Meet illustrator from Los Angeles, Yaoyao Ma Van As.
Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.
I’m currently living in Los Angeles. I’ve moved around a lot, but this is the one I’ve resided in the longest. It’s definitely the hottest and driest city I’ve lived in.
What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?
I really love that there are so many things to do in Los Angeles, so many neighborhoods to explore, trails to go to, and the best part is that there are so many vegan options. The worst part about living here is the pollution and traffic…and periodic earthquakes.
Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.
Stressful, Competitive, Rewarding
How did you start your career in art?
Art was always part of my life, but never professionally. My husband and I moved to Los Angeles to get into the animation industry, but it was actually pretty difficult because I had no experience, no portfolio, no skills. In the end, I had to sign up for a class at the community college to be “enrolled” so that I could get an internship in a studio. My start in art was definitely stressful.
My start in art was definitely stressful.
Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?
Yes, my whole family was into art and literature, so no one minded that I wanted to work as a creative.
What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?
My goals and ambitions are constantly evolving and shifting. I’d love to have my own show one day. I think when it’s all said and done, I just want to be happy and be able to create things that make me happy. There are a lot of jobs that I’d love to have, things to tick off my list as an artist, but I mainly just want to have the time to do things leisurely for myself, spend time with people I love.
I think when it’s all said and done, I just want to be happy and be able to create things that make me happy.
If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?
I don’t really have anyone particular in mind. Mainly I’d love to surround myself with artists who are better than me, so that I can learn more and become a stronger artist myself.
How would you describe the women around you?
As I get older, I’ve realized that I have gotten more selective with who I let into my life. I really try to surround myself with strong, positive people and steer clear of toxic ones. I feel really lucky that I have a support group where both men and women are a positive influence in my life.
Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?
Other than my family, I didn’t grow up in a very creative environment, so I didn’t know of anyone to look up to, other than watching animated cartoons and admiring those. Now, there are countless people I look up to, both men and women from all over the world.
Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?
I’ve been super lucky that I haven’t had any challenges, because I’ve worked with a lot of great people. There were a couple of times where I felt like one or two people were being a little “broy” but I just called them out on it.
Definitely learn from everyone you admire, keep trying to create things that you enjoy for yourself.
Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?
For me personally, I really try to improve my work with every drawing/painting I do. Definitely learn from everyone you admire, keep trying to create things that you enjoy for yourself. If you’re lacking in some technique that you want to improve, then try to make that the focus for the next few weeks or months. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice when you can.
Photos courtesy of Yaoyao Ma Van As