky, there are always one or two airplanes passing by. Just like the planes, some dreams take off here, some land here, most of them are only passing by. I don’t know if London is the destiny of my life, but it’s definitely an inevitable stop; it has influenced every single aspect of my life.
I don’t know if London is the destiny of my life, but it’s definitely an inevitable stop; it has influenced every single aspect of my life.
I still remember the excitement of when I first visited London – it’s culturally vibrant, stylish, full of art and design in every corner of the city. At the same time, it has some sort of dark charm with its long history; spooky when it’s wet, cold and foggy, just how I imagined in Sherlock Holmes stories.
Some years later, when I finally moved to London, I was totally overwhelmed by this busy, fast-paced metropolis. 10 years have passed; here I am and have made London my home. Most importantly I have made great friends here, whom I share my happy and sad moments with, our creativity and our love for London.
London is a great place. That doesn’t mean it gives you a simple, sweet and perfect life. Indeed, this is a place where I have been through the difficult times in my life. I believe that, similarly to a river that washes rough gemstones to their finest shape, the struggles I‘ve been through here in London have helped me to grow stronger and become more open-minded, creative and appreciative of life!
Diverse, dynamic, exhilarating
I started my studies with the BA Animation course at the Communication University of China. In year 3, I moved to Norway to continue my degree at Hogskulen i Volda. During this period I worked on my short film Shoe intermittently at the wonderful The Animation Workshop Open Workshop in Viborg Denmark. Eventually, I moved to London for an MA Degree at Central St. Martins College of Arts and Design. After graduating, I worked on Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie Stop motion feature film, which kickstarted my freelancing career in London.
As a freelance animator & director, I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of studios, the honour to work with so many talented individuals and the chance to meet so many wonderful people in this industry. When there is down-time, in between jobs, I used the time to work on personal illustration projects. Around 2016, I started developing my children’s book ideas and was lucky enough to publish one picture book, The Weaver, with Andersen Press. I’m currently developing more story ideas, some of which will hopefully come out in the world soon!
As for now, I’m surrounded by creative people in my life here in London, we support and encourage each other to persevere through difficult times, cheers for each other’s achievements.
First of all, I am so lucky that my parents were fully supportive when I decided to study animation for Uni. Throughout my journey, I’ve met like-minded people. As for now, I’m surrounded by creative people in my life here in London, we support and encourage each other to persevere through difficult times, cheers for each other’s achievements.
I would ultimately like to tell more meaningful stories, stories that make people think, that make a difference and can be truly helpful. To do that, I want to keep living life to the fullest, by travelling the world, experiencing different cultures and getting to know about their customs, their legends, their local stories and tales. There is so much character and individuality in each nation’s storytelling, but there is also a beautiful universality. A lot of countries have similar stories, told in different ways.
I would ultimately like to tell more meaningful stories, stories that make people think, that make a difference and can be truly helpful.
I would love to collaborate with children who live in disadvantaged areas, where their stories need to be heard. I would like to help them find a voice or give them the tools to tell their own stories in a creative way.
The most wonderful bunch!! They’re mostly creative girls, across disciplines of animation, filmmaking, illustration. Amongst them, I have a couple of very close friends. We support each other through ups and lows in our lives, be it personal matters or creative work. They are the main reason I can finally call London home.
The most wonderful bunch!! They’re mostly creative girls, across disciplines of animation, filmmaking, illustration.
Growing up in the 80s in China, I wasn’t aware of that many local female creatives, but I did enjoy reading literature written by female writers such as Bing Xin, Yang Jiang.
There are somewhat challenging aspects of being a female in the animation industry. I personally think it’s due to subconscious gender bias because this industry has been established in a certain way. It may take a while to change, and it will take some efforts both from men and women. Luckily I have seen groups and communities being formed, I myself am part of She Drew That and Panimation group, both are awesome groups where people support each other.
Your personal work will eventually make you the creative whose art is unique, non-replaceable and sought out.
Living in one of the most demanding and expensive cities has taught me the importance of balancing making a living and the satisfaction of creativity. Keep working and developing personal work no matter what, whenever you have some spare time. It will always pay off. Your personal work will eventually make you the creative whose art is unique, non-replaceable and sought out.
Photos courtesy of Qian Shi.
April 17, 2020